'The King' Premiere: Timothée Chalamet, Director on Bringing "Intimidating" Shakespeare Tale to Screen

Joel Edgerton , Timothée Chalamet and Director David Michod - Getty - H 2019
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In between taking photos and signing autographs, the film's titular star explained how he decided to play Henry V, and going from scenes of being a drunk playboy to being "coronated in front of 1,000 people."

Honking cars and the NYPD were no match for the hundreds of screaming fans at Tuesday night's New York premiere of The King, where Timothée Chalamet greeted a few of his devotees with bagels and spent just as much time talking to them as he did with reporters on the red carpet. "This is Chalamania!" said Joel Edgerton, who wrote and also stars in the film.

Despite the warm welcome, Chalamet told The Hollywood Reporter that he was initially hesitant to take on the role of King Henry V of England.

"It was intimidating, but that was one of the more attractive things about it," said the actor. "It scared the shit out of me." Chalamet explained that when he first read the script, he thought thought the role would "be great for whoever does it." But after a second reading, he started to see himself taking it on. "It wasn't totally impossible, so I thought it would be fun to get into," said Chalamet.

Many actors have portrayed Henry V over the years — including Laurence Olivier and Kenneth Branagh, both of whom were nominated for an Oscar as a result — though Chalamet is notably younger than they were when they took on the role.

According to The King's director David Michôd, that aspect felt "more historically true to the character."

"This was true of the time, that young people were given great responsibility and great power. And they died young,"  he told THR. "You think of Ben Mendelsohn, too, who plays Timmy’s father, Henry IV. Technically, Mendelsohn was too young. The real Henry IV died when he was 45."

That's not to say that Michôd or Edgerton were committed to historical accuracy. The two didn't exactly stick to Shakespeare's script, either.

"We mined Shakespeare for the elements that we wanted, but we decided to separate from his text completely. If we were to use one line of Shakespeare, we would use it all. And we weren’t gonna do that," Edgerton said. "We decided that we would include our own investigation into true history and we gave ourselves artistic license to create whatever we wanted."

In doing so, Edgerton found that the film's power dynamics are reflective of those that belong to modern world leaders — people who "go in thinking, ‘Oh, I can do things better and change the system,’" only to realize "that they are changed quicker than the system is changed."

A number of fans attended the actual screening, along with the film's co-stars Lily-Rose Depp and Dean-Charles Chapman.