Photography by Therese + Joel.
It isn’t easy to switch careers, especially when you’ve made as vivid an impression in your primary field as Matthieu Charneau. It appears, though, that the 25-year-old French model is having fun making the leap. Thanks to his chiseled and distinctively scruffy looks, as seen in his on-camera collaborations with the likes of Nicola Formichetti and Pierre et Gilles, Charneau has already amassed an army of admirers (just Google “the most gorgeous gay man in the universe”).
But with acting training and a few French-language roles under his belt (he starred in budding director Justin Wu’s stylish short Coup de Grâce), Charneau now has ambitions to be a Euro James Franco, with all the tireless range and mystery — but better headshots.
And he isn’t daunted by the presumption that his queer-themed portfolio might limit his goals. “When I studied acting, people said, ‘You’ve done very sexy stuff, and people are always going to think you’re gay because you’ve only done gay photographs,’ ” Charneau says. “Well, I know myself, and I believe I won’t get stuck in the way people see me. There are a lot of roles I want to play.”
Charneau credits his modeling for giving him the courage to tackle drama, saying that “every time I did a photo shoot, I was playing a character and trying to go further.” Shockingly, one place Charneau doesn’t push himself is at the gym. He swears he “doesn’t work out a lot” or even eat much to build muscle. “I’m not a hungry person,” Charneau says. But his fans are.