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Timothée Chalamet, ex-Xbox 360 controller modder, bravely steps out at The Game Awards

An inspiration

Timothée Chalamet at the Wonka World Premiere laughing in his burgundy suit Photo: Karwai Tang/WireImage
Matt Patches is an executive editor at Polygon. He has over 15 years of experience reporting on movies and TV, and reviewing pop culture.

There is no shame in spending your early teen years painting gaming peripherals to make them More Badass. Yet when actor Timothée Chalamet started hitting it big in Hollywood, either he or someone in his inner circle scrubbed away his gamer past.

As Vice investigated to an absurd degree in 2021, accusations to which Chalamet later admitted to in a fit of embarrassment during his Dune press cycle, the lanky heartthrob once celebrated the art of Xbox 360 controller modification on a YouTube channel called ModdedController360. “What’s good YouTube, this is ModdedController360 with the controller of the week,” he was once accustomed to saying in YouTuber voice. But when Chalamet hit it big, the videos were swept under the rug. (As a commenter points out, the account went dormant enough that hackers eventually took it over and wreaked havoc.) Why did Chalamet not continue on as ModdedController360? Did he believe painting tiger stripes on an Xbox controller was not cool?

On Thursday night, Chalamet atoned for his sins within the gamer community — at least a little bit. The actor, after bouncing back from the SAG-AFTRA strike to promote the hell out of the upcoming musical Wonka and 2024’s event sequel Dune: Part Two, showed up at The Game Awards to name the Game of the Year. And his honor was not lost; host Geoff Keighley introduced him by his moniker, ModdedController360.

Chalamet... did, uh, basically nothing at the actual awards show. He walked on stage, introduced an orchestral medley of Game of the Year contenders, then named Baldur’s Gate 3 as the year’s big winner. That was it. But for those in the know, it was momentous.

Chalamet’s appearance at The Game Awards was an act of courage for a reformed gamer who, at least two years ago, believed his days spent sanding down Xbox controllers to apply the perfect coat of Mountain Dew Code Red-hued paint were a blemish on his award-bound acting career. Not since Al Pacino stepped out at the 2022 Game Awards to admit “I don’t play a whole lot of video games” has a Hollywood star allowed themselves to be so vulnerable on gaming’s biggest stage.

While Chalamet did not use his presenting time at TGAs to fully unpack his history with the Xbox 360 — was he more of a theater kid role-playing his way through Red Dead Redemption, or was he a digital jock clocking time in Madden NFL 11? — the appearance should give his fans hope that he has now embraced, once again, the gamer lifestyle.

Update: We’ve added additional info on the fate of ModdedController360, which involved a hacker take over and eventual shuttering of the channel.

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