He’s a Hollywood A-lister, recently named a man of the year and routinely included among the sexiest alive. She is an awkward art-school graduate who has his shirtless photo as the wallpaper on his phone. And they just can’t seem to stop running into each other.
The television personality Amelia Dimoldenberg and the actor Andrew Garfield have been hailed as a real-life romcom in the making for their brief but memorable – and, now, heavily hyped – encounters at awards shows.
Video of their first meeting at the GQ Man of the Year awards in London in November, at which Dimoldenberg was interviewing celebrities from the red carpet, went viral for the pair’s seemingly undeniable chemistry.
Garfield told Dimoldenberg he was a fan of his popular YouTube interview series Chicken Shop Date; she told him he looked hot without a shirt. “This is going well. I think,” said Dimoldenberg, to camera. “Are we rolling?” said Garfield.
After 90 seconds of stop-start compliments and cautious circling, the interview concluded with Dimoldenberg proposing a toast – to their “future date”. “Whenever, really: whenever,” said Garfield, accepting the tiny glass of fizz, then checked himself. “Well, not whenever. But when we can both do it.”
The clip has been watched 4m times on GQ’s official Twitter alone, sparking debate among users as to whether it was cute or excruciating. In particular it was said to be an especially English display, with both Dimoldenberg and Garfield awkward and almost aggrieved in their apparently mutual attraction.
“It’s so rare to see people have great chemistry any more,” commented a tweeter. “It’s like the golden age of Hollywood again.” Another reposted the clip for their own easy referral: “Don’t mind me, I just need to be able to find these videos again at a moment’s notice. Andrew Garfield, Amelia Dimoldenberg, Chicken Shop Date – when?”
With the world willing them to meet again, the pair’s recent meeting on the red carpet of the Golden Globes in Los Angeles carried the weight of expectation – and, judging by Garfield’s bashful approach, not just of the audience’s.
“Just stand! Be normal!” Dimoldenberg berated him – charmingly, of course. Garfield, for his part, liked his stricken expression to that of “a capybara in the wild”.
If there had been any doubt as to the authenticity of their first interaction, their second interview seemed to dispel it, with social media whipped into a frenzy by Garfield’s oh-so-subtle brush of Dimoldenberg’s hand as he reached for her microphone.
“We must stop meeting like this,” said Dimoldenberg, faux-flirtatious. “I only ever want to see you … in situations like this,” replied Garfield, reaching for her microphone – and with it, Twitter noted, her hand. “What about other situations?” answer Dimoldenberg.
She posted the clip, barely longer than the first, on Twitter with the caption “round two”; it has since been viewed 34m times.
“This is such an accurate representation of English flirting, which is hardly ever captured in film,” tweeted the writer Louis Staples. “Moments of exquisite charm punctuated by the cringiest shit you’ve ever witnessed, yep sounds right,” agreed the author Philip J Ellis.
Dimoldenberg regularly draws large audiences online with Chicken Shop Date, the interview series she started while a fashion student at Central Saint Martins in 2011. What began as a print Q&A with grime musicians in 2014, carried out at one of London’s many fried-chicken joints, moved to YouTube, where it grew a following.
now in its fifth season (or “seasoning”), Chicken Shop Date has 1.65 million subscribers, drawn by Dimoldenberg’s deadpan interviews with guests as diverse as the musicians Burna Boy, Ed Sheeran and Phoebe Bridgers and members of the England women’s football team.
Last year, Dimoldenberg’s interview with Louis Theroux, in which she persuaded him to cover his self-written rap from his 2000 series Wild Weekends, gave rise to a TikTok trend and then a hit song, on which they were both credited artists.
After her first interview with Garfield went viral, fans circulated an older Chicken Shop Date clip, showing her toying with actor Daniel Kaluuya. Her romantic “type” is actors, she tells him meaningfully – “good ones”, from Camden. “It’s not you,” she says with wonderful disdain.
But, setting aside Dimoldenberg’s undeniable comic timing and charisma on screen, what makes her encounters with Garfield so effervescent is the sense of her having met her match. As one Twitter user put it: “This is my Pride & Prejudice.”
When Garfield compares their astrological signs and suggests they might be too compatible, Dimoldenberg seems genuinely flustered – then claws back the upper hand. “I don’t think we should explore this … I’m not ready for it,” Garfield says gravely. “Oh, okay,” Dimoldenberg says. “Well I am.”
Her last-ditch attempt at an actual question, valiantly inquiring after Garfield’s apparent “affinity to playing religious characters”, only draws more attention to their chemistry.
“Authenticity” is highly sought after in today’s media environment, but impossible to approximate: a real, felt reaction is undeniable, and audiences can’t help but respond.
In the context of “reality” television, it is the difference between the by now perfunctory, glassy-eyed engagement with Love Island and its latest production line of Boohoo models – and the genuine emotion of (and excitement about) The Traitors, a recent surprise success for the BBC.
Dimoldenberg and Garfield’s “interviews” are the kind of serendipitous, compulsively watchable lightning strikes that typically only happen in live sports or news broadcasts, or the very best home-video recordings of children and pets.
The clips have the endlessly amusing quality of the all-time greatest memes like the kids crashing the BBC interview (now six years old) or the botched “Monkey Jesus” restoration (now 10) – and yet it seems that, in this case, lightning can strike twice.
At a time when celebrities love to hide behind their public image and no A-list pairing is above speculation that it’s all for publicity, Dimoldenberg and Garfield’s off-the-cuff, toe-for-toe interactions were a breath of fresh air – whether they actually fancy each other or not.