Call Me By Your Name is being hailed as a masterpiece as it reinvents romance with compassion, art and its unique look and feel. Filmmaker Luca Guadagnino sets his story written by James Ivory based on the novel by André Aciman, in a beautiful rural Italian villa where a researcher in Greek philosophy comes to help the professor who owns the place. The professor’s 17 year old son and the 30-something researcher fall in love over the course of a few weeks; it’s exhilarating and heart breaking and exquisitely moving. Armie Hammer and rising star Timothée Chalamet (named New York Film Critics Circle Awards Best Actor) play the lovers and we spoke with them in Toronto.
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The villa on the Italian Riviera is so amazingly beautiful, did that love of the place help you play falling in love as actors and characters?
Timothée Chalamet – Absolutely. Luca has said something yesterday that really made me raise my eyebrows, which was, “You must desire the actors you work with.” And I think in Luca’s filmmaking, he desires everything; the characters, the food, the landscapes. So certainly, Italy, country of romance with so much history and we rode around in bikes there. It’s drenched in history. And as you said, I don’t know if it’s exactly what you’re saying; it almost becomes a character of the film.
Armie, your character’s physical beauty and the easy, athletic way he moves shout sensuality.
Armie Hammer – Oliver, as a character exists so much and so deeply in his body. He’s so grounded down deep in his body. And that’s where his physicality comes from. That’s where the sensuality comes from. He’s very present and aware of feelings and textures and everything that goes on in his body. And that’s very sort of indicative of him as sort of a person. It’s something that I wanted to make sure I tried to get as much as possible.
The scene where youre walking around the fountain and you make your feelings known. The scene runs slowly. You’re playing the flirtation rather than just rushing into this romance.
AH – I think a great, great element with this movie is it takes its time almost luxuriously. If it’s shot for five seconds, it will go for 15 and it will be beautiful, and you’re there. And it just feels like a wonderful language, slow-paced that perfectly reflects the pace of what’s going on, on the screen. We all know that sometimes the buildup is even better than getting what you want than anticipation, the excitement, feeling that goes with it is a great thing. That’s how Luca lives his life, just the enjoyment of that. That is a beautiful life lesson, because we live so much in a time of immediate gratification. “I want this. It’s going to take more than 30 minutes to get it? I don’t want it anymore.”
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Did your family come to Italy?
AH – They did. They came out. They weren’t there the whole time, but they came out. I went out by myself first to get settled and get situated and try to get into this and you know, do it with as little distraction as possible, which was an amazing thing for my wife to let me do. Because this is all part of the process and this is what we’ve chosen to do with the rest of our lives, knock on wood. So it’s all about figuring out balance. But at the end of the day, I’m not going to sit here and pretend like I know how to do it perfectly because I think that that’s what people still struggle with for the rest of their lives.
You’re growing up through this project. What was it like going back to this teenage mentality and this lovely romance?
TC – The primary challenge was, how do I play someone that is about 10 times smarter than I am? So what’s good about it is that we got to be out there a couple weeks in advance. So the dichotomy you’re illustrating is, is a problem that I encounter on the projects I’ve done where you shoot on a stage or you’re shooting where you live. But I was out there so far in advance that piano lessons and Italian lessons had really established a routine. I felt like I did away with the parts of me that wouldn’t appropriately bleed into the character that what I felt like was left, I felt comfortable with it ultimately.
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The book does take place over a couple decades and we see these characters change, where do you think you guys would find Elio and Oliver, go if there is a sequel?
AH – I’m going to tell you what I’d love to happen in the second one, is I would just — you know, it’s a really funny thought for there to even be a second one of this. And part of me is that we should never go back and try to do anything like that again because it was such a special experience. It was so unique and really one of the most creatively satisfying and fulfilling things I’ve ever done in my life. So I’m hesitant that he would talk about it, but at the end of the day, if they actually came, like, “Hey, we’re making –” I’ll be like, “I’m in.” “Well, don’t you want to hear what it’s about?” “No, I don’t care.”
How did the two of you go on to the next project after the intensity of this one?
TC – I learned so much. What I learned acting wise, I think I wouldn’t do justice to try and verbalize it. Anyway, watching him work, what I learned was more ingratiated anyway, but to see Armie carry himself as a man, see how he carries himself in the film, how he is with his wife, it’s an extra pressure on it. But I haven’t seen two people where there’s so much love present. So I shot a film in L.A. this past year and L.A. has never been a city that’s been very close to me. And I was welcomed with open arms. Armie introduced me to great people out there, so I really feel deeply indebted as a friend, as a dance partner. I have a deep sense of gratitude, man.
Who’s villa was it?
TC – Okay. It’s a big home in a town called Moscazzano, which is about 20 minutes from Crema, which is where Luca lives and where we stayed during the film. And I’m quite confident no one lives there right now. And then as we were shooting, Luca had an urge because he fell in love with it, to purchase it, and I think there was like a squad of 10 people, they’re like, “No, no, no, no. That’s a bad idea.” So I don’t think anybody is there right now.
AH – No, it’s for sale. You want a villa?
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