Call Me by Your Name, which opens in theaters in November, is a film about first love: specifically, an affair between a 17-year-old boy and a 24-year-old doctoral student working for the boy’s father, a professor of Greco-Roman culture.
Based on the novel by André Aciman, the film, which was directed by Luca Guadagnino, is set in the 1980s, in a villa in a bucolic small town in Italy, but its sense of youthful desire is timeless and universal. “You don’t really see a lot of tender love stories between men,” Armie Hammer, who plays Oliver, the older of the two, told me. “There’s always one person who says, ‘Oh, we can’t do this’ or ‘My family wouldn’t approve.’ You don’t get that in this movie. Instead, you have two men who are trying to figure out the feelings they have for each other.”
When Call Me by Your Name premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last January, Guadagnino and his cast were surprised by the overwhelming response. Sony Pictures Classics bought the film for more than $6 million, and Timothée Chalamet, who plays Elio, the young boy, was immediately hailed as the first Oscar contender of 2017. Chalamet has acted since he was a child—“But,” he said, “I’m sure no one really wants to think of themselves as a child actor.”
Hammer, who became famous after he played both Winklevoss twins in The Social Network, had no idea why Guadagnino wanted to meet with him. “We talked about life. And traveling. And food. And then we said goodbye. Years later, I got the script. I read it, and at first it kind of scared me. I was like, ‘There’s a lot of stuff here that I’ve never done on film before. But there’s no way I can’t do this, mostly because it scares me so much.’ ”
Chalamet and Hammer met for the first time in the ancient town of Crema, where Guadagnino lives in a lavish but elegantly dilapidated palazzo. (Basically, the film could have been set in his house.) Luckily, the two actors clicked immediately: Their characters’ love affair is complicated by their age difference, gender, and the times in which they live. “We both realized that the story was simultaneously important, fresh, relevant, artistic, and out there,” explained Chalamet, who has youthful exuberance but comes across as an old soul. Read more via W