×

Timothee Chalamet on Sundance Gay Love Story ‘Call Me by Your Name,’ Chemistry With Armie Hammer

Film festivals have been good launching pads for the great modern gay love stories, from “Brokeback Mountain” (Venice) to “The Kids Are All Right” (Sundance) to “Carol” (Cannes). So there’s been considerable anticipation at this year’s Sundance for Luca Guadagnino’s “Call Me By Your Name,” based on the celebrated 2007 novel. Fueling the positive buzz was news that Sony Pictures Classics beat out several other distributors to land the project early, ahead of its Sunday premiere.

The movie stars Armie Hammer as an American academic visiting Italy in the 1980s, who strikes up a romance with a 17-year-old local played by Timothee Chalamet. The book is known for its intense sex scenes, including an explicit act with a peach. Chalamet, the 21-year-old actor from “Homeland,” spoke to Variety about the project.

Would you say the movie is a faithful adaptation?
I haven’t seen it! I don’t know. I’m trying to hold out. I want to see it in the theater too for the first time.

Did you have to audition?
Luca just offered it. I met with him over two years ago.

How did you prepare? Did you read the book in addition to the script?
I read the book a couple of times. I went out to Crema, Italy, which is where Luca lives and shot the film. I went out there a month and a half early and worked diligently on my Italian, which was OK but wasn’t as good as I got it by the time we shot. And I worked on the piano and guitar playing. I spent a lot of time in a small town in France, growing up. I had an understanding of what small-town European life was like. But the Italian version of that would be different. I would literally sit in the town square to see what life was like out there. I met a group of young kids my age that didn’t know I was an actor, and I got to go out with them on weekends.

Was it a challenging role?
The hardest part was getting into the gym when I was there. I’m not someone who frequents the gym, pretty much ever.

How did you and Armie find the chemistry between your characters?
Call it by luck of the universe. Armie and I really hit it off. I haven’t had a friendship like that with someone that I’d worked with. There was something about being plucked from our respective areas and being brought to this small town in Italy where we really had to depend on each other. This wasn’t the plan, but we became such good friends that it made the chemistry onscreen palpable, because we really did like each other in real life.

The book is detailed about their affair.
That wasn’t a huge concern of mine. I felt very safe in Luca’s hands and Armie’s hands. The book is a love story, and it happens to have those detailed scenes.

On the page, there’s ambiguity about your character’s sexual orientation.
I think the book, and I hope the film, is a story about love. The sexuality of the characters isn’t the story so much.

Is the peach scene in the movie?
We certainly shot it. I think they would have told me if it was cut. I’m 99 percent sure it’s in there.

More Film

  • New Fox Appoints Wayne Borg to

    New Fox Appoints Wayne Borg to Los Angeles Studio Role

    Wayne Borg, who has headed the Fox Studios Australia operations in Sydney for the past four years, has been appointed president and general manager of studios at New Fox. He will relocate from Australia to Los Angeles. Fox Studios Australia, which is to remain part of 21st Century Fox and will become part of Disney [...]

  • Lisa Borders Time's Up

    Time's Up President Lisa Borders Resigns

    Lisa Borders has resigned as president of Time’s Up, she and the organization announced on Monday. Borders is resigning due to family issues, she said in a statement. Time’s Up COO Rebecca Goldman will now serve as interim CEO. “As Time’s Up continues to grow, I am proud of the work I have done to [...]

  • Keira Knightly as "Rachael Morgan" in

    Film Review: Keira Knightley in 'The Aftermath'

    Less widely seen (and acclaimed) than it deserved to be, James Kent’s debut feature “Testament of Youth” was one of the great recent love-in-wartime dramas, translating the intimate romance and sprawling human tragedy of Vera Brittain’s WWI memoir with a grace and heft worthy of its David Lean allusions. Four years on, it’s not hard [...]

  • Inside Amazon's New Feature Film Strategy

    Amazon's New Film Strategy: Straight-to-Service Titles and Starry Sundance Buys

    It was close to midnight when Amazon Studios chief Jennifer Salke got the text. The company had failed in its quest to acquire “Brittany Runs a Marathon,” a body image dramedy that captivated Salke when she saw it at Sundance. A sales agent on the project messaged her to say that a competitor offered a [...]

  • Alfonso Cuaron71st Annual Writers Guild Awards,

    Alfonso Cuarón on Academy's 'Inevitable' Reversal on Televised Oscar Categories

    Alfonso Cuarón isn’t exactly surprised that the Academy reversed its decision and will now air all the Oscar categories during the live show on Sunday. Feb. 24. Calling the decision “inevitable,”Cuarón tells Variety that he thinks the Academy should take things even further. “Let’s stop calling them technical categories!” he told Variety on Sunday night [...]

  • TorinoFilmLab Announces Selections for 2019 ScriptLab

    TorinoFilmLab Announces Selections for 2019 ScriptLab (EXCLUSIVE)

    The TorinoFilmLab has announced the 20 feature projects and five story editor trainees who have been selected to take part in the 2019 edition of ScriptLab, an initiative focused on the development of fiction feature film scripts in early development stage. Beginning in March, this year’s participants will team up with filmmakers from around the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content