Call Me by Your Name's Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet on making one of the years most loved movies
Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet walk into their interview at the Toronto International Film Festival in a matching pair of Canadian tuxedos (jeans and jean jackets) — a bold but appropriate choice for the Toronto fest.
They’re here to talk about Call Me By Your Name, their romantic drama that had already received rave reviews at Sundance. The momentum only built in Toronto as the film was named second runner-up for the People’s Choice Award, just after I, Tonya and this year’s winner, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
Call Me By Your Name is based on André Aciman’s novel about 17-year-old Elio (Chalamet) who becomes infatuated with his father’s research assistant Oliver (Hammer) over the course of an Italian summer. It deals with Elio’s sexuality and his realization that he’s falling in love with another man as their relationship slowly develops. And there’s a very erotic scene involving a peach, which you’ll have to see for yourself.
Here Hammer and Chalamet discuss the strong friendship they developed while making this film and their affinity for director Luca Guadagnino.
What was your initial reaction when you got the script?
Hammer: Yeah, and mine was probably, Huh.
Chalamet: But the second half of that…[is] that combination of fear and desire, it’s like you finish reading it, you go, wow, and then, oh man, how can we do this? What would it look like? It’s such an amazing story. It could go wrong here, it could go wrong here. Oh my gosh, this thing’s such a challenge, I want to take this on. That was the experience, for me.
How did you prepare for your roles before you started filming?
Hammer: We were really lucky to get a good amount of time together, just the two of us, largely because we were sequestered in a tiny little Italian town where nobody else spoke English, so if we wanted to have a conversation about anything it was normally with each other. And then we would shoot all day and then go back to my place or his place and rehearse the scenes for the next day, maybe go get dinner, maybe watch a movie, maybe listen to music, whatever, and then do it all again the next day, and we really got to build a good foundation of comfort and safety between the two of us before we even ever started shooting anything.
What stayed with you the most about your character after the filming was over?
Hammer: I have an intense desire to wear extremely short shorts.
Chalamet: I have an intense desire every time I see a peach.
Yeah, the peach scene. How was filming that?
Chalamet: The prime example of Luca not treating any scene with ceremony, or not treating anything differently, was that scene because I remember getting there that day and you always kind of look to your director for the tone of the set, for the mood, how things are going, you’re always picking up on things he probably didn’t infer, he’s probably not emoting on purpose, but he was treating it like every other scene, he was calm as day. It just happened and then it was over.
Can you talk about filming with Luca? The film is so beautifully shot.
Chalamet: It’s totally a dream. I had seen I Am Love before I ever got the chance to meet with him, then had been attached to [this film] for three years, loosely, and then A Bigger Splash came out in that period so I saw that too. So the dream and the desire to work with him was exponential and he totally lived up to everything I thought the experience would be.
What do you think will surprise audiences about Call Me By Your Name?
Hammer: The fact that anyone will be able to sit through this regardless of their identification or orientation, and see two people organically and beautifully and tenderly and sweetly fall in love with each other. And regardless of whoever you are with, you will be able to watch this and remember the first time you had a crush on somebody or became infatuated with somebody or fell in love with somebody or had your heart broken by somebody, and I think that that is one of the beautiful things that makes us all humans, that we do share these emotions and feelings, and it’s what unites us and unifies us, or can, hopefully.
Adriana Floridia is a content producer for Cineplex.com.
Call Me By Your Name Hits Theatres December 15th.