Call Me By Your Name has the film everyone has been talking about since its explosive premiere at the Sundance Film Festival last month. It’s already scored a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and a rare 98 on Metacritic, and yes, we sure do love the early footage of Armie Hammer in short shorts.
But why did director Luca Guadagnino (A Bigger Splash, I Am Love) cast two straight actors, Hammer and Timothée Chlamet, to play the main characters. The answer? He fell in love with them.
“I only cast the actors and actresses I fall in love with — truly having an emotion for them, an anticipation and enthusiasm when seeing them — and I believe that my emotional confidence in them blends into chemistry,” he explained in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s always been like that, and I hope I won’t be wrong in the future.”
Chlamet plays a 17-year-old student named Elio, who begins an affair with the older Oliver (Hammer), something Guadagnino said factored into their casting.
“This film is about the blossoming of love and desire, no matter where it comes from and toward what. So I couldn’t have ever thought of casting with any sort of gender agenda,” he said.
The book is famous for its sexual explicitness, but Guadagnino said he “wasn’t interested” in playing up that aspect of the adaptation.
“The tone would’ve been very different from what I was looking for. I wanted the audience to completely rely on the emotional travel of these people and feel first love.”
The rapturous reception to such an openly-queer film is great, but it’s about time we start letting LGBTQ roles go to LGBTQ actors, especially in films that are centered around LGBTQ stories. And while we’re sure Hammer and Chlamet turn in great performances (based on the reviews alone), it certainly raises an interesting conversation.