Released in 2017, “Call Me By Your Name” was an instant critical darling, becoming a real awards contender and breakthrough film for filmmaker Luca Guadagnino, as well as the two leading men, Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer. However, as pointed out by writer James Ivory in his new memoir, “Solid Ivory” (via GQ), the acclaimed film began its life on rather contentious ground.
According to Ivory, when “Call Me By Your Name” was being developed, the film was set to be co-directed by Guadagnino and Ivory, with the latter accepting those terms so that he could also adapt the script based on the novel by André Aciman. However, when the script was finished and the film’s production was getting ready to begin, Ivory learned that he was unceremoniously dropped as co-director and never given a formal reason for this change.
“When I turned in my script to them, it was accepted without any changes or requests for rewrites, and soon money was found to make the film, and to pay me,” Ivory explained. “The last time I saw Luca was before [shooting] began, in New York, when I still believed I was co-directing with him; we joked about what might happen if we got into an argument on set, and laughed about it. And then I was dropped. I was never told why I had been dropped, by Luca or anybody else.”
Ivory also went on to explain that his original idea for the casting of “Call Me By Your Name” would have been very different than what fans saw on screen. Two of the biggest changes would have been with Ivory’s choices for Chalamet’s character’s mother and his older lover. In the film, the mother is portrayed by Amira Casar. However, Ivory originally wanted veteran Italian actress Greta Scacchi for that role. And for the much bigger, much more important role of Oliver, Ivory was hoping to land Shia LaBeouf, instead of Armie Hammer. Of course, neither of these ideas were followed through with.
“I kept begging: Luca, call Greta! Call her agent, at least! He would not,” the writer said.
And in regards to the LaBeouf situation, Ivory added, “I emailed Shia to offer reassurance, but then Luca cast Armie Hammer and never spoke to, or of, Shia again.”
Of course, it’s important to add that “Call Me By Your Name,” even with this disagreement between Ivory and Guadagnino, went on to become one of the most critically-lauded films of 2017 and even won an Oscar for the writer in the Best Adapted Screenplay category. So, while it might not have been exactly how Ivory wanted, there’s no denying the end result is beloved by many.