‘Call Me by Your Name’ Cast, Director Talk About Shooting a Boundary-Pushing Gay Romance

TheWrap Screening Series: Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet and director Luca Guadagnino talk about their buzzy film

“Call Me by Your Name” is a critical and box office triumph — but in a movie landscape that rarely represents a spectrum of male sexuality, there’s been plenty of analysis and even backlash for the rich, homosexual romance.

During TheWrap’s Q&A with stars Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet and director Luca Guadagnino, TheWrap’s Matt Donnelly asked how they deal with seemingly constant over-analysis of the film that won the Best Feature prize at the Gotham Independent Film Awards and had this year’s highest per theater average opening: Sometimes it’s too sexual, at other times it’s not sexual enough, according to observers. Others say it sexualizes someone too young, and some even brought Elio’s parents into the mix.

“When you do a movie, you have to be strong enough, like any parent, to think that your child has to go out in the world and he is going to become the person he is going to become because of his encounters with other friends and people,” Guadagnino said. “I think there is nothing you can do. Some of those judgments that you mentioned seem to come from a place in which almost the people haven’t seen the film or they have put another screen in front of the screen and wanted to see another movie. Maybe it’s better to listen to what they have to say than what we have to say.”

“Call Me by Your Name,” based on the book of the same name by André Aciman, tells the story of a graduate student (Hammer) spending the summer at his professor’s house in the Italian countryside. There, he sparks up a relationship with the professor’s son (Chalamet), who is a lot younger (17) than Hammer’s character, who is 24.

But while some have criticized the film for its portrayal of a romance between men of different ages, the movie had a deeper meaning of love and human emotion for the cast members.

“Love is love is love is love,” Chalamet said. “I stole that from Armie. And that it can take on a boundary-less form and it doesn’t have to be described in stringent Western terms but can actually be termless.”

“It really boils down human emotion to its most elemental form,” Hammer added. “Where anyone, regardless of their identification or orientation, can watch this and remember the first time they were enthralled or completely crazy about someone, and made themselves vulnerable enough to present themselves to someone, and have that received and reciprocated in a beautiful way… I think that’s one of the great things Luca was able to do: make that feeling feel extremely relatable and human to everyone.”

In the end, “Call Me by Your Name” has permeated culture in a way that so many movies can’t — for example, a GIF of Hammer dancing in the film took the internet by storm.

And during the group’s press tour, wonderful stories are emerging from the production of the film — for example, Hammer’s private parts had to be digitally removed when they made themselves visible through his itty bitty short shorts worn in the movie. Hammer and Chalamet said on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” on Tuesday that one of their first rehearsals involved making out in the grass, with the director asking them to act more “passionately.”

The film currently holds a score of 98 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, and is garnering more Oscars steam every day. As a limited release, it also holds the highest per screen average at the box office of the year so far.

“How I think I see this movie is for the capacity of portraying the way we can become in the eyes of the other, and how we accept the other without trying to change the other,” Guadagnino added.