James Ivory Interview: ‘Call Me By Your Name’ writer
“Everybody’s had first love with all of its ecstatic side and its dreadfulness,” reveals James Ivory about the screenplay he adapted from the Andre Aciman novel of “Call Me By Your Name.” In our recent interview (watch the exclusive video above), he adds that he also enjoyed that it was set in Italy, one of his favorite locales in the world and the central characters: “I liked the milieux of the kind of family it was, sort of an international family. It’s what I consider, although not a Merchant/Ivory film, it’s got a Merchant/Ivory big house in it. It’s got a family that speaks several languages and the different language of the servants… All of that was appealing.”
In this Sony Pictures Classics release now playing in theaters, Timothee Chalamet plays Elio Perlman, a 17-year-old American living with his family in Italy during 1983. An older American graduate student named Oliver (Armie Hammer) arrives to stay with the family and work alongside Elio’s father Lyle (Michael Stuhlbarg), a Greco-Roman culture professor. Elio and Oliver begin a romantic and then sexual relationship throughout the summer. The movie is directed by Luca Guadagnino (“I Am Love,” “A Bigger Splash”).
For much of his career, Ivory teamed with producer Ismail Merchant for the lavish types of productions known as Merchant/Ivory films. Along with Best Picture nominations at the Oscars, Ivory personally received directing bids for “A Room with a View” (1985), “Howards End” (1992), and “The Remains of the Day” (1993). Ivory also had Directors Guild noms for those same three films and received the DGA lifetime achievement award in 1995.
At age 89, he would be the oldest competitive winner in Academy Awards history. The current holder of that title is composer Ennio Morricone at age 87 for “The Hateful Eight” (2015). Of that possible record, Ivory says, “To me, it would be extraordinary! I don’t feel all that old. I once heard this, it was written somewhere, that people who win an Oscar tend to live longer than people who merely get nominated. Let’s say I would be happy to win in that case.”