‘Call Me by Your Name’ Writer Details His Falling Out with Luca Guadagnino, Plus Shia LaBeouf’s Audition

"I had been blown away," Oscar winner James Ivory said of LaBeouf's audition with Timothée Chalamet.
"Call Me By Your Name"
"Call Me By Your Name"
Sony Pictures Classics

Call Me By Your Name” screenwriter James Ivory has called out Luca Guadagnino in the past for removing full frontal nudity from the Oscar-winning gay romance, and now he’s going into more detail about his falling out with the Italian director. In Ivory’s new memoir, “Solid Ivory” (via GQ magazine), the writer claims he was dropped from being co-director of “Call Me By Your Name” without any notice. Ivory wrote the script and boarded the project as co-director.

“The last time I saw Luca was before [filming] 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,” Ivory writes. “I made plans to go to Crema after the Cannes Film Festival in May, where the restored ‘Howards End’ was to be shown.”

“And then I was dropped. I was never told why I had been dropped, by Luca or anybody else: it was presented in an ‘it has been decided that…’ sort of way,” Ivory continues. “Luca would be the sole director. I didn’t care all that much. I could see that it might be very awkward sometimes to have two directors on the set. How would it look to the actors and crew if we had a dispute? Who then would be the real director when one of us had to give way? How many minutes of expensive shooting time would be lost as we argued?”

While Ivory did not care too much at the time, he writes that sudden pre-production changes continued. There was Ivory’s casting of Greta Scacchi as Elio’s mother, which was overturned behind Ivory and Scacchi’s back. As Ivory writes, “Luca cast another actress for the part and never called Greta or her agent. I kept begging: Luca, call Greta! Call her agent, at least! He would not.”

Then Shia LaBeouf was recruited to play Oliver opposite Timothée Chalamet’s Elio. Ivory was doubtful about the casting as he could not see LaBeouf playing “an academic writing about the Greek philosopher Heraclitus,” but LaBeouf’s audition with Chalamet blew the creative team away.

“Shia came to read for us in New York with Timothée Chalamet, paying for his own plane ticket, and Luca and I had been blown away,” Ivory writes. “The reading by the two young actors had been sensational; they made a very convincing hot couple. But then, too, Shia was dropped. He had had some bad publicity. He’d fought with his girlfriend; he’d fended off the police somewhere when they had tried to calm him down. And Luca would not call him, or his agent. I emailed Shia to offer reassurance, but then Luca cast Armie Hammer and never spoke to, or of, Shia again.”

“Solid Ivory” is out November 2. For more from Ivory’s memoir, head over to GQ’s website.

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