alternative casting

Call Me By Your Name writer “blown away” by Shia LaBeouf’s audition for role

Shia LaBeouf in 2015
Shia LaBeouf (Photo: Shutterstock)

The Oscar-winning, gay screenwriter of the movie Call Me By Your Name, has talked about the making of the movie—and some behind-the-scenes drama—in his new memoir.

James Ivory, 93, talks at length about issues he had with Italian director Luca Guadagnino, who he claims went out of his way to avoid difficult conversations.

Ivory is a revered film industry veteran. He adapted the book version of Call Me By Your Name (by André Aciman) for the screen. In his new memoir, Solid Ivory, he talks about being extremely impressed by an audition by actor Shia LaBeouf for the part of Oliver. The role eventually went to Armie Hammer.

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A lengthy extract from the memoir appeared this week in GC.

Ivory said LaBeouf, “had been contacted for the part of Oliver. At this, I was doubtful. I didn’t know much about him, so I watched some of his films. He’s an extremely good actor. But as an academic writing about the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, he would be a stretch.”

However, his opinion changed after LaBeouf auditioned.

“Shia came to read for us in New York with Timothée Chalamet [who played the lead, Elio], paying for his own plane ticket, and Luca and I had been blown away. 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.”

Related: Sequel to André Aciman’s ‘Call Me By Your Name’ to be released in 2019

According to Ivory, he had been initially signed up to screenwrite and co-direct the movie with Guadagnino. However, he too was dropped from any directorial role.

Ivory says he looked forward to attending the shoot in the town of Crema, “The last time I saw Luca was before it 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: it was presented in an ‘it has been decided that…’ sort of way. Luca would be the sole director.”

Ivory says he wasn’t too bothered about being dropped from the co-directing role but was nonplussed that Guadagnino didn’t speak to him directly about it.

Call Me By Your Name is the only major movie Ivory has written but not co-directed. He went on to win an Oscar for Best Screenplay for his adaptation, becoming at the time the oldest person to win an Academy Award.

Before CMBYN, he was best-known for his long-standing relationship with the director Ismail Merchant, which resulted in movies such as A Room With A View and The Remains Of The Day. The two men were partners in business and life for 44 years, up until Merchant’s death in 2005.