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Armie Hammer has earned award season plaudits for his star turn in Call Me by Your Name, a coming-of-age gay romancer screening this week at the Toronto Film Festival.
But he almost turned down the role. “I did want to pass. I did want to pass. It scared me,” Hammer told a Friday afternoon TIFF press conference for Luca Guadagnino’s adaptation of Andre Aciman’s acclaimed novel where he stars as a 24-year-old American student who has a summer romance with a 17-year-old boy (Timothee Chalamet) on the Italian Riviera in 1983.
“I was a little nervous about all the nudity that was originally in the script. And I had images of my daughter being at school, and she’s 13 years old, and people are teasing her and printing out pictures of my penis and, I thought, ‘Oh man!'” Hammer recalled.
But he was won over by his conversations with Guadagnino, and agreed to take the part. “Because this [role] challenged me, it’s the reason I had to take it,” Hammer added.
The film made its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, where it garnered rave reviews and topped numerous critics’ lists. Call Me by Your Name, which was written by James Ivory, had its first screening in Toronto on Thursday night, where it earned a standing ovation.
The actors said Call Me by Your Name has resonance in the U.S. today where culture wars are being fought over gay rights in the Trump era.
“In the States right now, where we are struggling with a crackdown on life, to make this kind of movie, with the explicit lack of a violent aggressor, is maybe the strongest antidote that there could be,” Chalamet said. Hammer added, “We need more than a movie, but every little bit helps,” in answer to the same question during the presser.
“It’s a crazy, bizarre, weird and scary world, and anytime you can infuse a little bit of beauty and remind people that, yes, things might be terrible somewhere else, … but you will feel like you’re having a summer vacation if you watch this movie, and just that bit of escapism can be nice too,” Hammer said.
Call Me by Your Name hits theaters Nov. 24.
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