Filmmaker Luca Guadagnino says the decision to not include intimate same-sex scenes in his Oscar-winning romance drama Call Me By Your Name was a creative choice.
In an interview with The Independent, the filmmaker finally addressed the criticism of veteran screenwriter James Ivory for the lack of male nudity in the movie. Defending his decision, Guadagnino said he has never shied away from presenting any kind of nudity in his films.
“Nobody who knows my work can say to me with a straight face that I’m shy about male or female or other gendered nudity. So, the critique or note that James gave was, in a way, devoid of pragmatism or a relationship with the movie itself.
“My question to him is does this movie need full frontal male nudity. I don’t think so. It doesn’t,” he said. The filmmaker also believes that Ivory was “tone deaf” to criticise the film.
“Maybe the script which he wrote – which was a draft which then I reworked with my editor – was compelled to tell this story through the perspective of a very expositionary kind of nudity. “But that would have been his idea of the movie which, unfortunately, we haven’t seen… so I don’t know. I think James was a little tone deaf about the situation,” Guadagnino added.
Ivory, who adapted the story from Andre Aciman’s novel of the same name and won an Oscar for Best Screenplay, had said avoiding nudity in films always seemed “phony” to him.
Call Me By Your Name is a coming-of-age story about 17-year-old Elio who falls in love with Oliver, an older intern who’s come to spend the summer working with Elio’s father at the family’s Italian villa. The film made an overnight star out of lead actor Timothee Chalamet, who played Elio in the movie.
During the interview, Guadagnino also talked about the criticism many directors have faced over casting straight actors for LGBTQ characters.
“I honestly don’t believe I have the right to decide whether an actor is straight or not. Who am I to know what somebody is thinking of himself or herself within themselves. Yes, Armie is a straight man with a wife and children and the same can be said of Timothee. But do I ask them to swear on their sexuality, on their identities, on their desires, before I cast them? I don’t,” the 49-year-old filmmaker said.
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Guadagnino made it clear that he would never cast an actor on the basis on his sexuality as his method is to search the character in an artiste.
“If I have to cast what people think is the real thing for a role, I wouldn’t be able to cast. I cannot cast a gay man to play Oliver. I have to cast Oliver to play Oliver because the identities of gay men are as multiple as the flowers in the realm of earth. “So, there is not a gay identity. One person who is gay is completely different to another person who is gay,” he added. Guadagnino is currently promoting his HBO miniseries We Are Who We Are, which will debut on the network on October 9.
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