Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me by Your Name was perhaps a feast for romantics all over the world. Adapted from André Aciman’s novel of the same name, the 2017 coming-of-age drama won a lot of hearts and accolades, including an Academy Award for Best Writing. But for all the praise and recognition that it garnered, the Timothée Chalamet-led film somehow also found itself at the nucleus of immense controversy.
Looking back, it’s ironic how Shia LaBeouf got rejected for the lead role owing to “bad publicity” for a film that went on to garner a stale reputation itself. And the fact that the filmmakers turned down one problematic actor only to hire another immensely more controversial one.
Shia LaBeouf Auditioned For Armie Hammer’s Role in Call Me by Your Name
Shia LaBeouf, who’s renowned for his roles in David Ayer’s Fury (2014) and Michael Bay’s blockbuster film, Transformers (2007), had originally auditioned for the lead role of Oliver in Call Me by Your Name. Though the character was ultimately portrayed by the infamous Armie Hammer, the director had briefly considered casting LaBeouf, courtesy of his remarkable performance during the screen test.
In his 2021 memoir, Solid Ivory, screenwriter and co-producer James Ivory recalled how both he and Guadagnino were absolutely “blown away” by LaBeouf’s chemistry with Timothée Chalamet who plays Elio Perlman in the film. “The reading by the two young actors had been sensational; they made a very convincing hot couple,” the award-winning filmmaker wrote.
Unfortunately for the 36-year-old actor, however, his “bad publicity” affected the film execs’ decision, nudging them to not go ahead with LaBeouf. “Luca [Guadagnino] cast Armie Hammer and never spoke to, or of, Shia again,” Ivory stated in his memoir.
The “bad publicity” in question was the ramification of the deluge of controversies that the Padre Pio star had gotten embroiled in throughout his career. From ill-famed public meltdowns and multiple arrests to accusations of domestic abuse and s*xual battery, LaBeouf’s reputation reeked of scandals. In hindsight, however, not casting him didn’t amount to much since Hammer’s problematic history caught up to him and dragged Call Me by Your Name through the mud in the process.
The Doomed Fate of Call Me by Your Name
While the film had a decent box office run and even garnered critical acclamation, for the most part, at least, it got roped in quite a lot of controversy for its problematic themes and conflicting tones.
Call Me by Your Name is essentially a summer romance between two men that turns into a bitter heartbreak when circumstance forces them to go their separate ways. But the 7-year age gap between Chalamet’s Elio and Hammer’s Oliver in the film evoked criticism by critics who claimed that the movie teetered on the edge of pedophilia. And since the characters were homosexuals, there was even more controversy regarding how Oliver’s seemingly predatory and manipulative nature in the movie reflected a stereotypically false account of the LGBTQ+.
It didn’t help that the lead star went on to be established as one of Hollywood’s most disgraced following the string of scandals he got enmeshed in. In January 2021, a bizarre and inexplicably wild series of controversies sparked up concerning Hammer, 36, who faced allegations of s*xual abuse by multiple women. Not only that but he was also accused of r*pe and cannibalistic fetishism. Toward the end of that year, the disgraced actor was then confirmed to have checked himself into a treatment facility for drug, alcohol, and s*x troubles.
The irony surrounding all of this is incredulous.
Call Me by Your Name is available on Netflix.
Source: Solid Ivory