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Photo by Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
Photo by Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

10 Fascinating Facts About Call Me By Your Name

Photo by Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
Photo by Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

It’s not easy to make someone smile through their tears, but that’s exactly the way most people respond to Call Me By Your Name, the lush tornado of young love set in the Italian countryside. Written by James Ivory and directed by Luca Guadagnino, the movie stars Timothée Chalamet as 17-year-old introspective Elio and Armie Hammer as Oliver, the confident graduate student who lives with Elio’s family over the summer.

Elio starts dating local girl Marzia (Esther Garrel), but his relationship with Oliver soon turns seductive and blossoms into a fiercely intense first love.

Grab your peaches. Here are 10 fascinating facts about Call Me By Your Name, which is up for four Oscars this year, including Best Picture.

1. IT GOT THE LONGEST STANDING OVATION IN NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL HISTORY.

Actors Armie Hammer (L) and Timothee Chalamet attend a screening of 'Call Me by Your Name' during the 55th New York Film Festival at Alice Tully Hall on October 3, 2017 in New York City.
Dia Dipasupil, Getty Images

Before it premiered at Sundance to widespread acclaim, Sony Pictures Classics had already purchased the film for $6 million. It had already made the rounds at several festivals, including Berlinale and Toronto, before screening at the New York Film Festival in October, where it garnered 10 full minutes of a sustained, standing ovation. That’s more than any other movie in the festival’s 55-year history.

2. THE STORY EXISTS BECAUSE A VACATION FELL THROUGH.

In 2005, André Aciman wanted to take his wife and children on a vacation to a Mediterranean villa but the plans fell through. Instead of springtime relaxation by the seaside, the author spent three months fictionally exploring the Italian Riviera fictionally by writing Call Me By Your Name. He may have lost a vacation, but the world got this story.

3. THE ONLY REHEARSAL CONSISTED SOLELY OF ARMIE HAMMER AND TIMOTHÉE CHALAMET MAKING OUT.

Left to right: Timothée Chalamet, Director Luca Guadagnino and Armie Hammer
Photo by Peter Spears, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Hammer called it “a bit of an ice breaker.” Guadagnino wanted a naturalistic feel to the performances, so the director called for only one rehearsal. Hammer and Chalamet joined him in the backyard of the villa where they filmed, where the director arbitrarily chose a scene to practice. That scene consisted only of Elio and Oliver rolling in the grass making out, so Hammer and Chalamet got right down to it. After a long kissing session, they looked up to find that the director had already walked off, leaving them alone.

4. ARMIE HAMMER NARRATED THE AUDIOBOOK. 

Hammer lends his vocal talents to the 2017 edition of the audiobook, which means he’s also played Elio on top of playing Oliver.

5. AUTHOR ANDRÉ ACIMAN MAKES A CAMEO IN THE MOVIE.

After other actors weren’t available, the production opted to have the book’s author, André Aciman, play Mounir, a dinner guest and husband to a character named Isaac, played by producer Peter Spears. “He had been so hands off with the movie, but we wanted him to be a part of it," Spears told The Hollywood Reporter. "He rose to the occasion, and it was pretty great.”

6. THE FINAL SCENE TAKES PLACE ON DECEMBER 6, 1983.

The airy film plays out over the kind of summer where watches get thrown into the pool and left to sink. Its ephemeral texture is aided by a lack of concern for specific times and dates, but then the winter comes. We won’t spoil the last scene, but if you’ve seen it, you know it takes place on the seventh day of Hanukah in 1983, which makes it December 6th, or 1 Tevet 5744.

7. THE FILMMAKERS CHANGED THE YEAR THE FILM TAKES PLACE IN BECAUSE OF AIDS AND '80S MUSIC.

The novel takes place in 1987, but Guadagnino changed it to 1983 for the film partially because the world was already far deeper into the AIDS crisis by 1987 than by 1983. As Chalamet described it, the time change made it so the film “wasn’t as intense and could be a little more utopic.” Guadagnino was also 12 in 1983 and wanted to use the music from his childhood.

8. THE FILM IS DEDICATED TO BILL PAXTON.

The legendary actor, who passed away on February 25, 2017, wasn’t involved in producing Call Me By Your Name in any way, so the dedication initially seemed puzzling to many. As producer Peter Spears explained, “My husband, Brian Swardstrom, was Bill’s best friend and agent for almost his entire career. Brian is also the agent of Timothée Chalamet (as well as Tilda Swinton, which is how we all met Luca years ago). Brian and Bill came to visit us on the set while we were shooting in Crema, Italy … Bill and Luca became friends, as they had been great admirers of each other’s work for many years, and Luca chose to honor his memory by dedicating the movie to him. A very moving gesture for which Brian and I will be forever grateful.”

9. IT SHARES ITS STARS WITH OTHER OSCAR BEST PICTURE NOMINEES.

Left to right: Amira Casar as Annella, Michael Stulhbarg as Mr. Perlman, Armie Hammer as Oli-ver and Timothée Chalamet as Elio in 'Call Me By Your Name'
Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, Sony Pictures Classics

Not only does Best Actor nominee Chalamet star in Call Me By Your Name, he co-stars in fellow Best Picture nominee Lady Bird as the jerky love interest, Kyle. Michael Stuhlbarg, who plays Elio’s professorial father, is in three Best Picture Nominees this year: Call Me By Your Name, The Shape of Water, and The Post—becoming only the sixth actor in history to pull that particular hat trick (while somehow not being nominated for Best Supporting Actor).

10. THERE’S GOING TO BE A SEQUEL THAT WILL DEAL WITH AIDS.

The original book also contains an epilogue that outlines Elio and Oliver’s relationship (or lack of one) over a 20-year span. Guadagnino would love to reunite with the cast to make a sequel, set a few years later, and would plan to recognize the AIDS epidemic’s toll in a way Call Me By Your Name sidestepped.

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13 Fascinating Facts About Nina Simone
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Nina Simone, who would’ve celebrated her 85th birthday today, was known for using her musical platform to speak out. “I think women play a major part in opening the doors for better understanding around the world,” the “Strange Fruit” songstress once said. Though she chose to keep her personal life shrouded in secrecy, these facts grant VIP access into a life well-lived and the music that still lives on.

1. NINA SIMONE WAS HER STAGE NAME.

The singer was born as Eunice Waymon on February 21, 1933. But by age 21, the North Carolina native was going by a different name at her nightly Atlantic City gig: Nina Simone. She hoped that adopting a different name would keep her mother from finding out about her performances. “Nina” was her boyfriend’s nickname for her at the time. “Simone” was inspired by Simone Signoret, an actress that the singer admired.

2. SHE HAD HUMBLE BEGINNINGS.


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There's a reason that much of the singer's music had gospel-like sounds. Simone—the daughter of a Methodist minister and a handyman—was raised in the church and started playing the piano by ear at age 3. She got her start in her hometown of Tryon, North Carolina, where she played gospel hymns and classical music at Old St. Luke’s CME, the church where her mother ministered. After Simone died on April 21, 2003, she was memorialized at the same sanctuary.

3. SHE WAS BOOK SMART...

Simone, who graduated valedictorian of her high school class, studied at the prestigious Julliard School of Music for a brief period of time before applying to Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music. Unfortunately, Simone was denied admission. For years, she maintained that her race was the reason behind the rejection. But a Curtis faculty member, Vladimir Sokoloff, has gone on record to say that her skin color wasn’t a factor. “It had nothing to do with her…background,” he said in 1992. But Simone ended up getting the last laugh: Two days before her death, the school awarded her an honorary degree.

4. ... WITH DEGREES TO PROVE IT.

Simone—who preferred to be called “doctor Nina Simone”—was also awarded two other honorary degrees, from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Malcolm X College.

5. HER CAREER WAS ROOTED IN ACTIVISM.

A photo of Nina Simone circa 1969

Gerrit de Bruin

At the age of 12, Simone refused to play at a church revival because her parents had to sit at the back of the hall. From then on, Simone used her art to take a stand. Many of her songs in the '60s, including “Mississippi Goddamn,” “Why (The King of Love Is Dead),” and “Young, Gifted and Black,” addressed the rampant racial injustices of that era.

Unfortunately, her activism wasn't always welcome. Her popularity diminished; venues didn’t invite her to perform, and radio stations didn’t play her songs. But she pressed on—even after the Civil Rights Movement. In 1997, Simone told Interview Magazine that she addressed her songs to the third world. In her own words: “I’m a real rebel with a cause.”

6. ONE OF HER MOST FAMOUS SONGS WAS BANNED.

Mississippi Goddam,” her 1964 anthem, only took her 20 minutes to an hour to write, according to legend—but it made an impact that still stands the test of time. When she wrote it, Simone had been fed up with the country’s racial unrest. Medger Evers, a Mississippi-born civil rights activist, was assassinated in his home state in 1963. That same year, the Ku Klux Klan bombed a Birmingham Baptist church and as a result, four young black girls were killed. Simone took to her notebook and piano to express her sentiments.

“Alabama's gotten me so upset/Tennessee made me lose my rest/And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam,” she sang.

Some say that the song was banned in Southern radio stations because “goddam” was in the title. But others argue that the subject matter is what caused the stations to return the records cracked in half.

7. SHE NEVER HAD A NUMBER ONE HIT.

Nina Simone released over 40 albums during her decades-spanning career including studio albums, live versions, and compilations, and scored 15 Grammy nominations. But her highest-charting (and her first) hit, “I Loves You, Porgy,” peaked at #2 on the U.S. R&B charts in 1959. Still, her music would go on to influence legendary singers like Roberta Flack and Aretha Franklin.

8. SHE USED HER STYLE TO MAKE A STATEMENT.

Head wraps, bold jewelry, and floor-skimming sheaths were all part of Simone’s stylish rotation. In 1967, she wore the same black crochet fishnet jumpsuit with flesh-colored lining for the entire year. Not only did it give off the illusion of her being naked, but “I wanted people to remember me looking a certain way,” she said. “It made it easier for me.”

9. SHE HAD MANY HOMES.

New York City, Liberia, Barbados, England, Belgium, France, Switzerland, and the Netherlands were all places that Simone called home. She died at her home in Southern France, and her ashes were scattered in several African countries.

10. SHE HAD A FAMOUS INNER CIRCLE.

During the late '60s, Simone and her second husband Andrew Stroud lived next to Malcolm X and his family in Mount Vernon, New York. He wasn't her only famous pal. Simone was very close with playwright Lorraine Hansberry. After Hansberry’s death, Simone penned “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” in her honor, a tribute to Hansberry's play of the same title. Simone even struck up a brief friendship with David Bowie in the mid-1970s, who called her every night for a month to offer his advice and support.

11. YOU CAN STILL VISIT SIMONE IN HER HOMETOWN.

Photo of Nina Simone
Amazing Nina Documentary Film, LLC, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

In 2010, an 8-foot sculpture of Eunice Waymon was erected in her hometown of Tryon, North Carolina. Her likeness stands tall in Nina Simone Plaza, where she’s seated and playing an eternal song on a keyboard that floats in midair. Her daughter, Lisa Simone Kelly, gave sculptor Zenos Frudakis some of Simone’s ashes to weld into the sculpture’s bronze heart. "It's not something very often done, but I thought it was part of the idea of bringing her home," Frudakis said.

12. YOU'VE PROBABLY HEARD HER MUSIC IN RECENT HITS.

Rihanna sang a few verses of Simone’s “Do What You Gotta Do” on Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo. He’s clearly a superfan: “Blood on the Leaves” and his duet with Jay Z, “New Day,” feature Simone samples as well, along with Lil’ Wayne’s “Dontgetit,” Common’s “Misunderstood” and a host of other tracks.

13. HER MUSIC IS STILL BEING PERFORMED.

Nina Revisited… A Tribute to Nina Simone was released along with the Netflix documentary in 2015. On the album, Lauryn Hill, Jazmine Sullivan, Usher, Alice Smith, and more paid tribute to the legend by performing covers of 16 of her most famous tracks.

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15 Heartwarming Facts About Mister Rogers
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Though Mister Rogers' Neighborhood premiered 50 years ago, Fred Rogers remains an icon of kindness for the ages. An innovator of children’s television, his salt-of-the-earth demeanor and genuinely gentle nature taught a generation of kids the value of kindness. In celebration of the groundbreaking children's series' 50th anniversary, here are 15 things you might not have known about everyone’s favorite “neighbor.”

1. HE WAS BULLIED AS A CHILD.

According to Benjamin Wagner, who directed the 2010 documentary Mister Rogers & Me—and was, in fact, Rogers’s neighbor on Nantucket—Rogers was overweight and shy as a child, and often taunted by his classmates when he walked home from school. “I used to cry to myself when I was alone,” Rogers said. “And I would cry through my fingers and make up songs on the piano.” It was this experience that led Rogers to want to look below the surface of everyone he met to what he called the “essential invisible” within them.

2. HE WAS AN ORDAINED MINISTER.

Rogers was an ordained minister and, as such, a man of tremendous faith who preached tolerance wherever he went. When Amy Melder, a six-year-old Christian viewer, sent Rogers a drawing she made for him with a letter that promised “he was going to heaven,” Rogers wrote back to his young fan:

“You told me that you have accepted Jesus as your Savior. It means a lot to me to know that. And, I appreciated the scripture verse that you sent. I am an ordained Presbyterian minister, and I want you to know that Jesus is important to me, too. I hope that God’s love and peace come through my work on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”

3. HE RESPONDED TO ALL HIS FAN MAIL.

Responding to fan mail was part of Rogers’s very regimented daily routine, which began at 5 a.m. with a prayer and included time for studying, writing, making phone calls, swimming, weighing himself, and responding to every fan who had taken the time to reach out to him.

“He respected the kids who wrote [those letters],” Heather Arnet, an assistant on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 2005. “He never thought about throwing out a drawing or letter. They were sacred."

According to Arnet, the fan mail he received wasn’t just a bunch of young kids gushing to their idol. Kids would tell Rogers about a pet or family member who died, or other issues with which they were grappling. “No child ever received a form letter from Mister Rogers," Arnet said, noting that he received between 50 and 100 letters per day.

4. ANIMALS LOVED HIM AS MUCH AS PEOPLE DID.

It wasn’t just kids and their parents who loved Mister Rogers. Koko, the Stanford-educated gorilla who understands 2000 English words and can also converse in American Sign Language, was an avid Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood watcher, too. When Rogers visited her, she immediately gave him a hug—and took his shoes off.

5. HE WAS AN ACCOMPLISHED MUSICIAN.

Though Rogers began his education in the Ivy League, at Dartmouth, he transferred to Rollins College following his freshman year in order to pursue a degree in music (he graduated Magna cum laude). In addition to being a talented piano player, he was also a wonderful songwriter and wrote all the songs for Mister Rogers' Neighborhood—plus hundreds more.

6. HIS INTEREST IN TELEVISION WAS BORN OUT OF A DISDAIN FOR THE MEDIUM.

Rogers’s decision to enter into the television world wasn’t out of a passion for the medium—far from it. "When I first saw children's television, I thought it was perfectly horrible," Rogers told Pittsburgh Magazine. "And I thought there was some way of using this fabulous medium to be of nurture to those who would watch and listen."

7. KIDS WHO WATCHED MISTER ROGERS’ NEIGHBORHOOD RETAINED MORE THAN THOSE WHO WATCHED SESAME STREET.

A Yale study pitted fans of Sesame Street against Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood watchers and found that kids who watched Mister Rogers tended to remember more of the story lines, and had a much higher “tolerance of delay,” meaning they were more patient.

8. ROGERS’S MOM KNIT ALL OF HIS SWEATERS.

If watching an episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood gives you sweater envy, we’ve got bad news: You’d never be able to find his sweaters in a store. All of those comfy-looking cardigans were knitted by Fred’s mom, Nancy. In an interview with the Archive of American Television, Rogers explained how his mother would knit sweaters for all of her loved ones every year as Christmas gifts. “And so until she died, those zippered sweaters I wear on the Neighborhood were all made by my mother,” he explained.

9. HE WAS COLORBLIND.

Those brightly colored sweaters were a trademark of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, but the colorblind host might not have always noticed. In a 2003 article, just a few days after his passing, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote that:

Among the forgotten details about Fred Rogers is that he was so colorblind he could not distinguish between tomato soup and pea soup.

He liked both, but at lunch one day 50 years ago, he asked his television partner Josie Carey to taste it for him and tell him which it was.

Why did he need her to do this, Carey asked him. Rogers liked both, so why not just dip in?

"If it's tomato soup, I'll put sugar in it," he told her.

10. HE WORE SNEAKERS AS A PRODUCTION CONSIDERATION.

According to Wagner, Rogers’s decision to change into sneakers for each episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was about production, not comfort. “His trademark sneakers were born when he found them to be quieter than his dress shoes as he moved about the set,” wrote Wagner.

11. MICHAEL KEATON GOT HIS START ON THE SHOW.

Oscar-nominated actor Michael Keaton's first job was as a stagehand on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, manning Picture, Picture, and appearing as Purple Panda.

12. ROGERS GAVE GEORGE ROMERO HIS FIRST PAYING GIG, TOO.

It's hard to imagine a gentle, soft-spoken, children's education advocate like Rogers sitting down to enjoy a gory, violent zombie movie like Dawn of the Dead, but it actually aligns perfectly with Rogers's brand of thoughtfulness. He checked out the horror flick to show his support for then-up-and-coming filmmaker George Romero, whose first paying job was with everyone's favorite neighbor.

“Fred was the first guy who trusted me enough to hire me to actually shoot film,” Romero said. As a young man just out of college, Romero honed his filmmaking skills making a series of short segments for Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, creating a dozen or so titles such as “How Lightbulbs Are Made” and “Mr. Rogers Gets a Tonsillectomy.” The zombie king, who passed away in 2017, considered the latter his first big production, shot in a working hospital: “I still joke that 'Mr. Rogers Gets a Tonsillectomy' is the scariest film I’ve ever made. What I really mean is that I was scared sh*tless while I was trying to pull it off.”

13. ROGERS HELPED SAVE PUBLIC TELEVISION.

In 1969, Rogers—who was relatively unknown at the time—went before the Senate to plead for a $20 million grant for public broadcasting, which had been proposed by President Johnson but was in danger of being sliced in half by Richard Nixon. His passionate plea about how television had the potential to turn kids into productive citizens worked; instead of cutting the budget, funding for public TV increased from $9 million to $22 million.

14. HE ALSO SAVED THE VCR.

Years later, Rogers also managed to convince the Supreme Court that using VCRs to record TV shows at home shouldn’t be considered a form of copyright infringement (which was the argument of some in this contentious debate). Rogers argued that recording a program like his allowed working parents to sit down with their children and watch shows as a family. Again, he was convincing.

15. ONE OF HIS SWEATERS WAS DONATED TO THE SMITHSONIAN.

In 1984, Rogers donated one of his iconic sweaters to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

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