Fresh off his Academy Award for best adapted screenplay for “Call Me by Your Name,” renowned director James Ivory visited Newport’s Jane Pickens Theater on Sunday for a screening of one of his best-known films, “The Remains of the Day” (1993). After the screening, Ivory engaged in an onstage talk with Chuck Hinman of Rhode Island National Public Radio.
Hinman asked Ivory, 89, if he was getting tired of being referred to as the oldest winner in competitive Oscar history. Ivory, who other than using a cane shows little sign of advanced age, wryly replied, “Long after ‘Call Me By Your Name’ has turned to dust and all my own films have turned to dust, that’s the kind of fact that goes down in history.”
After earning three Oscar nominations for directing — “A Room With a View” (1985), “Howards End” (1992), and “The Remains of the Day” — Ivory’s first Oscar win wasn’t unexpected. “I’d won all the other prizes for that screenplay that anyone could possibly win,” he said to applause. “I got up there and saw a sign flashing ‘wrap it up’ so I just talked a bit faster.”
He said the biggest surprise he’s experienced over the past year is “the extraordinary passion” that teenage girls have shown for “Call Me by Your Name,” an Italy-set romance between 17-year-old Elio (Timothée Chalamet) and older Oliver (Armie Hammer). “It’s not simply Timothée Chalamet, although that has a lot to do with it. I’ve been to screenings with lots of young girls there and they are crying and crying. I didn’t think the film had that kind of relevance, but it does,” said Ivory, who revealed that his next project will be with director Alexander Payne but he didn’t want to elaborate.
Ivory told the crowd that he loves Newport and the historic Jane Pickens Theater. “Are you OK with me coming back? [“The Remains of the Day”] was a big hit. The next one may be a flop. But I’m bringing it because I like it.”