Michael Stuhlbarg says his first gig working for Luca Guadagnino, on 2017’s Call Me by Your Name, was “so buoyant, magical, fun, moving and really singular” that when the Italian auteur came calling with another part, it was an instant yes.
Like Call Me by Your Name, the new film, cannibalism-themed love story Bones and All, casts him opposite Timothée Chalamet. And, apparently, Stuhlbarg had lots of questions to get prepared. Like, a lot.
“Michael sent me and [screenwriter David Kajganich] something like a hundred questions, probably more than a hundred questions in preparation for the character,” Guadagnino said inside the TCL Chinese Theater during the AFI Fest premiere’s post-screening Q&A.
The queries might make more sense after seeing Stuhlbarg’s turn in the MGM/UA release as a mullet-sporting “eater” in a particularly creepy scene set around a campfire and a case of beer opposite Chalamet, Taylor Russell, and filmmaker and occasional actor David Gordon Green. “They were all inspiring questions,” Guadagnino praised. He must’ve put the answers to good use because even his co-star Mark Rylance was convinced: “That’s a wonderful, powerful scene, isn’t it?” he said during the Q&A.
Having the chance to share another scene with Chalamet also sounds like it was a pretty powerful experience for Stuhlbarg. “I love the way he thinks. I love to see him think, I love to see him invent. I love the playfulness he has, his availability and his heart,” said Stuhlbarg, who also teamed with Guadagnino as the narrator of his 2020 documentary, Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams. “He’s just so effusive and fun. We had such a good time together [on Bones and All], and the little time we had — it was only a couple of hours where we could have a conversation other than do the work itself — we got to take a drive from point A to point B together. We were able to catch up a little bit about our lives since [Call Me by Your Name], and that was delightful. I’d love nothing more than to get a chance to play together again.”
He said the same of Guadagnino. “I hope that we get to work together several times, if I’m lucky enough to do that. I love his imagination. I love his inspiration. As we get older, you sort of think, ‘How do I want to spend my time?’ What do I want to make? What are the stories we want to tell? And who do we want to tell them with? If Luca wants me to be there with him on any of those, I’ll be there.”
Bones and All hits theaters on Nov. 18.
A version of this story first appeared in the Nov. 16 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.