A new friend is perched in the window of James Ivory’s New York City apartment.
“He’s on the window sill looking out,” Ivory says of his Oscar, the gold statuette he brought home from Sunday night’s Academy Award ceremonies in Hollywood. While other awards he’s collected over the decades of his illustrious filmmaking career are in various locations, “This one I want to have here.”
Ivory, 89, who was raised in Klamath Falls, won his Oscar for best adapted screenplay for “Call Me By Your Name.” He had previously been nominated three times, all as a director, for “Room With A View,” “Howard’s End” and “Remains of the Day.” Ivory significantly altered the screenplay from the book “Call Me By Your Name,” written by Andre Aicman, providing more dialogue and eliminating the novel’s ending.
Although he was regarded as the favorite to win, Ivory said he was never sure what might happen.
“An awful lot had been said and written saying that I was likely to win, but there are always those upsets, so you don’t get too confident,” he said.
And when they did call his name, "I was up and out of my seat in a flash,” he said of working his way onstage, where he made brief remarks praising the film’s direction, Luca Guadagino, and his now deceased long-time producer and screenwriter, Ismail Merchant and Ruth Prawer Jhabvala.
Ivory said the impact of winning his first Academy Award truly didn’t hit him until he was going through the gauntlet of required interviews.
“It didn’t really come clear to me until after I left the stage,” while carrying his Oscar to the various stops and a press conference.
“I was looking down and seeing the Oscar in my hand … the feeling of it … knowing, ‘This is my Oscar. I’m carrying my Oscar!’ "
He’s also delighted he won for screenwriting, partly because it’s something he never expected, partly because of the circuitous path that led to doing the screenplay. Ivory was originally asked to be a producer, then co-director, then screenwriter.
“To be nominated for writing … it was totally unexpected, that was the biggest surprise of it all.”
He says he’s proud for two other reasons, including being the oldest person to win an Oscar. Likewise, Ivory is delighted to be — probably — the first-ever Klamath Union High School graduate to win an Academy Award.
“I’m glad to be that person,” said the 1946 KU graduate.
Along with national buzz for being the oldest winner, Ivory caused a stir with his tuxedo shirt that featured a painting of Timothy Chalamet, the young actor who earned a Best Actor nomination for his role in the movie. Before the ceremonies, Ivory met with artist Andrew Mania in London to discuss a possible shirt. Mania later returned with a completed shirt.
“It’s all the talk,” Ivory laughingly said of the shirt. “Everybody went crazy about it. So now everybody’s trying to get one.”
For Ivory, being a fashion trendsetter at age 89 is only natural. During his senior year at KU, he was named the “most stylish” in the high school yearbook, “So that’s just keeping up with tradition.”
— Reach freelance reporter Lee Juillerat at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-880-4139.