BRIGHT LIGHT
with LUCA GUADAGNINO

Illuminating insights from the brilliant director

Luca was born in Sicily, spent part of his childhood in Ethiopia and now lives in Crema, a small city in the north of Italy where he was photographed by Mark Peckmezian.

Interview: GERT JONKERS
Photography: MARK PECKMEZIAN

Gert Jonkers: Luca, where are you?

Luca Guadagnino: I'm finally home after a very long time on the road, working, working, working.

GJ: Are you ready for a holiday?

LG: Not yet, I still have a few things to do, but after that I’ll be having a holiday, yes.

GJ: Where do you normally go? What’s your typical holiday procedure?

LG: I stay home and I cook.

GJ: Really?

LG: Oh yes. I cook like crazy.

GJ: You’re not a sun-loving, beach-going holiday person?

LG: No, I don’t like the sun. And because I travel so much, I just want to be home. To be honest, I miscalculated my level of energy when I decided to do two films back to back – Call Me by Your Name and Suspiria – because I didn’t fully realise that you have to promote these films by being constantly on the road, which isn’t the most exciting side of making films.

GJ: It’s interesting for a director to dislike the sun. Isn’t cinema essentially entirely based on light?

LG: I would agree with that. Light, or the lack of light. I also know that I myself am completely and totally in need of light.

GJ: Do you mean when you’re working?

LG: In my life. I am restless in places that are devoid of light.

GJ: You’re not a night person?

LG: Not really. I’m an early morning person.

GJ: Not to ask the obvious, but what role does lighting play in your work? Your films are particularly beautiful and precise when it comes to light: the golden richness in I Am Love, the scorching sun in A Bigger Splash, the warm romance of Call Me by Your Name, the cold light in Suspiria.

LG: Cold? I would say Suspiria’s light is muted, apart from the finale. I mean, that’s what you do as a director: you find the light based on the story you’re telling. But I think it’s true that I’m particularly drawn to light, filmically.

GJ: You say you’ll do nothing for a while, but knowing you that can’t be true. You must have a million new projects lined up even though you want a break?

LG: I have a movie that I’m producing this spring. But I’m not going to engage in much film-making myself for the next six or seven months. I bought a house in the countryside, so I need to work on that, and I will keep working as an interior designer, of course.

GJ: You bought a house in the countryside?

LG: I bought a new house! It’s fantastic. I hope I get to stay there for at least a month every summer.

GJ: Oh wow, okay. Is it an old house?

LG: Very.

GJ: A classic Italian countryside palazzo?

LG: I’ll send you a picture afterwards.

GJ: How will you renovate it? Is there a central concept to the house?

LG: Well, it was built at the beginning of the 19th century and then redecorated at the end of that century by this very important Italian architect called Carlo Ceppi, who was the greatest art nouveau architect in Italy at the time. He built the Central Station of Turin and he was the go-to architect for affluent society. When he was asked to redecorate this 60-year-old countryside mansion, he basically created a sort of art nouveau carapace. And now, a hundred or more years later, the house is kind of restrained in what’s left of Mr. Ceppi’s refurbishments. My aim is to have a conversation and dialogue with what Mr. Ceppi did. I think I’ll use a lot of fabric.

GJ: Nice. Is it already a bright house or is it a grotty man cave?

LG: No, it is very bright. Very, very, very, very bright. It’s beautiful.

GJ: Is there a garden?

LG: There is a 15-acre park.

GJ: Oh my goodness, you’ve created the dream that you were talking about when we spoke a few years ago, of one day owning a country house with an amazing garden.

LG: I did! I finally got that done. But now I need to work on it. Maybe I will abandon cinema and only do interior design.

GJ: Do you find moonlight romantic?

LG: I like the moon, but it can be scary – it makes me think of lycanthropes.

GJ: Lycanthropes?

LG: Yes, what’s the other name for them? Werewolves.