Armie Hammer is an eminently likeable actor . For some strange reason he’s constantly assumed to be gay (which is fine , really) because of his star turn in the gay film Call Me By Your Name.
Armie lets laughter deal with questions of his sexuality. But somewhere down the line, the question on whether Armie and his co-star Timothee Chalamet, who were fully unclothed on the sets, were actually making out during this Oscar-winning film’s shooting in Italy, must have begun to rankle on Armie’s nerves .
There were also the constant questionings on his torrid lip-to-lip smooch with Leonardo di Caprio in J Edgar. Armie made it worse by confessing that he enjoyed the kiss with Leonardo.The questions about Armie’s sexuality multiplied.Recently his 10-year marriage came to an end, and that was a shock to his fans because…well, he seemed to be such an attentive hasband and father.But then one never knows with these things.
With his latest film an adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s eternally beloved novel Rebecca, the queer notions about Armie will vanish. In Rebecca and also in his other forthcoming project Death On The Nile Armie plays notoriously heterosexual characters, almost in defiance of the image of same-sex inclinations propounded by his most famous screen role to date.
Rebecca is a tricky one for any actor. It is the most widely read English-language novel in the world, and it’s been made into a nearly-flawless film by Alfred Hitchcock in 1940 with Laurence Olivier playing the mysterious Maxim de Winter who brings home a new bride , the stunning Joane Fontaine only to be bullied by his first wife’s ghost and her faithful woman-Friday the intimidating Mrs Danvers.
I think the question, is Armie Hammer as good as Sir Laurence, is irrelevant. To us the question to be asked is, is Armie as good as the yesteryears’ matinee idol Biswajeet in Kohra the 1964 unofficial Bollywood adaptation of Rebecca which did to the original what perpetrators do to rape victims.
This Bollywood version of Rebecca was so radically removed from the original that I wondered how they got away with the changes including a completely different ending.What stayed with me was the ethereal Waheeda Rehman singing O beqaraar dil in Lata Mangeshkar’s timeless voice ,playing the timid repressed new wife of the mysterious aristocrat who looks so suspicious you wonder what secrets his heart holds.
I have often wondered why director Biren Nag cast Biswajeet in the role. The story goes that the producer Hemant Kumar Mukherjee wanted to repeat the hit pair of his earlier production Bees Saal Baad, and never mind suitability of adaptability.
So yes, on the eve of the release of the new version of Rebecca on Netflix(streaming on October 21) I can say with utmost certainty that Armie Hammer makes a better Daphne du Maurier hero than Biswajeet. As for Sir Laurence Olivier, shall we let the legend be?