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Josh O’Connor in Talks to Star in Luca Guadagnino’s Gay Romance Film ‘Separate Rooms’ (EXCLUSIVE)


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Josh O’Connor is in talks to star in Luca Guadagnino’s new drama “Separate Rooms,” an adaptation of the eponymous novel by the late Italian writer Pier Vittorio Tondelli. The story follows an Italian writer named Leo who is mourning the loss of his boyfriend.

O’Connor, who stars in Guadagnino’s upcoming tennis love triangle film “Challengers” alongside Zendaya and Mike Faist, is in advanced talks to play Leo in “Separate Rooms,” whose passionate romance with a shy German musician named Thomas is marked by different forms of separation. O’Connor has already been studying Italian for the role, even though he is not yet fully contractualized, according to several sources.

Guadagnino this weekend announced in Italy’s La Repubblica’s weekly magazine Venerdì that he will shoot the film based on Tondelli’s novel “soon.” The book, titled “Camere separate” in Italian, came out in 1989 in Italy and was subsequently published in English. The film’s screenplay is by Francesca Manieri, who previously worked with Guadagnino on the HBO-Sky TV series “We Are Who We Are” about two American teenagers who live on a U.S. military base in Italy.

In “Separate Rooms,” 30-something Leo travels across Milan, Paris, London and Florence, while Thomas is a young Berlin-based pianist who is temporarily living in Paris when he first intersects with Leo. The book is divided into three parts, called “movements,” which alternate between flashbacks and reflections. After meeting in Paris, the lovers begin a long affair, meeting and traveling together in different European cities over a three-year period. The two meet when they wish, but live separately, secluding themselves in their respective loneliness, though they often write each other. At one point, Thomas starts an affair with a girl, which makes Leo deeply jealous. Then Thomas is diagnosed with an illness that will lead to his death in his hometown of Munich.

A large portion of the book, which begins with Leo being called to Munich to say goodbye to his former lover, details Leo’s mourning and his gradual recovery as he reminisces while traveling to England and the U.S. The book’s author, Tondelli, died of AIDS in 1991 at the age of 36.

“Separate Rooms,” which is likely to be Guadagnino’s next film, is being produced by Italy’s Lorenzo Mieli under his deal with Fremantle.

Mieli and Fremantle also produced Guadagnino’s Timothée Chalamet-starrer “Bones and All,” which won the best director award at Venice in 2022, and his hotly anticipated William S. Burroughs adaptation “Queer” starring Daniel Craig and Drew Starkey. “Queer” is expected to launch from Venice later this year.

Representatives for Guadagnino, O’Connor and Mieli did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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