If anyone deserves to make her own movie, it’s Julie Delpy. She’s worked with some of the best filmmakers in the world, including Jean-Luc Godard (Detective, 1985), Krzysztof Kieslowski (Trois Couleurs, 1993-’94), and Richard Linklater (Before Sunrise, 1995, and Before Sunset, 2004). She’s one of the smartest, sexiest and most authentic actresses around. She’s been writing screenplays for more than 20 years, since she was 17. She co-wrote the screenplay for Before Sunset and got an Oscar nomination. She even swears like Quentin Tarantino. So why has it taken so long for her to make her first feature?
Her bittersweet, randy, rich 2 Days in Paris, in which she plays a Frenchwoman who visits her folks back home in Paris with her prickly American boyfriend, shows all the makings of a true auteur, not least of all because she wrote, directed, edited, composed the music, co-produced, and did the still photography. To top it off, her former boyfriend Adam Goldberg plays her boyfriend, her real-life parents play her parents, and her cat Max plays her on-screen cat, Jean-Luc.
Is the cat named Jean-Luc because he looks like the director?
No, but I always thought it was funny, and I could imagine Marion would call her cat Jean-Luc because she likes Godard films.
The cat is terrific, though he doesn’t have a lot to work with.
He is terrific.
You still have him?
Yeah, he’s on the bed right now.
But not Adam Goldberg. Working with an ex-boyfriend: tense?
The only danger is that when you’ve been with someone, they start to act like an ex-boyfriend. But we didn’t really have time for that stuff. We were shooting so fast. I mean, he’s Adam. I knew what to expect when he showed up in Paris. I knew there are certain things to handle that the French crew couldn’t believe. I could put up with that shit. But for me, it’s like a certain kind of behavior you know of, like certain actors in Hollywood that are used to being extremely pampered and suddenly they come to a French set and it’s not at all the same. But it wasn’t more than I expected.
So he’s a little spoiled?
No, just the usual pampered thing. He wanted a personal assistant, so we got him one. But he wasn’t so bad. We had one trailer for everybody. The producer had to pay for it. His children don’t have clothes for school this year. His wife was crying every day. I’m just laughing at some reviews that say, “Why did she do everything?” I almost want to tell them, “Hey, if I didn’t do the editing, there would be no movie,” because we had zero money. I sold everything I owned apart from my house, because if I sold my house I’d kill myself. I’ve been working on two films in the last four years, and I’ve made $60,000.
Yikes. So how much did the film cost?
Maybe 500, probably more like 400.
Four hundred dollars? I could afford that.
No, four hundred thousand. That’s not very much. We had no budget for a lot of things in post-production. Like editing, or for music. I had to sing the ending song because it was a deal I made with the music company that if I sang on the ending song they would pay for the songs in the film.
Does it bug you that it’s taken 20 years for you to make a movie and you almost had to sell your house to do it?
My anger is quickly transformed into creative energy. Instead of getting angry and bitter, I kept writing more and more and more. That’s my only way of dealing with things. It’s never going to be easy for me. I know that. And people will try and stop me from making my films, and people will be offended by this film, I guarantee you. It’s not a safe movie.
You’ve had experience with some of the top directors of the past 20 years. what have you learned from them?
Kieslowski was very supportive when I decided to go to film school in New York. I spent about a year meeting him quite regularly, talking about writing screenplays and moviemaking and all that and how to make your films your own and no one else’s. Which is funny, because everyone’s comparing my film to Woody Allen’s. But I really didn’t mean to. I just am, unfortunately, neurotic, and I think it transpires throughout the film and comes out that way. I love Woody Allen; it’s not a bad compliment, but I know it’s going to backlash on me eventually.
Well, Kieslowski is the Woody Allen of Polish filmmakers.
Which is a very different sense of humor. And Richard Linklater, not in the directing so much, but the fact that he let me write so much of Before Sunset and a lot of Before Sunrise as well, made me realize that I could write — because I had written before but had always been rejected. The fact that my writing was validated in Before Sunset.
Women directors, then: they’re coming back?
I don’t know if they’re coming back or just finally making movies, period. There are very few women directors. It’s harder. I know that for a fact. My scripts weren’t that bad. So it’s not a question of the writing. It’s something else. If it’s being a woman, I don’t know.
Validated by an Oscar nomination, no less. And if you get nominated for 2 Days, who will you be wearing on the red carpet?
I have to lose like 40 pounds first to look like everyone else.