BOP Interview: Julie Delpy
By Ryan Mazie
July 11, 2012
“In my films I only reveal something about myself that is very small,” said 2 Days In New York director-writer-star and Oscar nominee Julie Delpy (Before Sunset, Broken Flowers), “I do not expose myself entirely.” During the roundtable interview to promote her latest film (a sequel to 2 Days in Paris, although it stands very well on its own), I couldn’t help but guess how much of Delpy’s real life we were seeing on the big screen in New York as her artist character, Marion.
Just as the interview was about to begin, Delpy briefly excused herself for looking at her cell phone to send a text to her boyfriend looking after her child, laughing as she said “irresponsible men,” a fairly common theme in her films. In New York, Chris Rock plays Marion’s radio personality boyfriend. Both characters have kids from previous relationships.
Delpy’s real-life father, Albert Delpy, plays her character’s dad in the film; a jolly brute who accelerates most of the film’s cultural clash conflicts along with Marion’s nymphomaniac sister (co-screenwriter Alexia Landeau) and her guileless, creepy boyfriend (Alexandre Nahon).
When prodded about her father’s frank, sexual dialogue in the film, Delpy defensively asks, “What age do you think sexuality stops at?” before admitting this is something from her real life. “France has a thing where you can be smart, political, and intellectual and talk about sex all of the time,” Delpy smirked.
Delpy on 2 Days in New York’s open dialogue about sex:
Julie Delpy: “You can speak very freely about sexuality and not watch pornography everyday. I think there is a difference between being free-spirited and expressing your mind without actually being dirty and obsessed with sex and doing nasty things all day long… I feel like I am a person who jokes about a lot of stuff, but in the end I am an extremely romantic person that would never go to an orgy or do crazy, disgusting things. I am very straight. But I can joke a lot about sex, because I am stable on that level. I never watched pornography… (thinks) well, only as a teenager just to see how it worked. I was like ‘ugghh,’ it didn’t seem very exciting or nice.”
Another part of Delpy that she seemed to have let sneak into her film is the tricky experience of dating an American while being from a French family and the inherent misunderstandings, which 2 Days in New York’s humor and plot thrive on. “First of all, most families and couples misunderstand each other when speaking the same language,” said Delpy, “Then you add in people who don’t speak the same language, it multiplies by 20 all of the confusion, which is fun to me.”
The miscommunication situation jumped off screen as well. Working with a largely American crew, shooting the film in the titular city, she kept French director of photography, Lubomir Bakchev, to keep in the stylistic theme of her first film which he also DP’d. While admitting to the language barrier, she said, “Sometimes I would talk to [Lubomir] and Chris wouldn’t know what I had said, but sometimes it is good not to have the actors know everything you are saying.”
Keeping Rock in mind for the lead, Delpy said that he appreciated how little of a part being a mixed race couple played into the script and that it wasn’t even a subject Delpy even thought of while writing.
On making the characters a mixed-race couple:
JD: “To me it is important to make sure that them being a mixed-race couple is not a problem. They don’t give a shit. Their friends don’t give a shit. The dad doesn’t give a shit. His parents don’t give a shit. That time is over. To me it is refreshing and I hope people will say, “Who gives a shit?” Nowadays to me it seems like in the real world it is not a big deal.