“So, Ethan Hawke said I was crazy in an interview,” filmmaker Julie Delpy says to a PR person. “I’m going to bust his little balls.”
It’s almost a little too in-scene: It’s Julie Delpy, the French, indie darling who’s doing her whole effortlessly dressed down thing — a black wrap dress, no bra — talking about her perma-love interest from “Before Sunrise” and its sequel, “Before Sunset.”
Of course, “his little balls” is not the stuff of their bittersweet romance films. But it is the sort of cavalier comment you’d find in her other pair of movies, “2 Days in Paris,” and her newest, “2 Days in New York,” except maybe a bit more over-the-top.
In the stateside sequel to 2007’s “Paris,” Marion (Delpy), a new mom who’s no longer with her long-time paramour Jack (Adam Goldberg), begins again with another live-in beau, played by Chris Rock. The film borrows a lot from its Frenchie brethren — this time, as the title suggests, Marion’s dad and sis visit New York and proceed to wreak havoc on her life and her relationship.
Here, Delpy speaks candidly about “New York,” Goldberg’s negative feelings on “2 Days in Paris,” her political stance and how she feels about Ethan Hawke calling her crazy.
Was “2 Days in New York” harder for you than “2 Days in Paris”?
Well, the first one was difficult because it was my first film, but this one was a little more difficult…doing a union film in New York, it’s like a moving circus every time you go anywhere.
Your mother starred in “Paris.” It must have been incredibly difficult to do a sequel after she passed away.
Oh, that part. Well, that part was hard [during] the writing process because when I started writing the film my mom was alive and then she passed away. Then I kind of gave up the film, I was like, “Forget it.” And then I thought of it as more of an homage to her and I felt like I needed to do it also for my dad. It wouldn’t be fair for him; he was really struggling with a lot of stuff. And I just wrote the screenplay — also as an homage to my dad as an actor who’s such a lovely, funny guy. But I wanted to do an homage that wasn’t melodramatic because I hate melodrama. I mean, I do love melodrama but not in my life.
And your dad was on board?
Yeah…it was very helpful for me to write this film. And actually I wrote another film that I shot called “The Skylab,” which is also an homage to my mom where I actually play her. It’s a French movie set in 1979 and I play her at 40…and I had to do it. I wrote the two films in 2009, and I had my baby, so I would write this film when he was napping and at night I would write “The Skylab.” But it was very helpful. You know, I couldn’t handle the death so writing was very helpful.
Was Adam Goldberg at all upset that he wasn’t involved in the sequel? Did you confer with him?
Not really. [Laughs] He probably was a little upset. He wasn’t very happy with the first film.
Really? Why not?
He didn’t like it… He didn’t love it. The first time he saw it he sent me a text, he was like, “You could have made a great film and you kind of failed.” I was like, “OK. Thank you.” [Laughs] Yeah, he didn’t like it, which is fine! I was not even angry at him; he’s a very complex person.
And you dated him…
And I dated him. Yeah, I’m not angry at him, I’m not angry at anybody on the planet…I know where Adam comes from and he wanted something a little less funny, he wanted to be taken more seriously or something, I don’t know; it came from some weird place.
In “New York” you got very upset with a critic who was not a fan of your work, so that’s not at all informed by your feelings?
I don’t have that thing about critics. Actually, what’s funny is that all my artist, writer, director friends [that part where I ream out a critic] is their favorite scene in the film, which is interesting. It’s kind of a wet dream of any artist to be facing your critic. But actually I’m not very much like that, like, if people don’t like my films, they don’t like my films.
So, no strangling of any critics?
I would never strangle a critic. [Laughs] I wouldn’t even confront them. Maybe I would make a joke… The worst thing, I could make a joke.
There are a lot of funny political moments in this movie; at one point, Chris Rock chats with a carboard cut-out of Obama. Do you think people will take these moments more seriously because it’s an election year?
I am personally a big fan of Obama… A lot of people criticize him, even [among] the democrats, and I just feel it’s not right. Also, people don’t put themselves outside of the country — the view of the United States since Obama got elected is another world compared to when Bush was in power. You can’t compare. If Romney gets elected, you have no idea how bad the U.S. is going to look to the world… When Democrats actually trash him it makes me crazy because it’s like, What? You want Romney instead? I mean, like, Really? You want that? That’s scary… Having a president that’s an intelligent person, it’s so refreshing — who’s not in the hands, entirely, of a corporation, who’s not like a whore to the corporate world — I mean, it’s really important nowadays.
We’re at a tiping point in the environment, we’re at a tipping point in so many places, it’s time to have someone who has his head on his shoulders and is an intelligent person. And even if he can’t do everything [perfectly], please, give him a break. He inherited a country that was in a state of economy that was really bad; the economy problem didn’t come from him. It came from before and from global issues that we need to figure out some economical system that maybe works better…bin Laden is not in this world anymore. If Bush had killed bin Laden, it would have been advertised on the moon for the rest of the century. They would have put a banner on the moon.
I wanted to ask you about Vincent Gallo’s role in this film as a kind of soul-buying devil figure. How did that come about?
Actually, he’s a good friend of mine and I don’t think he’s the devil at all. To me, he’s kind of a saint, actually. But he has something [in] his persona that’s a bit Machiavellian. But also, he’s an art collector for real and he would actually buy a soul if it was an art piece. So, I wrote it for him; I gave it to him.
Was that at all a comment on your relationship to Hollywood — the selling of the soul and commercialization of art?
Yeah, I think, it’s more a comment [of] Marion saying you can sell anything nowadays; you can be famous for being famous [and] you can sell things that have no value. But what’s funny to me is that she sells her soul as a conceptual statement and then, five minutes later, she feels weird and she wants it back.
Where are you on the much-talked-about sequel to “Before Sunrise”/ “Before Sunset”?
Are you at all angry with Ethan Hawke for calling you crazy?
[Laughs] Well, he called me crazy but what’s sad is that people don’t understand what he means by crazy. I’m not a crazy person, honestly. I’ve directed four films in five years, maybe that’s crazy — and had a baby at the same time — but I’m far from crazy and Ethan didn’t mean it in a mean way…but it’s like you have to really watch what you’re saying about people. It’s like if I was saying he’s crazy, I don’t think he would like it. And if it ends up as the main title, “Oh, Julie Delpy says Ethan Hawke is crazy.” “Is he really crazy?” I mean, it’s like, not very nice. And especially because I’m a woman director and stuff. It’s so easy to put women in that idea that they’re crazy and I’m so not crazy… I mean, there’s no way I would have directed any film if I was crazy. I mean, crazy’s a dangerous word because what does that mean?
Do you have a title in mind for the next film?
“Before I’m Too Fat To Be Filmed.”