LUCKILY, Julie Delpy has a great sense of humour and a determination to win. If not, says the Frenchwoman, “I would have been dead 20 times already, just by what I went through”.
By “dead”, Delpy means her movie career would have been over.
And by “what I went through” she’s referring to the “non- stop” bulldust she’s had to put up with as a woman trying to write and direct films.
“If I told you, it would be too much,” the 43- year- old says.
“So it’s better not to tell. The things I’ve heard, the things that were said to me – unbelievable. If you put it in a movie, people would say it was over the top.”
The star of the Three Colours trilogy and writer- director of relationship comedies 2 Days in Paris and 2 Days in New York may think it wise to keep her stories to herself, but over the course of a chat, a few tumble out.
Like the time, early in her career, when she was called “crazy” by a man in the industry “because I refused to have sex with him, basically”.
Or like the time, as a 20- year- old, she showed her writing to playwright Sam Shepard while they were shooting a film together.
“I read one line of dialogue to Sam and he said to me, I always remember: ‘ Please sweetie, you’re very pretty, never, ever write. Women should not be writing.’
“I was like, ‘ What a pr---’,” Delpy recalls, breaking into laughter.
But for every Sam Shepard there have been far more supportive co- workers, such as those she fell in with a few years later on a film called Before Sunrise.
The 1995 romance saw Delpy star as Celine, a young French student who meets American tourist Jesse ( Ethan Hawke) on a train.
Jesse convinces Celine to get off the train with him in Vienna and they walk and talk the whole night through.
So fruitful was Delpy’s collaboration with Hawke and writer- director Richard Linklater that they have since reunited to bring Celine and Jesse back to life twice: in 2004’ s Before Sunset and now in Before Midnight.
In the third instalment, Celine and Jesse bicker ( marvellously) like an old married couple as the struggles of maintaining long- term love encroach on their holiday in Greece.
But perhaps more importantly, Sunrise catapulted Delpy, who had been writing stories since she was nine and had studied to be a director in her early 20s, into finally getting her own projects off the ground.
“Richard wanted two young actors who were also going to be part of the screenplay process,” Delpy explains.
But, due to legal issues, she and Hawke were not credited as writers on the first film.
On the up side, “I was happy that my writing was exposed without me being exposed,” Delpy says.
Now, mother- of- one Delpy is inspired to do something big or, more to the point, something out of the ordinary.
After all, as a nine- year- old she was writing sci- fi and horror stories, not the “characterdriven comedies” for which she has become known.
She has a period- piece adventure in the works and is also looking into doing a campy thriller.
“I don’t love to do what’s expected of me,” Delpy says.
BEFORE MIDNIGHT Now showing State Cinema