movies: Julie Delpy’s postcard to New York, ..........................
Julie Delpy returns, this time to show French people in New York, writes
ULIE Delpy, Richard Linklater and Ethan Hawke shared a Best Original Screenplay Oscar nomination for 2005’s Before Sunset, about a chance meeting that unexpectedly links two lives.
At a nominees’ lunch in Los Angeles, Delpy met Chris Rock, who was hosting that year’s ceremonies. Life echoed art as their fleeting conversation sparked a long-running friendship. Now they’re co-stars in Delpy’s daffy, endearing rom-com 2 Days in New York.
Born in Paris to performer parents Albert Delpy and Marie Pillet in 1969, she became a star at 14 when Jean-Luc Godard cast her in his Detective.
She moved to New York as a teenager, attending NYU and studying at the Actors Studio.
Choosing roles with renowned directors such as Bertrand Tavernier, Agniezska Holland and Krzysztof Kieslowski, Delpy, who has lived mostly in the US for the past 15 years, became one of the most popular French actresses of her generation.
Although she’s also a screenwriter, director and film editor, Delpy is best known to US audiences as the star of 1995’s Before Sunrise and its sequel, Before Sunset.
In her new film, Delpy plays Marion, a quirky neurotic introduced five years ago in her comedy 2 Days in Paris. In that film, she and boyfriend Jack (Adam Goldberg) tried to reignite their romance with a quick trip to see her bohemian parents, where every cliche about French rudeness proves true.
The new film picks up several years later, with Marion and radio host Mingus (Rock) sharing a twobedroom Manhattan apartment, raising the little boy she had with Jack and Mingus’s young daughter. The balancing act is thrown for a loop when Marion’s father, sister and lover drop in for a visit.
‘‘I thought it would be fun to do the reverse shot, you know, showing French people in New York. Also as we get older, have kids and lose our parents, life is tough,’’ Delpy, 42, says.
Delpy’s parents played Marion’s mother and father in Paris. Her mother died in 2009, and Marion’s new status as a half-orphan is much on her mind in New York. Delpy wanted to portray those ideas in a comedy. ‘‘Better laugh than cry,’’ she says. ‘‘The film’s an homage to her, but I wanted to keep it light because she’s a very happy person.’’
She also wanted to resist the stereotype of ‘‘the French being very classy people wearing Chanel’’.
Her dad arrives wearing a tacky US-flag necktie and smuggled sausages taped to his chest, her sister is an exhibitionist, and her boyfriend – one of Marion’s myriad of ex-lovers – tries to bond with Mingus by singing the praises of ’80s rappers Salt-n-Pepa.
‘‘It’s exaggerated, it’s a comedy, but it’s not far from the truth. The critics who take offence at that are American. When the French see this they say, ‘Oh my god, that is so my family’.’’
Her wild-eyed, large-bearded father is ‘‘a depraved Santa Claus’’, she says, and a delight to direct on film.
‘‘He was an actor before I was born, I’ve seen his work in theatre all my life, and it’s great to give him a fun part to do onscreen,’’ Delpy says.
‘‘Obviously it’s not always easy ’cause I’m his daughter and I’m giving him directions. He’s not always agreeing with me, but in the end I’m the boss.’’
Because of the casting, some viewers mistakenly assume that Delpy’s 2 Days films are autobiographical. Not the case, she says. ‘‘I’ve got well-constructed relationships. I met a guy, had a baby, and I’m with him.’’
She lives in Los Angeles with Marc Streitenfeld, a prolific film-music editor, and their son, Leo, 3.
Delpy says she and Rock talked about making the new film over a period of years and while his screen acting is not at the level of his supremely accomplished stand-up comedy, she says he is her ideal co-star.
‘‘I like him and I wanted someone who wasn’t the obvious first choice for the boyfriend in an indie movie. It’s an unusual choice, picking someone from the comedy world who’s such a persona, but that’s what I like about it. I like breaking rules.
‘‘It doesn’t matter anyway. Talent is talent.’’
Above: Chris Rock (Mingus) and Julie Delpy (Marion) in
and (left), Delpy’s dad, Albert, as Marion’s dad, Jeannot.