Julie Delpy Unleashes More Tongue Lashing In 2 Days In New York
Filmmaker and actress Julie Delpy won accolades at the Berlin International Film Festival back in 2007 with her hilarious 2 Days In Paris, in which she starred opposite Adam Goldberg as a couple who stop off in Paris for a short visit, staying with her parents en route back to the U.S. Delpy, who wrote and directed the feature that did solid numbers in release jiggered the formula for a sequel, 2 Days In New York, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January. This time, she stars opposite Chris Rock, and similarly to Paris her family factors into the dialog-heavy plot that's riddled with eccentricity, social commentary and crazy mishaps.
In the film, Delpy's character Marion is now living with her boyfriend Mingus (Chris Rock) in a New York apartment with their cat and two children from their previous relationships. Marion's father (played by her real-life dad, Albert Delpy), her sister and her over the top boyfriend suddenly decide to pay a visit from France, unleashing another 48 hours of family drama. Similarly to 2 Days In Paris, Marion's family is sometimes unnervingly open in their discussions about sexuality and other topics most would consider crosses social boundaries. The French-American cultural disconnect only amplifies the gulf and the result is laugh out loud funny.
Julie Delpy and Chris Rock chatted with ML about the film at Sundance. Initially Rock was about to leave, but sat down for a few minutes before heading out of Park City. Delpy, who first acted in none other than French-Swiss maestro Jean-Luc Godard's Détective in 1985 and has since gone on to do many roles including Before Sunset, has since taken on the director's hat herself and is a steadfast filmmaking convert. She talks about making films outside the studio system, though she said she'd like to try it sometime and would consider it another welcome challenge. In fact, she would like to try almost everything - almost...
Similarly to 2 Days In Paris, you pulled together financing through Europe, can a dialog-driven film exist within Hollywood or is this the only way to put together a film like your latest, 2 Days In New York?
Julie Delpy: I never even thought of going to a studio. It's just the way I do things. I put the financing together through a European financing system and it's not easy - it's a struggle. It might be easier in a way to go to a studio
Chris Rock: I think it depends on who you are as a filmmaker.
JD: I'm sure if it was through a studio, I wouldn't be able to do this film exactly the way it is. Though I'm not really sure because I've never really been approached by a studio. I'm not sure if they know who I am or know I'm a filmmaker. They don't even know I'm an actress - trust me [laughs].
CR: I think it depends on who you are as a filmmaker determines how much control you will have and, you know, if you want more control, you're better off not going through a studio, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
JD: Some things in this movie may not have been their whole thing. They may have wanted a different ending, though honestly, I don't know what they would want because I haven't worked with them. For me, I just do it in the way I know how.
How did you both come together for this project?
CR: I saw 2 Days in Paris and I Loo-oooved 2 Days in Paris.
JD: I'd seen his work and have always loved his work. I met him briefly once and he stuck in my mind. The minute I thought of doing a sequel to 2 Days in Paris, I knew I was going to be in a relationship with Mingus who is going to be Chris Rock, so he just came to my mind
How has this contrasted with your most recent work Chris?
CR: It's fun, but the French thing - you have to get used to the fact you don't understand what people around you are saying, but other than that it wasn't much different than any other movie. I found working with the star and director was easy because you're always talking to the boss. It's harder when you're talking to different people about different things. Because normally when you're doing a movie, the star is kind-of half-way the director anyway… If the star doesn't like what's happening, you're going to do what the star wants 90% of the time anyway. I hope I get to work with more star-directors…
I read that when you were writing this story, you said you wanted to build on "real ground," what did you mean by that?
JD: I spent a lot of time with [Krzysztof] Kieslowski after we did White (1994) talking about movies and writing and everything. He'd tell me that I'm such a movie buff and I was obsessed. He'd tell me, 'I haven't seen this, or I haven't seen that,' and I'd say, 'what have you seen?' and he'd tell me, 'real life.' And that stuck with me. What can be more true than take some truth and build something from that. Obsession with death for instance - so something like that - and build from there into a story.
2 Days in New York is grounded in reality. There's a couple with kids re-constructed and brought together…
[Chris Rock is pulled out of the room at this point and they say their good byes]
[Continuing]: I like to base my stories on simple things. It could have been a drama, but I love comedy so that's what I did. But for this, I like to incorporate things that I know. So in it, I talk about my mother's death. She actually passed away three years ago. She was in 2 Days in Paris and she was a wonderful actress. So she couldn't be in this film obviously, so I had to find a way to talk about it…
Your father is in this film as he was, of course, in 2 Days in Paris. Are his antics in the film similar to how he is in real-life?
Yeah he's very crazy. He's very funny and very light, but also a very profound person. He's not a superficial person at all. He's fun and he likes to laugh and loves life, but he also has profound problems. He's not happy all the time, but if we're at a festival and the film's playing well then we're all happy.
For me it was great to write parts for my parents in the first film and in this film for my father. It's wonderful to be able to do that. They gave me so much by exposing me to film. My father gave me directing education through his past direction of plays. They gave me so much, so I'm glad I could give back a little bit.
He keys a Hummer in this film in one memorable NYC street scene, and I was thinking it's his almost child-like rebellious way of perhaps lashing out about global warming…
Yeah exactly, that is a stand on global warming. Is he like that in real life? No, but my dad hates cars. They're all over the place in Paris and they park on sidewalks and have no respect. As he ever keyed a car? No, but he's joked about it for years so I let him have his fantasy in the film.
I mean, I hate cars too. I live in L.A. so of course I have a car, but it's the only real way we have for transport. But we're polluting every moment of the day and we'll pay for it. We'll be gone [some day]… But Earth will be ok, but it'll shake us out.
So what do you think about Sequels? What about a 2 Days in L.A. or 2 Days in Tokyo?
I think the franchise is going to stop there. I'm not a James Bond kind of girl. I think it stops here at 2 Days in New York. But I'd certainly like to direct more films and will if given the opportunity to do it…I have a lot of friends who are directors and they call me to ask if I'd like to be in them - people like Richard Linklater etc. or maybe not someone who's my friend but just someone I really like, but I think my first desire is filmmaking.
What other kinds of stories do you want to do?
Everything. Just everything from sci-fi to dramas - but maybe not sports movies. It's not that I don't like sports movies, but it's just that I don't get it. I don't really understand sports, but everything else I'd like to do. I'd like to do a thriller, though I don't know if I'd be good at it, but I'd like to try it. Maybe it's pretentious and I'm crazy and all that, but I think I will do a thriller one day.
It's such a struggle to make movies. With this movie, we stopped two weeks before we started shooting and the film fell apart and then we put it all back together and then four weeks into the shoot we stopped. It was really, really hard.
Was it harder than 2 Days in Paris?
In a way it was. There was more money involved with shooting in New York.
I thought Paris would be more expensive.
No, Paris is much less expensive. New York is… I think $3 million went into trucks, so I mean it's really expensive. I mean like basically it's very very expensive. And it's fine if you have the money, and we had the money, but when the money fell apart at the last minute, it was just drama. It was the most painful experience to think you're about to shoot and then everything just stops.
Would you consider going a different route when tackling some of the other stories and genres you're interested in doing down the line - maybe even the studios?
I think I would do it if given the opportunity. But I'm also interested in working within limitations. I have limitations with my films which is typically major financial limitations, but having a studio tell you what to do would be a limitation too, but it would be manageable.
I think the only thing that's not manageable is death. People dying or people who are sick is not manageable. Everything else is nothing. You know I consider in life, people in movies lose perspective because it becomes so important… I'm not like that. It's life, there are people dying around you, there's craziness - that's serious. A studio telling me what to do, that's manageable. That's just a boss telling you what to do and that's fine, I'll do my best within my limitation...
So if that opportunity came along, then you'd do it?
Yes, it's almost fun to me, it would be a fun thing to do.