Julie Delpy is almost frighteningly talented. She writes, acts, directs, and composes music — and she does all four in 2 Days in Paris, one of my favorite films of the year so far. Delpy and Adam Goldberg play Marion and Jack, a lovably mismatched couple who spend a disastrous two days with Marion's family. The movie goes beyond culture-clash humor and settles in the much richer territory of romantic relationships, which is what Delpy and I talked about on her recent trip to San Francisco.
You’re really all over this story: you’re in it, you wrote it, you directed it. I’m wondering where it came from for you.
Well, I wanted to do a story about something that scares me the most, which is — apart from death or losing someone I love physically, outside of the big, really horrible stuff in life — breaking up with people. I just wanted to approach it in a comedic way, because all my life, breaking up has been horribly painful — or being dumped, even more painful. But breaking up with someone is very painful too. It's almost impossible for me. I get too attached to people, I can't hurt people. I’ve done it a few times. I did it very badly too, because I don't know how to manage, so I disappear, like I could be dead, I’m so bad at it. And when I feel that someone doesn’t love me anymore and I can see that in their eyes, it's heartbreaking.
I went in thinking "Oh, it's going to be one of those culture clash things." But it's so much more about their relationship.
I mean, the culture difference stuff is fun, but it's mostly about conflict within a relationship and how to make a relationship work. Especially with two neurotic people. Psychotic and neurotic.
They’re so imperfect together, and then that’s kind of perfect.
Yeah, yeah, I know! Adam was always worried that my character was so unlikable. He kept telling me all the time, "She’s so horrible, your character" and "my character, I don’t want to make him unlikable." And to me it was much more exiting to make unlikable characters likable. He’s always grumpy, and he’s kind of an unbearable guy, but at the same time, with all the shit that happens to him, you start to really feel for him. She’s unbearable — I mean, she snaps at people, she's flirtatious, she’s like the worst nightmare — but at the same time, she snaps at racists, at pedophiles, you know and she's in a way protecting him. So to me it was a lot of fun to take these characters that are so anti-heroes and make them into almost likable people, or at least people you follow and embrace until the end of the film.
More from Julie, so read more