Julie Delpy dishes on sustaining the ‘Before’ indie franchise

Julie Delpy revisits her "Before Sunrise" role in the new "Before Midnight." Credit: Getty Images
Julie Delpy revisits her “Before Sunrise” role in the new “Before Midnight.”
Credit: Getty Images

Julie Delpy has developed quite the professional relationship with co-star Ethan Hawke and director Richard Linklater. Every nine years they re-team for another look into the lives of Celine and Jesse, the lovers we met 18 years ago on a train to Vienna in “Before Sunrise” and saw again in Paris in 2004′s “Before Sunset.” The latest, “Before Midnight,” finds them married with twin daughters finishing up a summer in Greece — and debating where their relationship is headed. Delpy helped clue us in to some of the secrets of their quiet franchise.

There’s no one side for the audience to root for:
“Here there’s no bad guy in particular, but they still have to make compromises — and what compromise might jeopardize their relationship, their love?” says Delpy. “It’s all about finding the right road. When you have a long-term relationship, you have to make choices. Actually their relationship started with a choice that Jesse made, which was to follow his heart, but that comes with consequences, and the film starts with the consequence of that choice. We find them in a situation where they have to make a choice again, and it might jeopardize their entire life. That’s the life of a relationship.”

It’s not a chick flick:
“It’s very important that it’s balanced female and male, that it’s not a macho movie or a feminist movie with a meaning or anything — that it’s very, very balanced in that sense,” explains Delpy, who also co-wrote the script with Linklater and Hawke. “And that’s our goal, actually, to make sure when we write this that it’s neither macho or feminist. She doesn’t hate men.”

The emotional scenes are just more fun:
“It’s pleasurable for an actor, believe it or not, to cry, to suffer. It’s a pleasant thing,” she admits. “That’s what we train for. When you see someone on camera crying or being hurt, they’re actually enjoying it. [laughs] But actually what’s most painful is the simple things. That’s the hardest thing to find as an actor. I mean, obviously it is draining as an actor to do scenes where you’re emotional and stuff, but there’s a certain pleasure to it. I can’t explain it. Or maybe I’m weird, I don’t know.”

She knows everything they’ve been doing between movies:
“We have to think about their backstory every time we start to write one line on the screenplay,” Delpy says. “You can’t start writing without knowing everything about what happened in between. I wouldn’t say Celine lives with me 24/7, otherwise I’d be crazy — like there’s a bunch of people in my head. [laughs] Truly we let go of them, but then when we get back to working on those films, it’s a tremendous amount of homework figuring out what happened during those nine years. But we have the luxury of time.”

Now, how about the next movie?
As for where Celine and Jesse will be in nine years, “I don’t know yet,” Delpy says. “I have no clue. We actually don’t think about the future, that’s how we operate on these films. We don’t want to think about the fourth. We might not even do a fourth, this could be it. We made three, that’s a lot already.”


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