Nominee Profile: Julie Delpy (Before Midnight)
We all feel like we know Julie Delpy well, or at least her alter ego, Celine, the slightly neurotic, beautiful, whip smart woman who fell in love with Jesse (Ethan Hawke) on a train from Budapest in Before Sunrise in 1995, reignited their flame in Paris in Before Sunset (2004) and continued their bumpy happy ending together nine years later in Before Midnight for which Delpy has received her first Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical.
“This has really felt like a life project,” said Delpy, who also co wrote the script with Hawke and director Richard Linklater. “It’s exciting to revisit these characters and go deeper. We are getting older and they are getting older and it’s been great to keep exploring these characters.”
Delpy’s and Hawke’s hyper-verbal portrayal is so natural and real that audiences have believed it is the actors’s own story. “People ask me all the time. Is it autobiographical, am I really with Ethan? Delpy laughed. “No it’s not autobiographical but I think we find the truth within ourselves, and I think the emotions are true.”
In Before Midnight Jesse and Celine are now a couple with young twin girls, holidaying with friends in Greece in the southern Peloponnesus. “In the first film the decisions are very simple - getting off a train, but now they have decided to be together. Their relationship is shaped by chance and then it gets more and more complex and that’s life,” said Delpy. “My view as a working mother are not those of Celine’s but I relate because I do have a child. The role is fed by our lives in so many ways.”
With long takes of dialogue, up to seven minutes as they walk and talk, director Richard Linklater described the performances “like a high wire act with no net.” “This requires a lot of rehearsal, everything totally planned out so we can drop the viewer into their reality,” said Linklater. “You want audiences to feel that they are really just hanging out with these people.”
While moviegoers maybe most familiar with her Before trilogy, the accomplished Paris born actress, writer, director and musician, who became a US citizen in 2001 and makes her home in Los Angeles, was exposed to the arts from an early age. Her father is Albert Delpy a renowned theater director and her mother, Marie Pillet, a respected actress in feature films and avant -garde theater. Delpy was first discovered at the age of fourteen by film director Jean-Luc Godard, who cast her in Détective (1985). Since then Delpy starred in many American and European productions, including Europa Europa (1990), Disney's The Three Musketeers (1993) Killing Zoe (1993), and Three Colors: White (1994), the second film of Krzysztof Kieślowski’s The Three Colors Trilogy.
She made her feature length directorial debut in 2002; with the film Looking for Jimmy which she also wrote and produced. In 2007, Delpy directed, wrote, edited, and co-produced the original score for 2 Days in Paris co-starring Adam Goldberg. The film also featured Delpy's real-life parents, as her character's parents. In 2012 she wrote and starred in the film’s sequel 2 Days in New York.
Will Before Midnight be the end of our joyous cinema journey with Jesse and Celine? Only time will tell says director Richard Linklater. “Who knows the future? I wouldn’t be surprised, but you never know,” he teased.
“For two decades I’ve been fortunate enough to help create Celine and her love story with Jesse,” said Delpy. “It’s been a beautiful journey as a writer and especially as an actress. I’ve tried to create a female character who is fragile, strong, imperfect funny and real and to have this character have connect with audiences and generations around the world has made this so special.”