Culture clashes and Chris Rock: Julie Delpy talks 2 Days in New York
From the current issue of Clash.
Julie Delpy certainly has an eye for a cool film. After starring in world cinema classic Three Colours: White and Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, her first major directorial work was 2007’s 2 Days in Paris. She revisits that film’s central character Marion in 2 Days in New York, which sees her relationship with new partner Mingus (Chris Rock) tested by a visit from her French family. Born from age-old culture clash comedy, this already very funny sequel is heightened by hipster references (The Last Poets, Nan Goldin) and a firm move into the existential.
“I liked to take romantic comedies from the other way around; not the type where people meet and fall in love, but where people are already in a relationship,” begins Delpy. “It’s harder to make things work in everyday life than when you’ve just met somebody.”
This time around, Marion’s on screen partner is Chris Rock. “I love his stand-up, and I thought it was interesting to actually have a stand-up comedian as the straight man. I thought it was an interesting approach in a comedy – not just a straight man in a drama, that’s been done. He was the first and only person I thought of.” Her father Albert also contributes a major role, much to Delpy’s amusement. “It was a fantasy of mine to put my dad and Chris Rock in a scene together, and I got to do it!”
In addition to trying to placate her domestic life, Delpy’s character Marion is a struggling artist who resorts to an unusual stunt to boost her flagging career: to sell her soul to the highest bidder – one Vincent Gallo, who plays himself. “Vincent Gallo is more than an actor, he’s a whole persona,” states Delpy. “When he sells his sperm on the Internet, there’s a whole layer to that. He especially liked the idea of buying someone’s soul. He was like, ‘That’s a piece of art I would totally collect. If there’s one person in Manhattan who could buy this piece of art, it’s me.’”
And how much of Marion is based on the real Delpy? “The film is not my life, but a lot of people assume that,” she laughs. “For foreigners living in America and having to face American culture, it doesn’t seem to be so much of a challenge as first. In the long-term, you really see those little subtle differences.”