2 Days in New York: Interview with Julie Delpy
In “2 Days in New York,” hip talk-radio host and journalist Mingus (Chris Rock) and his French photographer girlfriend, Marion (The film’s director Julie Delpy), live cozily in a New York apartment with their cat and two young children from previous relationships. But when Marion’s jolly father (played by Delpy’s real-life dad, Albert Delpy), her oversexed sister, and her sister’s outrageous boyfriend unceremoniously descend upon them for an overseas visit, it initiates two unforgettable days of family mayhem.
With their unabashed openness and sexual frankness, the triumvirate is bereft of boundaries or filters, and no one is left unscathed in its wake. The visitors push every button in the couple’s relationship, truly putting it to the test. How will the couple fare when the French come to New York? After shooting her 2009 dark thriller “The Countess,” writer/director/actress Delpy decided it was time for a comedy – a genre at which she had proven herself quite adept two years earlier, with “2 Days in Paris,” co-starring Adam Goldberg.
Delpy: I thought, “Okay, why not a sequel?” But I knew I couldn’t do a sequel with the same guy, because that would be too much like “Before Sunset” and “Before Sunrise” [directed by Richard Linklater]. Out of respect for those films, and for Richard and Ethan, I knew I couldn’t do that.
Delpy: Marion seems to go from relationship to relationship. She’s not after getting the ring and getting married – her issue is commitment, chemistry and figuring out her life. That’s the serious part… Marion herself is not very analytical. She’s a bit neurotic and unaware of what she’s doing. She acts before thinking about what she’s about to do. She’s much like me, if I wasn’t as analytical as I am – I think everything through 10 times before doing it.
Based on Experience
Delpy: I like to build on real ground – not necessarily drama, but on a reality. I’ll pick a subject matter that could be a drama. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a funny story. But then I turn it around with crazy situations and characters – that’s what makes it funny.
Delpy: I thought, “I want someone new as a boyfriend. Who is it?” And the first person that came to mind was Chris Rock…I just love his energy. Chris has a neurotic side, which I really like. He has an angst about him that I think is endearing and which I thought would make a really interesting dynamic in this relationship.
The Writing Process with Alexia Landeau and Alex Nahon
Delpy: I’ve known Alex since I was 19, and Alexia for about 14 years. I had the story in mind, but I wanted to write with someone. I’ve been writing alone for many, many years. I love writing, but when I write alone, I can get stuck in my head. It’s like I’m talking to myself. But when I write with someone, it becomes a game. You bounce ideas off each other. Of course, I always end up getting my ideas in!
Exploring the Flaws
Delpy: Prior to the family visiting, the relationship is working just fine. But then we have two days – a time limitation, which is interesting – where her family comes to visit, and it stirs up all kinds of things for her… I wanted to bring all that out, so that Mingus can see it and ask, “So is this the real you?”
Working with One’s Own Father
Delpy: I was raised by a big child. He’s a wild beast. I saw him onstage in the 70s doing the most insane things, in plays that were just crazy. I’ve seen him play women, junkies, everything… I know who he is, and I know what he’s capable of. And I know what to do to get him to go to a place where, you know…”There he goes.”
Chris Rock and Albert Delpy
Delpy: I don’t think [Rock] was truly prepared to have an interaction with someone like my dad! I could see it in Chris’s face – at times, he was, like, “Oh, my God – what’s gonna happen?” But it was all a lot of fun for everyone.
Delpy: Mingus isn’t dealing with those kind of French. He’s facing the Gaulois. All they thought about was food, having fun and sex. We all come from those very tough-skinned, eccentrics
Delpy: I love that stuff. I was brought up on all kinds of different comedies, but I love absurd comedy… I love this kind of mayhem – no one understands anything in a conversation that’s going nowhere, and the sisters are fighting over kids and autism and screwing ex-boyfriends. It’s [that] kind of absurd moment that just makes me laugh.
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