After touring the festival circuit, with stops in Berlin and Tribeca, Julie Delpy's new film, 2 Days in Paris, recently opened domestically to very good critical reception -- it's currently sporting an 87% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. If you haven't seen it, it's a romantic comedy about a native Parisian played, of course, by Delpy, who brings her American boyfriend home to Paris for a visit. The boyfriend is played by journeyman actor, writer and director Adam Goldberg, who most of you probably remember most for his large role in Saving Private Ryan. In the years since then, he's appeared in movies such as Deja Vu, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, and David Fincher's Zodiac, while also writing and directing a film called I Love Your Work. Cinematical recently spoke with Adam about the experience of making 2 Days in Paris, a film that's in some ways, semi-autobiographical -- he and Delpy were formerly in a relationship, and the film draws heavily from their time together.
CINEMATICAL: I was on your character's side in this film -- as a cultural outsider, it falls to Julie's character to make your character feel as comfortable as possible when he's not on his home turf.
AG: I totally agree. Even if it's not necessarily about it being a cultural difference, just the idea of, when you're on somebody's home turf, if you're gonna meet their family, obviously, then you have to make the outsider, the alien, feel as comfortable as possible. She kind of affects this sort of oblivious attitude, which I think is sort of part of her way of kind of goading him and getting attention. He's got his own ways of goading her and getting her attention, and so I think it's something that they both sort of kind of do to each other, you know, a little bit? Which tends to happen sometimes in relationships, you know, a few years down the line.
RS: Do you think those characters have the makings of a successful relationship?
AG: For entertainment value purposes. I mean, that was sort of one of the things we would talk about -- this idea of almost kind of keeping themselves amused by, maybe sort of battling wits, maybe kind of in an effort to not really deal with the more serious underlying issues of the relationship. So I think there's potential for success, but basically they're both emotionally a bit underdeveloped. [Dogs barking] Hold on one sec ... I think they both need to be in therapy. There's no mention of therapy, you know. But certainly, if they keep going the way that they're going, they're going to start aging in dog years.
CINEMATICAL: On a scale 1 to 10, how autobiographical is this film?
AG: I couldn't put a number on it, but I think that the dynamic between us is similar -- the sensibilities, the humor, the sort of over-intellectualizing, the observational aspects of my character, taking pictures and that sort of thing, but the events themselves are not at all ... aside from, like, a couple of things here and there. I know that I had mentioned that there were some funny incidents that had happened in the past that I thought would sort of make sense to throw in there, but for the most part I couldn't really speak on how much of it ... the jealousy thing is an issue in her life. I've definitely experienced that kind of possessiveness, but I try at least to do an imitation of a mature person.
CINEMATICAL: Did she have a finished script when you signed on or was it a work in progress?
AG: Well, no, there was no script when we first started talking about it, it was just this basic premise about the two of us going there and meeting her parents. Jealousy, ex-boyfriends, language barrier, that sort of thing. And then what sort of started out as a co-writing or co-improvisational venture that was going to be shot over only a few days sort of ended up morphing into a more sort of movie-movie, that became increasingly through the point-of-view of the woman. And then I kind of stepped back from the process. We would talk and then she would go write, and talk, and then she would go write. On the actual set there was some improvisation, and I was putting things in my own language, kind of.
CINEMATICAL: Did you ever worry that people might compare or contrast your character to the Ethan Hawke character in Sunrise/Sunset, which has become so well-known?
AG: I was never concerned that my performance would be compared to his or that my portrayal or character would be, because they have so little to do with each other. I know that we were both concerned about comparisons to Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, but we knew it was a different movie, but we were more concerned that the sort of outside observer might make comparisons without having seen it. I think once people see it, for the most part it seems that they realize that it's sort of the underbelly of that movie.
CINEMATICAL: What do you think her strengths and weaknesses are as a director?
AG: [Laughs] I'm not gonna talk about her weaknesses as a director.
CINEMATICAL: Oh, come on.
AG: When I used to know Julie and spend a lot of time with her, we often talked about the movies that each of us wanted to make and there were scripts of hers that I liked an awful lot and I was always surprised that it wasn't something she was doing already. It seems like a real kind of natural thing for her to be doing. It seems sort of inevitable, you know?
CINEMATICAL: Yeah. I interviewed her a while back, and she was talking about how she sort of had to make this movie in order to break through that Sunrise/Sunset perception, the French ingenue thing. Did you ever sort of feel like this wasn't really the movie she was hoping to make?
AG: I knew firsthand that there were these other scripts that she had around. I knew that those were movies she wanted to make, and it kind of seemed to me that this was sort of a fast and -- not so much easy way to make a movie, but often times for your first film, it is a more acceptable thing to do, to do something that's lighter and doesn't cost so much money and that sort of thing. So I always knew that that was certainly part of the reason, and I was frankly happy about the idea that ... I always that it was very ironic, because the Julie that you see in the Before Sunrise/Before Sunset movies are actually, I think, really different. I mean, they're a certain part of her, but I was definitely interested in seeing her play something that was a little more like a real person, you know, fully-dimensional kind of person with a lot of flaws and that sort of thing. Occasionally I would say 'you remember when, blah blah blah' and we'd throw that in there. I think it really shows what she's capable of doing in a more sort of 360 degrees sort of way.
CINEMATICAL: Did you have time to explore Paris and let it sink in, or are you so well-traveled at this point that you don't really care?
AG: I did have time to do it, because there's nothing but bank holidays there, apparently, but it's weird ... I'm not a great traveler, particularly if I don't speak the language. I'm not one of those people who likes to just explore. I also felt self-conscious about being an 'ugly American.' So I essentially stayed in my hotel room during my days off and played music ... I'd been there a couple of times, but only for really short stints, so it was sort of preserved in this kind of totally idyllic, romanticized way. And once I was there for an extended period of time, I was like 'Eh, well, I'm still here.' As long as I'm there, it's not as though I'm escaping the trappings of my own issues.
CINEMATICAL: Julie told me something about how she had planned a lot of set-ups that didn't come off because the locales weren't available. You guys were going to shoot something in the catacombs and then had to re-work it for the scene to take place out in the street?
AG: Nah, not exactly. I mean, there's a line where we're walking down the street, at the beginning of the scene, after we go visit Jim Morrison's grave scene, and we say 'Too bad the catacombs were closed.' I think that was the extent of us having to ... I think we just added a line to the existing scene. It wasn't too dramatic.
CINEMATICAL: So what else are you working on these days?
AG: There's a couple of films, scripts that I really like, a couple that are financed, a couple that aren't, that I'm working to cast and get made and be in. And I'm also working on my own stuff, with some writing.
CINEMATICAL: What's in the foreground?
AG: The next thing I'll appear in probably is the movie I believe your website suggested I'd be a 'token Jew' in, but in fact I'm not Jewish at all, this movie From Within.