Julie Delpy Takes Charge of Her Own Feminist Narrative

Happy Birthday, Julie Delpy! Today is the perfect day to celebrate this iconic French-American actor and director. 

Julie began her career as an actor when – at only fourteen – acclaimed French director Jean-Luc Godard cast her in his film Détective (1985). She was then cast as Béatrice in Bertrand Tavernier’s La Passion Béatrice (1987), a role which earned her a nomination for a César award for Most Promising Actress. Julie used the money she earned from La Passion Béatrice to go to New York City. 

Once in America, Julie’s career took off with a starring role in the critically acclaimed film Europa Europa (1990), in which she played a young woman in Nazi Germany who falls in love with a secretly Jewish man. Over the next few years, Julie appeared in several Hollywood films, including The Three Musketeers (1993), and Before Sunrise (1995).

After Before Sunrise (1995), Julie collaborated on two sequels – Before Sunset (2004) and Before Midnight (2015).

The character of Celine in Before Sunrise – the role which finally gained her wide notoriety – became so popular that she then collaborated with director Richard Linklater and co-star Ethan Hawk on two sequels – Before Sunset (2004) and Before Midnight (2015). She not only contributed to both films, she actually wrote most of her own dialogue for her role as Celine. Just Desserts: Julie – along with Richard Linklater and Ethan Hawk – received Academy Award nominations in the Best Adapted Screenplay category for both films!

After Before Sunset, Julie wrote, directed, and produced her first feature film – Looking for Jimmy (2002) – about a girl who ventures across LA to find her missing boyfriend. Of Looking for Jimmy, FF2 contributor Katusha Jin says: “It is a film that captures the essence of Los Angeles and its misfits, and does so in a less calculated and freer form of filming.”

Next came what is perhaps Julie’s biggest accomplishment to date: 2 Days in Paris (2007), a film that she wrote, directed, starred in, and even co-produced the score for. 2 Days in Paris is about a couple – American Jack and French-born Marion – attempting to repair their relationship with a trip to Paris (though it proves to be more difficult than they think). In a review of 2 Days in Paris, FF2 Media Editor-in-Chief Jan Lisa Huttner says: “I laughed myself silly watching Paris, but then, once Delpy had me in the palm of her hand, she and Goldberg took me someplace quite unexpected, and the ending absolutely broke my heart.”

2 Days in Paris saw Julie writing her own character again, after doing the same in Before Sunset and Before Midnight. This allowed Julie to take charge of how her character was portrayed, especially as a woman. In an FF2 interview with our Jan, Julie discussed her intentions for each character: “Through Celine [from Before Sunset] I wanted to show a modern woman that’s conscious about the world around her. Celine is very modern in the sense that she’s in the environmental world. She’s trying to better the world. […] But Marion is modern in a sense that she’s very much the next generation in feminism.” 

Now an established filmmaker behind the camera as well as in front of it, Julie took Marion – her 2 Days in Paris character – across the ocean to spend 2 Days in New York (2012) with Chris Rock. Then she did Lolo (2015), a comedy about a workaholic and mom who introduces her new love interest to her difficult and dramatic teenage son. In a review of Lolo, Jan Lisa Huttner says: “Delpy has created another perfect role for herself as a dog being wagged by its own tail. She is adorable in her befuddlement as the stakes get ever higher. And Dany Boon as ‘Jean-René’ and Vincent Lacoste as ‘Lolo’ make great comic partners.” 

It’s not often that actors get to take charge of their own characters in the way that Julie has. Her fierce talent as a writer and director – as well as her unflinching feminism – have made Julie and her characters forces to be reckoned with in the film world. Brava, Julie!

© Julia Lasker (12/21/2022) FF2 Media


Read Katusha Jin’s tribute to Julie Delpy here.

Read Jan Lisa Huttner’s interview with Julie Delpy here.

Read Jan’s assessment of The Before Trilogy here.

Read Jan’s review of 2 Days in Paris here.

Read Jan’s review of Lolo here.


Featured photo: “135063_0923” by Walt Disney Television is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Middle photo: Julie Delpy as “Marion” and Adam Goldberg as “Jack.” Credit to Catherine Faux.

Bottom photo: Violette in Paris hoping for the best as she introduces her son “Lolo” (Vincent Lacoste) to her new lover “Jean-René” (Dany Boon) © 2016 – FilmRise.

Tags: 2 Days in New York, 2 Days in Paris, Before Midnight, Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Europa Europa, French Filmmakers, Julie Delpy, Lolo, Looking for Jimmy, new york, Paris, The Three Musketeers

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As an associate for FF2 Media, Julia writes reviews and features for films made by women. She is currently a senior at Barnard College studying Psychology. Outside of FF2, her interests include acting, creative writing, thrift shopping, crafting, and making and eating baked goods. Julia has been at FF2 for almost 4 years, and loves the company and its mission dearly.
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