Contrary to reports published elsewhere, Julie Delpy does not have a heavy French accent. The easygoing 37-year-old actress, screenwriter, and director, whose 2 Days in Paris opens in D.C. today, began learning English as a child, and has spent much of her adult years in Los Angeles.
I hate a lot of things about Los Angeles. I hate driving. But the weather is nice. There are a lot of trees. I can lock myself in my little house and write. My cat can go after mice. When you live part of your life in Paris, which is a very intense city, Los Angeles is a good alternative. It’s kind of like being on holiday.
2 Days in Paris is an anti-romantic comedy, set in the city that’s also the location for Before Sunset, which you co-wrote. Why return to Paris?
It could have been other places. I liked that it was in Paris, because I know it so well, and I know how grumpy people can be. How mean the city can be at times. Sometimes I come back, and it’s like a nightmare. People are rude, they’re mean; I want to cry. Sometimes it’s a wonderful city. It really depends.
When I show Marion arguing with the racist taxi driver, that’s happened to me. Not exactly as intense. Maybe I’m not as aggressive as Marion. I’m a little more scared. I’m an actress. If a guy punches me on the face, I’ll never work again. But it’s based on true things that I’ve experienced.
Does the character of Jack, Marion’s germ- and mold-phobic boyfriend, represent your idea of Americans, or a general French view?
I based him on a few people I know. A patchwork of different men I’ve dated, or even friends. Not necessarily American. Sometimes he blames being jealous on American ideas of private property. But I can tell you, every man is a little bit jealous. He blames the American side, but it’s the male side he should be blaming.
The mold thing is actually from a friend who is not American. But I know many Americans who are obsessed; they have the little hand-cleaning stuff. In Los Angeles, a lot of people are like that; they have perfectly clean everything. I’m the opposite. I kiss my cat, who just ate a rat. It’s a miracle I don’t have bubonic plague. Some people are horrified when they come to my house. My cat eats a lot of rats, so there are, like, tails left in different corners of the house. My house is a nightmare for anal people.
Marion’s cat is named Jean-Luc. Is that your cat’s name?
No one names their pet a name like that! People are named Jean-Luc, but not a cat. I don’t think there’s any cat in France named Jean-Luc. He’s the first cat named Jean-Luc!
Was the name a reference to Jean-Luc Godard, who directed you in King Lear and Detective?
Yes. I thought it was funny. They’re this New York couple that goes to see Godard films. She happened to name her cat after a director. I just think it’s funny. Maybe it’s mean to Jean-Luc Godard, but I don’t think so. It’s great to be a cat!