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'Before Midnight' Hits Berlin: Delpy, Hawke and Linklater Press Conference

Photo of Tom Christie By Tom Christie | Thompson on Hollywood February 11, 2013 at 1:52PM

"Before Midnight" isn’t just a chick flick, it’s a chick field-goal. About half way through the third Ethan Hawke-Julie Delpy love-hate-love fest, I found myself thinking two words: 'Shut up! Stop talking!! Shut the FUCK up!!!'

"Before Midnight"
"Before Midnight"
RL: Yeah, we spend a lot of time rejecting each others’ ideas. In a nice way.  You bring in something you want to get into the movie and...

EH: Well, that’s not terrible.

RL: And we might go, 'well, that’s interesting, but I don’t know if it’s that original.' And it goes away, you know? Something we think is funny, if the others don’t think it’s funny...we really trust one another and we’re kind of rigorous, I think, with each other. And no feelings are hurt; if it’s not working organically, it goes.

How much of your thoughts and personality are in these roles?

EH: One of the joys of working with Rick, is there’s a wonderful thing that can happen. You can really blur the line between character and player so that it’s almost indecipherable. Which an exercise in naturalism that goes beyond the normal... you know, Mike Leigh does some of’s a really unique privilege. I mean, obviously it’s not Ethan and Julie...there are aspects of my life that are relevant to this project and aspects that aren’t relevant... a large part of Jesse and Celine is Richard Linklater. There’s a fusion happening of all of these characters. If any one of us were missing, the whole thing couldn’t exist.

JD: I think it’s interesting to take a seed of truth, something that’s genuine and see what happens to it. Even 'Before Sunrise,' I watched it again and I was interested to see that things that were in my journals when I was 18 wound up in this film.  This little seed of truth and then it can grow this tree of truth, you know.

A big part of the audience feels that they’ve grown up with these characters?

EH: 'Before Sunrise" know that was the first movie that anyone ever asked me to talk. So I get kind of amazed as the movies go on,..which also makes it more unlikely that we’ll make a fourth, because the pressure becomes enormous.

JD: Yes, I was surprised when people told me they were excited to see this film.

How is it watching yourselves grow up over 18 years?

JD: I only see the different weight (someone yells, you look better now! JD pumps her muscles..) No, I mean, you know, the reality is that we all grow and grow and grow. The last will be 'Amour.' (laughs)

RL: We’re going to make a remake of that.  We’ll just skip the next 40 years and...

JD: ...And go straight to that. Yeah it’s a weird thing, sometimes it gives me a little pinch in my heart, this fear, and then when we start writing, it goes away.  Maybe when we reach the time when, you know, sickness, oh god I can’t think about it.  But you know, aging, you reach an age where you feel a little grounded...

Do you talk to each other like this?

JD: Fiction is fiction. As I said, we take a little element of truth, but the film is very written, I couldn’t come up with this kind of argument if I didn’t write it. I mean, it took us weeks and weeks of writing to come up with this. I wish I could argue like this!

This article is related to: Berlin International Film Festival, Before Midnight, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, Richard Linklater, Interviews, Interviews

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.