'Uncut Gems' Breakout Julia Fox Worked as a High School Dominatrix

Photographed by Austin Hargrave
Julia Fox was photographed Sept. 8 at the Four Seasons Toronto. Says director Josh Safdie of her work in 'Uncut Gems': "When you think you know her, you see another facet."

The high school dominatrix turned downtown NYC scene-maker delivers a riveting acting debut in 'Uncut Gems.'

Julia Fox worked as a dominatrix in high school in New York, has staged an art show with paintings using her own blood, and directed a short film about sex trafficking in Nevada. Fox, 29, has now made her acting debut in Josh and Benny Safdie's Uncut Gems, playing a feisty jewelry saleswoman who's sleeping with her gambling addict boss (Adam Sandler). "She's incredible and very instinctive," says Sandler. "I never knew what the heck would happen." The role has landed her representation at WME and a breakout actress nomination at the Gotham Awards.

What was your first job?

JULIA FOX I worked at a shoe store on 86th Street called Orva, in the hosiery department because nobody went there. That's where they put me because I was too incapable of doing anything. Then I worked in an ice cream shop and a pastry shop. Then I got into the sex industry, doing S&M stuff.

How does one do that in high school?

I heard about another girl who was doing it and that there was no sex or nudity. It was role-playing.

How did you meet the Safdies?

I met Josh at this restaurant Jack's Wife Freda. I was walking by and he was sitting outside with producer Sebastian Bear-McClard. Josh called me one day five years ago and was like, "I really want you in this movie." He would send me a new script or consult with me on the character, whose name was originally Sadie, but because Adam Sandler's daughter's name is Sadie, we had to change it.

But you had to fight for the role?

The studios wanted a big-name actress. Josh was able to secure a screen test for me with Adam — at Barneys [department store] and at a karaoke bar.

What was your favorite moment on the Uncut Gems set?

Filming that fight outside the club. It was just me and [Sandler] on the street, and people were stopping, like, is this real or are these people acting? It was like any old New York night with a couple fighting outside a club.

Where do you want to go next?

I really want to do everything. I want to create a TV show, I want to direct, I want to produce.

How was Sandler on set?

He was just always building my confidence. I don't think he'd ever worked with a non-actress.

Interview edited for length and clarity.

This story first appeared in the Dec. 19 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.