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Sundance 2012 Preview: Julie Delpy on '2 Days in New York' and Funny Intellectuals (Q&A)

The Oscar-nominated writer/actor Julie Delpy comes back to Sundance as a director.

2 Days in New York

Julie Delpy, who learned a lesson or two as an actress for Agnieszka Holland and Jean-Luc Godard, got an Oscar nomination for cowriting Richard Linklater’s Before Sunset, which she costarred in. Now she’s a director, and also the cowriter and Chris Rock’s costar in 2 Days in New York, a sequel to 2007’s 2 Days in Paris. It premieres at 6:30 pm on Jan. 23 at the Eccles Theater, where it also screens on Jan. 28 (and at Peery's Egyptian in Ogden Jan. 25 at 6:30 pm and Salt Lake City's Tower Theater Jan. 28 at 9 pm). Delpy tells The Hollywood Reporter about her new film and her return to Sundance.

The Hollywood Reporter: Movies this year are a cultural exchange program. Woody Allen goes to Paris and you come to New York.

DELPY: So, we have a lot in common, Woody and I? My favorite film of his is actually Bananas, which is the most goofy. And I love Husbands and Wives, too.

THR: Your movies are like a combination of Bananas and Husbands and Wives. How does this sequel compare to 2 Days in Paris, which is also about your French character Marion’s turbulent love life?

DELPY: It’s a sequel and it’s not. If you haven’t seen the first film, it doesn’t really matter, because the film is about a relationship and a woman that has a past relationship.

THR: A past relationship? Many past relationships! As Dorothy Parker would say, she’s the good time had by all.

DELPY: Yeah, exactly. I mean, the character is not a prude, she’s not a virgin, obviously. The film is about this relationship at that moment. That’s why it’s set in a very short period of time. I always like to capture moments in a relationship.

THR: Is it real time like Before Sunset?

DELPY: No, it is set over two days. It’s a little more than 48 hours, actually, I lied, maybe it was 3 days in New York. It’s about cultural differences, that’s the funny part, but it’s also about relationships, that’s also a funny part, and it’s also about how we live in this world and what’s our purpose. It’s not like the kind of film where this person falls from a tree and breaks her leg and a boyfriend kills the husband. It’s about moments of comedy, funny little moments, character, arguments. I love uncomfortable moments, where people are really embarrassed. Being at the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people.

THR: Do you have a kinship with Ricky Gervais’s comedy of discomfort?

DELPY: I love Ricky Gervais. I love The Office. I love Curb Your Enthusiasm. I love comedies by Scorsese, The King of Comedy to After Hours, because the characters are more psychotic than neurotic. I think that Goodfellas is a comedy, hilarious from beginning to end. Crazy people are funny. Psychotic people make me laugh even more than neurotic people. When you’re not living with them, obviously. In a movie.

THR: What was your first Sundance experience?

DELPY: Before Sunrise was premiering there like 1995.

THR: The streets weren’t so crowded then.

DELPY: It was pretty mellow 15 years ago.  I told my friends, “Oh, I don’t really need to dress up, I don’t need make-up.” They’re like, “No, no, you don’t understand. It’s not Sundance like 20 years ago.” It’s like a whole new world there. I’m very excited to show the film there.

THR: What kind of a springboard is Sundance for you?

DELPY: For a filmmaker, it has a lot of cachet. Also, because everyone goes there, it’s basically Hollywood in snow boots and snow jackets, but condensed in, like, one street. A lot of buyers are going to be there. The film doesn’t have U.S. distribution yet and it’s finding the best possible person to release this film, the best company that will nurture the film and make sure the film has maximum exposure. Since everybody’s there, they all see it at the same time.

THR: You did a film or two that were well received, but didn’t get U.S. distribution.

DELPY: There’s one that is about to, The Skylab, won the Jury Prize at San Sebastian and I think it’s going to be bought here, too. The only film that didn’t get [theatrically] released, but it actually came out in video, is The Countess. It’s IFC Films.

THR: What will you do besides screen and sell films at Sundance?

DELPY: The first day I’m going to go downhill with my son on a sleigh. The second day, I’m going to play in the snow with my dad.

THR: Critic Carrie Rickey said you have the beauty of Deneuve and the slapstick comedy talent of Diane Keaton.

DELPY: Wow! That’s very nice!

THR: But I think people are more aware of you as the intellectual beauty who has been in those impressive director’s films, and in Sunset and Sunrise. Do people know intellectuals can be funny?

DELPY: The real intellectuals, I think, have a great sense of humor. Kieslowski, believe it or not, was extremely funny. And Godard is extremely funny. And Laterna Magica by Ingmar Bergman, it’s extremely funny.  Maybe I have a weird sense of humor, like I watch The Shining and I'm laughing from beginning to end because I think the film is hilarious. It's actually easier as a craft to tell a dramatic story with intense moments and people crying and screaming, and people killing each other, than it is to bring comedy into a simple scene.