Julie Delpy • Director of My Zoe
“We are on the cusp of big issues that we haven't addressed emotionally”
by Kaleem Aftab
- Cineuropa sat down with Julie Delpy at the Zurich Film Festival, where she was presenting her new film, My Zoe
Discovered by Jean-Luc Godard at the age of 14, Julie Delpy is best known for her exciting career as an actress, having starred in films such as Before Midnight [+see also:
film profile], Three Colours: White and Europa Europa. She was nominated for an Academy Award for her work as a screenwriter on Before Sunset. She made her feature debut as a director in 2007 with 2 Days in Paris [+see also:
interview: Christophe Mazodier
interview: Julie Delpy
film profile]. She has also helmed The Countess [+see also:
interview: Anna Maria Mühe
film profile] (2009), Skylab [+see also:
film profile] (2011), 2 Days in New York [+see also:
film profile] (2012) and Lolo [+see also:
interview: Julie Delpy, Dany Boon
film profile] (2015). Her new directorial outing, My Zoe [+see also:
interview: Julie Delpy
film profile], is screening at the Zurich Film Festival, where we caught up with her.
Cineuropa: My Zoe is very topical because there are so many discussions about cloning right now.
Julie Delpy: The film is also kind of a tale about a mother's journey, and in a way, it's an allegory on child custody. Personally, I think the film is more that, but I do like the science aspect of it. I think we are on the cusp of big issues that we haven't addressed emotionally. We are addressing them ethically, but not in an emotional way.
What made you want to make a film about child custody?
I've seen women having to be a bitch to get what they want because if they don't, they will be crushed because that’s just how it is in a male-dominated society. It's interesting because there is so much more empathy shown towards men in a child-custody battle because there are hundreds of films on the subject, so men have been able to express themselves on the pain and anguish of child custody. How many movies have been made by women on the child-custody battle? Almost none. That's when I realised that there is empathy even from women towards men in a child-custody battle, as if women are always the ones getting the house, the car, the child and the money, when that’s not true at all.
Did you choose a British guy because the first IVF baby was born in England or because the first sheep was cloned in Edinburgh? Was that a nod to the history of cloning, or is it because British guys are arseholes?
No, British guys are not arseholes. I love British guys – when they are not drunk, they are wonderful. I'm from Brittany, but I found out that, genetically, we are the same as the British and the Irish, so I am British. I picked a British guy because the film is in English and I didn't really see an American man in the role. There was also a lot of dialogue, and some scenes are almost theatrical, so I felt like the delivery by a British actor would be the right thing. Then I met Richard [Armitage], and I thought he would be the right person to play that part. Also, he really wanted to play it, and it's not an easy role.
Does the name “Zoe” have any connection with Killing Zoe?
My husband, who is Greek, suggested it because it means a life that never ends. It's a Greek word.
You have worked with your parents before; did you think about casting your son as the child?
Not at all. First off, he is a boy, and I was not going to dress him as a girl. I'm not going to do that. Interestingly enough, I couldn't bring myself to write about a boy losing his life. It had to be a girl.
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