Chris Rock and actor/director Julie Delpy at the premiere of 2 Days in New York. Photo by George Pimentel/Getty Images.
On Monday, writer-director-actor Julie Delpy anxiously walked onto the stage of the Eccles Theatre to introduce her new film 2 Days in New York. “Sequels are sometimes better than originals. Like, 2010 was better than 2001,” Delpy joked as she nervously premiered the second part of a series. In her new film, which is a follow-up to her 2007 2 Days in Paris, Delpy swaps in a new city and boyfriend.
2 Days in New York begins with a puppet show summarizing how Marion (played by Delpy) made the transformation—she grew apart from her boyfriend (played by Adam Goldberg in the first film) after they moved to New York and had a child. Post break-up, Marion falls in love with a divorced single father, Mingus (Chris Rock), the sanest, most subdued character in the film.
They live a happy life together—until Marion’s family comes to visit from Paris. The sequel’s premise is the same as the original: spending concentrated time with family leads to mass chaos. However, the unexpected exchanges between rational Mingus and Marion’s crazy French family push the conceits of in-law humor and lost-in-translation mayhem into a hilariously new existential realm.
After the film played to an enthusiastic crowd, Delpy, Rock, principal cast members Albert Delpy (Delpy’s father, who doesn’t speak a word of English), Alexia Landeau, and Alex Nahon answered audience questions.
As a big fan of Chris Rock, I’m wondering if there was a lot of collaboration in making this film?
Delpy: Chris didn’t write it. Alexia and I wrote it and we worked on the story all together the three of us (she also points to Alex Nahon). I wrote it with Chris in mind. Chris ad-libbed a few lines, but he pretty much followed the script. I would channel my inner Chris Rock (audience laughs), which was a little weird at times. I wanted the character to be its own thing, and I think that’s why Chris wanted to do it.
Rock: They wrote the script. There was a little bullshit I wouldn’t say, but no, I loved the script. I read it and I was like, ‘Is Ethan Hawke dead? What’s going on?’ After I found out in real life Ethan wasn’t dead, I agreed to do the movie.
Chris, do you understand French?
Rock: No. Not all. When I was confused in the movie, I was really confused.
What inspired the story?
Delpy: Relationships, Jaws—the feeling of being surrounded by sharks and danger. I often think of Jaws when I write movies; it’s the weirdest thing. I don’t know what inspired me. Relationships. How do you make a relationship work? How do you rebuild a relationship when it can fall apart so quickly? How do you create a new family and include them with your old family? You know, relationship shit.
When I decided to write the sequel to 2 Days in Paris when my boyfriend in that film was Adam Goldberg, I realized I could not write a sequel to this film with the same boyfriend. I wanted Marion to be this person who keeps on trying to make it work with different men. I kept thinking, ‘Who is my next boyfriend?’
Julie, what characteristics do you think you inherited from your father? And can you ask your father to answer the same?
Delpy: I inherited his tendency to eat a lot. (She turns to her father and asks him the question in French and he responds by exaggeratedly pulling his beard.) I think we like life.
Chris, in the part of the film where you were ad-libbing to the poster of Barack Obama, was that really ad-libbing?
Rock: Julie wrote a lot of it, but some of it was ad-libbing. I would actually talk to Barack. They cut out the whole thing where me and Barack smoke a joint.
I love the idea of selling your soul as a conceptual art piece. How did this come up?
Delpy: I was looking on eBay for things to buy. I was like, ‘Wow that’s crazy.’ People sell their old underwear and other really weird stuff. So I was like, ‘What if I sell my soul?’ I liked the concept, but then it brought up all these questions like ‘Does the soul exist? Maybe it does?’ And if the soul exists, then it’s absurd if we would be able to sell it. Then I was thinking, ‘Who in the world would actually buy this piece of conceptual art?” And I’m friends with Vincent Gallo, and I was like, ‘Vincent would buy it!’