TERRY GROSS, HOST:
This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. The new movie "Before Midnight" stars my guests, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. They wrote the film with its director, Richard Linklater, who is also my guest. "Before Midnight" is the third film in a series that began with the 1995 film "Before Sunrise." In that first film, Ethan Hawke's character, Jesse, and Julie Delpy's character, Celine, meet on a train from Budapest.
He's an American on his way to Vienna to catch a plane back to the U.S.; she's returning home to Paris. After getting absorbed in conversation on the train, they're reluctant to part. Jesse tries to persuade Celine to get off the train with him.
(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "BEFORE SUNRISE")
ETHAN HAWKE: (as Jesse) All right, I have admittedly insane idea, but if I don't ask you this, it's just, you know, it's going to haunt me the rest of my life.
JULIE DELPY: (as Celine) What?
HAWKE: (as Jesse) Um, I want to keep talking to you. You know, I have no idea what your situation is, but I feel like we have some kind of a connection, right.
DELPY: (as Celine) Yeah, me too.
HAWKE: (as Jesse) Yeah, right. Well, great. So listen, here's the deal. This is what we should do. You should get off the train with me here in Vienna and come check out the town.
DELPY: (as Celine) What?
HAWKE: (as Jesse) Come on, it'll be fun.
DELPY: (as Celine) What would we do?
HAWKE: (as Jesse) I don't know. All I know is I have to catch an Austrian Airlines flight tomorrow morning at 9:30, and I don't really have enough money for a hotel. So I was just going to walk around. And it would be a lot more fun if you came with me. And if I turn out to be some kind of psycho, you know, you just get on the next train.
(as Jesse) All right, all right, think of it like this. Jump ahead - 10, 20 years, OK, and you're married, only your marriage doesn't have that same energy that it used to have. You know, you start to blame your husband. You start to think about all those guys you've met in your life and what might have happened if you picked up with one of them, right. Well, I'm one of those guys. That's me.
(as Jesse) You know, so think of this as time travel from then to now to find out what you're missing out on. See, what this really could be is a gigantic favor to both you and your future husband to find out that you're not missing out on anything, I'm just as big a loser as he is, totally unmotivated, totally boring, and you made the right choice, and you're really happy.
DELPY: (as Celine) Let me get my bag.
GROSS: Jesse and Celine spend the night walking and talking and falling in love. At the end of the film, when it's time for Jesse to catch his plane, he and Celine agree to meet again in six months, but they decide not to exchange phone numbers or addresses.
The next film in the series, "Before Sunset," jumps ahead nine years. Jesse and Celine never did meet up again as planned, but Jesse has just come to Paris to promote his new book, a fictionalized version of that night he spent with Celine. Celine shows up at the end of his reading at a bookstore, and their relationship picks up where it left off, in spite of the fact that Jesse is now married, unhappily, and has a son.
At the end of the film, Jesse is scheduled to fly back home to the U.S., but he decides to miss his flight and stay, at least for the night, with Celine. In the new film, "Before Midnight," Jesse is divorced from his wife and is living with Celine in Paris. They have two young twin girls, with whom they've been spending part of the summer at a writer's retreat in Greece. Jesse is a novelist, Celine is an environmentalist.
And now they're having the kinds of problems couples and parents tend to have. Celine is insecure about how age and motherhood have affected her looks. This scene is an echo of the first film, when they met nearly 20 years ago.
(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "BEFORE MIDNIGHT")
DELPY: (as Celine) Hey, can I ask you a question?
HAWKE: (Jesse) Sure.
DELPY: (as Celine) If we were meeting for the first time today on a train, would you find me attractive?
HAWKE: (Jesse) Of course.
DELPY: (as Celine) No, but really right now, as I am, would you start talking to me? Would you ask me to get off the train with you?
HAWKE: (Jesse) Well, I mean you're asking a theoretical question. I mean, what would my life situation be? I mean, technically, wouldn't I be cheating on you?
DELPY: (as Celine) OK, why can't you just say yes?
HAWKE: (Jesse) No, no, no, I did. I said of course.
DELPY: (as Celine) No, no, no, I wanted you to say something romantic, and you blew it, OK?
HAWKE: (Jesse) OK, OK, all right - if I saw you on a train, OK, listen, I would lock eyes with you, and I'd walk right up to you and say, hey baby, you are making me as horny as a Billy goat in a pickle patch...
DELPY: (as Celine) Ah, stop it, that's disgusting. Billy goat? No, the truth is, OK, you failed the test. And the fact is you would not pick me up on a train. You would not even notice me, a fat-ass middle-age mom losing her hair.
HAWKE: (as Jesse) Okay...
DELPY: (as Celine) Yeah, that's me.
HAWKE: (Jesse) You set me up to fail on this one, you did, all right?
DELPY: (as Celine) OK, true, true, true.
HAWKE: (Jesse) All right, but in the real world, Baldy, OK, on game day, when it mattered, I did talk to you on a train, OK, I did that. It was the best thing I ever did.
DELPY: (as Celine) Really? Look at the goats.
HAWKE: (Jesse) Hey.
DELPY: (as Celine) Hello.
HAWKE: (Jesse) But, you know, that's not even a good question, all right. The real question would be if I did ask you to get off a train...
DELPY: (as Celine) Yeah?
HAWKE: (as Jesse) ...would you get off with me?
DELPY: (as Celine) No, of course not. I have people waiting for me.
HAWKE: (Jesse) Yeah, see, so?
GROSS: Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, welcome to FRESH AIR. Were you all in agreement that there should be a third film, or did you have to, like, work that out before you agreed?
RICHARD LINKLATER: I think we kind of all eventually came to agreement.
GROSS: This is Richard Linklater speaking.
LINKLATER: Yeah, I mean, it sort of evolves. We joke about it for five or six years, and then maybe it takes a different tone where it seems more real, the possibilities of Celine and Jesse kind of start sounding more substantial. But we have this, you know, wonderful couple years of gestation time to think about it, so - when did it become real this time?
HAWKE: Well, I don't think it ever becomes real...
DELPY: Until we're all there in a room on the location, kind of.
HAWKE: Until we all agree that we want to be writing about the same thing. You know, I mean, if - that see them in the same place. And I mean I guess that happened when we all kind of realized we wanted them to be together.
DELPY: To be together.
HAWKE: And, you know, the first two films deal so much with romantic projection, and the third one we all really felt we couldn't do that again, we needed to really try to address the harder and more difficult aspects of daily life and what it means when you get what you want. I mean, what do you with what you want when you have it, and do you still want it?
And when we kind of all agreed that we all wanted to write about that, then it takes off.
GROSS: So were there alternate versions that you came up with before agreeing to that?
LINKLATER: Certainly, I think we were all on the same page as far as theme. We were going to delve into the domestic. But then the details from there, we ran - we had a couple years of a wide variety of possibilities. We talked about them in different cities, what the film would be. For six months we kind of felt it would be, you know, just like a Tuesday in their life, of their workaday world.
And some point we realized, oh, that's a little, I don't know, tedious maybe, boring? But we kept all that. That infuses the movie, but it - you know, we set in holiday.
DELPY: We dropped it, yeah, along the way.
HAWKE: The fund of these movies is they get to gestate over nine years. I mean, we get to have really in-depth ideas that we can throw away, but they're not gone. They become a coat of paint, you know, that is - yeah.
GROSS: So you agreed that this would be about a very tense moment in their relationship, where they're quarreling and could conceivably even break up.
DELPY: Yeah, it's a, like, moment of where they have to make a choice. You know, I think the films, each film has catched them at a moment where they make a choice and that our lives is carved, you know, more and more as we go into, you know...
HAWKE: By these choices.
DELPY: By these choices we make. And I think every time we meet them, they're at that moment, basically, the choice to get off the train, the choice to miss the plane, the choice to what do we do now, you know, do we separate, do we stick together and figure it out, what do we do.
GROSS: In the second film, Jesse tells Celine that he's in an unhappy marriage, but he can't imagine life without his son. So he doesn't want to break things up. And in this film, in the third film, you know, Jesse has left his wife to move to France to be with Celine and in the process ends up leaving his son behind too. The son has been visiting for the summer, but you know, the film opens with the son and Jesse at the airport saying goodbye to each other. It's a very moving scene.
And I'm wondering if you watched the first two movies a lot before writing the third one to see what threads did you want to pick up on, what things that they said could you expand on in some way.
HAWKE: Yeah, I mean you're picking up on the most - that scene is really the link between the two trains, you know, as it were. I mean it's - the second film ends with Jesse watching Celine dance to Nina Simone and talking to him, and you can kind of tell that this is a man who's in love and is not going to catch that plane home.
And so the third film opens with the consequences of that choice, I mean which is what Julie was just saying about these choices we make. People tell you to follow your heart and follow your bliss, but those choices are going - you know, actions have reactions, and it seemed the appropriate way to start the third film, by looking the consequences of that choice in the eyes.
GROSS: Are there emotions and conversations from the first film, "Before Sunrise," that looking back on it now seem really naive to you, even though it really rang true when you were in your 20s, and you wrote it and performed it?
DELPY: I don't know. You know, when we watch the first film, I realize how - I mean, I remember bits I had written and stuff, and I was like, oh my God, I was so, so romantic and suffering so much.
DELPY: Like it's more like it's not that it was naive, like I don't think it's stupid, but it's just like, you know, I remember what I wrote, and I remember I really believed in those things that I wrote and how much I was hurting, you know, and I'm like oh my God, I...
GROSS: You as a person was hurting, or your character was hurting?
DELPY: Yeah, yeah, me as a person, me as a character. I mean, you know, the thing about love I was hurting about, was also me as Julie in the past and, you know, so I mean it was also the character, but I thought about that more than just thinking I was naive and silly. And, you know, I was more thinking wow, I really believed in that stuff and I was miserable.
So that's what I think of it when I watch the first film.
HAWKE: For me it's funny. I see myself thinking I'm doing something that is confident and cool, and what I really see now is insecurity. And I see it for what it is. And I, you know, I thought I was coming off a certain way, and now I realize, oh no, that didn't come off the way I thought it did at all.
LINKLATER: Well, that's what being 23, you know, is.
LINKLATER: People think they're young, but 23...
DELPY: Insecure and miserable.
LINKLATER: Yeah, and yet mature enough to be kind of, you know, you're adult, but you're unattached. And that's what time has kind of revealed with these three films, you know.
GROSS: Julie Delpy, you said that when you made "Before Sunrise," and you were in your 20s, you and your character were suffering. What were you suffering about? What was making you miserable?
LINKLATER: Where to begin?
DELPY: Where to begin? Life, the business, me, love...
HAWKE: Can I answer that?
DELPY: Yeah, OK.
HAWKE: Yeah, I mean a little bit in a way, maybe let me - you know, Julie, when she was 23, you know, she'd starred in a Godard film. She'd worked with Kieslowski. She'd worked with Volker Schlondorff. This is a very serious actress and an experienced actress at 23. That's really rare. And I think she was deeply uncomfortable with the role of the ingenue.
GROSS: You didn't feel like you were cast in the ingenue role in "Before Sunrise," did you?
DELPY: No, actually, and that's why I really enjoyed working with Richard, and even in the audition process, when we started working, right away I sensed that he was not casting or interested in casting me for sitting there - and even in the screenplay, that - the original screenplay that was written was extremely intellectual, people talked a lot. It was not - you couldn't cast just a pretty girl to do that part. I mean that was clear and obvious.
And that's why I was interested in the film, you know, so I knew when I went in that - and then it became even more of that because when he started the process of the rehearsal and stuff, it became more than just, you know, even saying the lines either. You know, it became...
HAWKE: Yeah, Rick asked us to contribute and to be part of his creative process.
DELPY: And that was amazing to me.
HAWKE: And I don't think it's any coincidence that you and I both, Julie, that as soon as that movie was over, we went on to write and direct. I mean, that movie was a very empowering experience for us because Rick had encouraged us to collaborate with him, and it had an effect on both of us.
LINKLATER: I didn't just encourage, I demanded.
HAWKE: Yeah, yeah.
LINKLATER: I said this won't work unless...
HAWKE: If you don't do it.
GROSS: Why wouldn't it work? Richard Linklater, why wouldn't it have worked without collaboration?
LINKLATER: Well, I wasn't - I mean, I'm very interested in kind of the reality of these actors on the screen. So I know you can't just say lines that are written by someone else, that the script, the text, has to work its way through the person. And so by having Julie and Ethan kind of work with me in rewriting that script and personalizing it and demanding they give a lot of themselves, I thought that would be the only way that film could ultimately work the way I wanted it to.
The script was really a first step, but for it to give the effect that I wanted, I was looking for the two most creative young actors I could find to fill those shoes because I knew what would be asked of them. And it was a really exhilarating process.
GROSS: My guests are Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, the stars of the new film "Before Midnight," and Richard Linklater, the film's director. More after a break. This is FRESH AIR.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
GROSS: My guests are Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, the stars of the new film "Before Midnight," and Richard Linklater, the film's director. It's third in their series of films that began in 1995 with "Before Sunrise." There's a key scene in the movie, a long scene, where the couple is at a writer's home that's kind of like a retreat in Greece. And because Ethan Hawke is a writer, he and his wife and children have been invited there to spend a few weeks.
And as a gift, they're given one night at a hotel, just the couple themselves, and the people at the house are going to babysit their twin children overnight. So this is the first time they've been alone as a couple without worrying about scheduling for the kids or cleaning up, and the plan is to have like a romantic evening, a bottle of wine and some sex, and instead they end up having, you know, a pretty complicated fight with each other about things that have been building up.
So can you talk about writing the fight and making the fight seem real to you?
LINKLATER: I think the idea to the fight is to not look at it as a fight, necessarily. It starts off a love scene, certainly, they try not to fight, and I think that was the key. They really want to be heard. They would like this one issue that's been identified early in this film, and in fact this issue of Jesse's son Hank and trying to be a bigger part of his life, is probably - that fault line in their relationship was there at the beginning. That's been there for nine years, and it probably keeps emerging in their lives, and it's just one of those conundrums, you know, they find themselves in. They're going to - this is a tough spot, so...
GROSS: Well, the two characters have really different approaches to fighting. Julie Delpy, your character, really kind of needles Ethan Hawke's character, and she's kind of confrontational. And Ethan Hawke, your character is more like you're implying certain things, but you're not necessarily coming out and stating them, and it's kind of ambiguous whether you want certain things to happen or not.
And so, you know, the...
HAWKE: He's sly, more sly...
LINKLATER: I'd like to say about this scene, you're in the hands of two master manipulators. They're just, they have different styles, but they're very evenly matched.
GROSS: One of the dynamics is that, you know, both Jesse and Celine have been storing up certain resentments that there hasn't been the opportunity to talk about because of their responsibilities of child-rearing and day-to-day life. And when they get the chance to talk about it, I mean it just kind of comes pouring out in ways that they maybe didn't intend.
And I'm wondering, too, about that, if you've had that kind of experience of just, like, storing up resentments and waiting for the right moment, and then suddenly it's like bam, here it comes.
LINKLATER: Doesn't that happen to all of us?
DELPY: I would say I'm the kind of person that takes it in, takes it in, takes it in, takes it in, takes it in. You know, and I think a lot of people are like that, like you kind of like accept the abuse or the, you know, what you feel is abuse or what you feel is unfair to you for a long time, until it explodes eventually. I mean, I think a lot of people are like that, like...
HAWKE: It's why, you know, some people come to me and think that this movie is darker because Jesse and Celine are fighting, or it's less romantic. But I feel that they're fighting with each other because they still desire to be connected and that just because you blow up with somebody doesn't mean something negative is happening. Sometimes it has to happen, and it's actually, it's the...
DELPY: To go to the next level.
HAWKE: Yeah, something about not fighting is dishonest, and that can be more toxic and more poisonous than fighting.
LINKLATER: Yeah, usually one person wants to fight, and the other is running away from it, and nothing gets resolved, just resentment grows in different ways. But I think this fight was all of our greatest hits, the things when you're in a fight you think of an hour later, how to - what's the exact response to that; OK, well...
HAWKE: In this version, you had the idea at the right moment.
DELPY: That's the great thing about writing a fight, is that you can really think about the right answer.
LINKLATER: That's what made it fun and funny. You know, I see the fight, I enjoy it when audiences laugh a lot during the fight because even though Jesse and Celine, the farthest thing from their mind is any of this could be possibly funny, but the three of us as writers thought this was really funny.
HAWKE: Found it absolutely hysterical.
LINKLATER: And we like it when the audiences think it's funny.
GROSS: OK, I need an example, I need an example, one line that you found like really funny that's one of your greatest hits or someone you know's greatest hits that you use for the film.
LINKLATER: Oh gosh, so many.
HAWKE: Well, my favorite - one of Julie's is that men believe in fairies, you know, little fairies who sunscreen the kids, little fairies who empty the dishwasher...
DELPY: Pick up the socks...
GROSS: In other words, stuff that she's doing, men believe, you know, that the wives and mothers do, men believe little fairies come and do it.
LINKLATER: One of my favorite lines is when Celine's expressing her frustration at the burden of being a parent and working, and she doesn't have time to do, you know, her passion, which would be to write more songs and be a creative person the way, you know, Jesse has a lot of time carved out in his life to be a creative person, he's a novelist. And so she's complaining about not having time.
And when he comes back with, well, I wish you would, you know, find the time to do that. You somehow manage to find the time to complain, you know, about eight hours a day. So use that, you know...
DELPY: It's like time to do scales.
HAWKE: If you used that time to work on your scales, you'd be Django Reinhardt.
GROSS: So Julie Delpy, how does it feel in-character to be told that?
HAWKE: Actually, I was just thinking we did that scene so many times that I had like a visceral reaction of anger right there.
LINKLATER: Well, if you look at the - in the editing, the reaction shot of you saying that, your eyes narrow.
DELPY: I'm squinting.
LINKLATER: You just see it go - just daggers, daggers are coming out, but no words.
DELPY: Because it's - you know what, the thing is, like being told that is so much fun. I mean, as a character and as a person, being told terrible things about yourself, I mean I remember in the second film, like a friend of mine came up to me and said, oh, how can you let the character of Ethan says that to Celine about, like, you'll be a great mother with a few antidepressants.
You know, it's quite insulting, but I wrote that line for Ethan about my character because - you know, for Jesse, because I just think it's funny to write each other terrible things to - I mean it's kind of funny.
HAWKE: We know how to insult ourselves.
LINKLATER: Very much, we've heard it.
DELPY: I mean, it's kind of pleasurable. I don't know what - where it comes from, but to be told terrible things is very - it's kind of, I don't know.
HAWKE: It's freeing because then you can hit back.
DELPY: It's freeing, yeah.
GROSS: Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy will be back in the second half of the show. Their new movie is called "Before Midnight." This is FRESH AIR.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross back with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, the stars of the new film "Before Midnight," and Richard Linklater, the film's director. The three co-wrote the film. It's their third film in a series that began with their 1995 movie "Before Sunset," in which Hawke's and Delpy's characters meet on a train from Budapest and spend the night together, then she returns home to Paris and he returns home to the U.S. They meet again nine years later in the second film "Before Sunset," and in the new film they're a couple living together in Paris with their twin daughters. Linklater, Delpy and Hawke received an Oscar nomination for their screenplay for "Before Sunset." Richard Linklater's other films include "Slacker," "Dazed and Confused," "The School of Rock" and "Bernie." Ethan Hawke has starred in numerous films and theatrical productions. He received an Oscar nomination for his role in "Training Day." Julie Delpy directed and starred in "Two Days in Paris" and "Two Days in New York."
Richard Linklater, the idea for the first film "Before Sunrise" started with you, I've read that it's based on an experience that you had meeting somebody, I think in Philadelphia, where FRESH AIR is produced.
HAWKE: Yeah. In your town.
GROSS: Yes. So would you mind telling us what that actual life experience was that the story was that inspired the movie?
LINKLATER: I think a lot of people have had that experience, I hope. You know, you're kind of unattached, young, especially when you're traveling, you're kind of open for these experiences. You know, I was just at a toy store and staying, I was in town for one night visiting my sister on my way back to Texas from New York and, I don't know, this young woman was kind of flirting with me a little bit, or we had that little connection. And so I was bold enough to ask her like well, when do you, you know, when do you get off? Do you want to hang out after? You know, I probably would never do that otherwise, but, you know, I was kind of what the hell? I'm only here one night. I'll never see anybody again. Kind of emboldens you a little bit, for rejection. So she was like sure, you know, I get off at 10. So we just ended up walking around Philly all night. And it was similar to the movie. I had to catch a plane the next morning and, you know, that was it. It was a, but you know, filmmaker that I was and aspiring to be, you know, where nothing is real unless you could make a film about it. I remember three in the morning we're walking around and I'm saying, you know, I want to make a film about this and she's like what are you talking about?
LINKLATER: And I'm like, you know, this, this feeling, you know, this flirtation, this connection were having, you know, I just think that the movie. But so I was lucky, you know, years later to finally get to, you know, I thought about that for a long time and then I don't think that's a unique event. You know, that happens to a lot of people, like I said. But...
DELPY: It's never happened to me.
LINKLATER: Sure it hasn't. But, you know, so, you know, it was just this I think the idea was to make a film about an emotion or an essence. There was a big story there. It would really just be exploring a connection between two people - which isn't the stuff of probably great narrative. There's not a lot of plot there. But from a character standpoint I thought that could be a movie - albeit, a very low budget movie.
GROSS: In "Before Sunrise" the characters agree that they'll meet together at a designated place in six months but they're not going to exchange telephone numbers or addresses. Did you stay in touch with the woman who you met in Philadelphia?
LINKLATER: Yeah. Actually, we did exchange phone numbers and, you know, it did the usual fizzle where you call once or twice and then you're, you know, you're separated by a continent. So it just when you're separated, you know, physically like that it's difficult.
GROSS: Did the woman who you met in Philadelphia at the toy store know that "Before Sunrise" was inspired by your night with her?
LINKLATER: You know, this is a really sad story, but I found out about two or three years ago that she actually tragically died young, in a motorcycle accident. And I didn't know that until a friend of hers put this together, had seen the films and got in touch with me, and kind of put this together and asked me were those films based on my friend Amy, you know? Because she told me once she met a filmmaker, some guy from Texas and I looked up your thing and you're, you know, so it was really so sad that just the idea she wasn't...
GROSS: So did she die before "Before Sunrise?"
LINKLATER: Yes. She died right before we went to Vienna to shoot before - she wasn't alive even for the - and she kind of echoes through the films because I always felt I would see her, like she would show up at a screening. You know, when you make a film, you're in public quite a bit. You're at a - you do screenings, you're at a film festival and I run into a lot of old friends. And I figured, just in my mind, I'm like, oh, she's going to, you know, I have a screening in Philadelphia; maybe she'll be there, maybe she'll be in New York, maybe she'll, you know, and she never showed up. So I always felt, you know, even in the second film, I think that, in a way, works into the idea of the novel and it's sent out as a beacon, you know, in some way, what Jesse admits to, that was swirling around. And I don't want to exaggerate and say oh, that was, it wasn't as intense of a relationship, obviously, as Celine and Jesse have; it was just something kind of swirling around in my mind, you know. So, but it's really, the new film is dedicated to her.
GROSS: My guests are Richard Linklater, the director of the new film "Before Midnight," and Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, the stars of the film. More after break. This is FRESH AIR.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
GROSS: If you're just joining us, my guests are Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, and they collaborated on the new film "Before Midnight." It's the third film in the series that they made together starting with "Before Sunrise" and then "Before Sunset." Richard Linklater is the director and co-writer, and Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke are the co-writers and stars.
There's one scene that's an evolving disagreement that's shot in the car. A couple is in the front seat and the twin kids are in the backseat, and it's basically one - is a one-shot?
HAWKE: Yeah. One 13 minute take. Yeah.
GROSS: One take. Yeah.
LINKLATER: Well, there's a brief cutaway to the ruins she's describing.
GROSS: Right. Right.
LINKLATER: But we come back to the same take, so it's really one take.
GROSS: So I'm figuring from the way it is shot that the camera is probably mounted on the hood of the car or...
DELPY: Hood or (unintelligible)...
GROSS: And where were you, Richard Linklater, when you're directing this?
LINKLATER: There is trailer that the car is mounted on...
GROSS: Pulling the car.
LINKLATER: You know, that's was funny about these films, Ethan and Julie you think are just naturally kind of wandering through the world and there's this huge technical...
DELPY: There's lights everywhere.
HAWKE: There's 20 miles of road blocked off.
LINKLATER: There's nothing to see. There's no beautiful view. You look up and see a crew.
DELPY: There's like the crew of 40 people - no, not 40, 20 people right in front of us...
DELPY: ...looking straight at us.
LINKLATER: ...there's all this technical apparatus everywhere so there's no, nothing real about it. But we're going for that realism and I think the idea of this scene was, you know, you want the audience to feel like they've dropped in on Jesse and Celine's reality and there's no better way to, either consciously or unconsciously, make the viewer think they're in a reality than and a uninterrupted take I think kind of spells that out. It's very hard to act. It's very hard to do that kind of non-acting acting, so that was one of the harder scenes. We rehearsed that because of the requirement that we get it in one, it's a pretty high bar there.
GROSS: How many takes did you have to do? And how frustrating is it when you've gotten almost to the end one of you blows it?
LINKLATER: I don't really remember that. That didn't...
DELPY: It's unbearable.
LINKLATER: The pressure is high but we get in a group.
HAWKE: We will usually blew it early in the take.
DELPY: Yeah. Yeah.
HAWKE: What was stressful is on the one take that we did when we finally got it, the closer we got to the last line there's kind of a mounting anxiety in your throat that, you know...
HAWKE: ...wait a second. Where most there. Oh, hope I don't blow it now.
DELPY: But the feeling of having done it though, is great. I mean at the end of feeling that you did it, like it's almost like it's almost like you're kind of floating.
LINKLATER: And let's not forget.
HAWKE: Don't forget the kids - the kids.
LINKLATER: There's four actors that scene...
HAWKE: Yeah. We had the...
LINKLATER: ...the two little girls.
DELPY: The two little girls. Yeah.
HAWKE: We have to thank these two - or they were seven.
LINKLATER: Prior twins. Yeah.
HAWKE: And, you know, a 13 minute take in a hot car in Greece, I mean my kids would've fallen asleep. I mean...
LINKLATER: No. Or mine would've looked at the camera the whole time.
HAWKE: Yeah. I know.
LINKLATER: Yeah. So...
DELPY: They were so good.
LINKLATER: They were perfect. It's really rare.
DELPY: Yeah. Well, how come that they didn't fall asleep?
LINKLATER: I don't know.
DELPY: I mean that's what would have had happen.
LINKLATER: They're having to listen to your conversation. I mean it's pretty dramatic.
DELPY: I mean over and over for three days - for two days and it's...
GROSS: So Julie, there's a scene I'm sure everybody will be talking about where - you know what it is - where you are, it's in the hotel room where you're alone with, you know, Ethan Hawke's character and you had started to make love but then got into a fight in the middle of it so you're lying there with your shirt off, and but it's not sexy to him at this point. Do you know what I mean? Like he's seen a lot of time. It was sexy when you were making love. But now that you're just sitting there talking or arguing, just seeing your breasts is not, is not arousing to him. It's...
DELPY: It's not in a sick...
HAWKE: In an erotic way.
LINKLATER: It's familiar.
DELPY: Well, I thought that's what happens when you're in a relationship for a long time, like, you know, seeing someone naked, it's not necessarily in a, you know, sexual way. You know, you're not objectified anymore - which is interesting because it's actually, usually movies, women are naked to be objectified and in that scene she's not at all.
HAWKE: She's talking about her stepson's science project.
HAWKE: I mean so that's what I love about it.
DELPY: I mean I think it's more funny, it's more for a funny thing. I mean I think it's more as a way to say something that is, you know, real and funny then it has no, you know, I'm actually being asked this question only in this country so far so.
LINKLATER: Well, we were trying to get at the utter familiarity they have with each other, that that's not titillating in the, you know, someone that sees...
GROSS: Mm-hmm. It's not like well, I haven't seen those before. Wow.
DELPY: Yeah, I know.
GROSS: Yeah. You are comfortable doing it. There was no question for you...
DELPY: Well, I'm comfortable with, I mean it's never super comfortable to be in front of a crew naked, but I had to make...
HAWKE: You wished the air conditioning was on.
DELPY: Was on.
DELPY: It was really hot.
HAWKE: So hot. Just...
DELPY: Yeah. Yeah. We were dying. But, you know, I - I mean, you know, I try, you know, when I act I try to make abstractions of a lot of things and that's part of what acting is. You know, it's just like you're just doing a scene and you agree to do that and I mean I was, I co-wrote this. It's not like I was forced to do this, you know, and I was probably the one that suggested it, or we all agreed on it, so, you know, we thought it was funny.
GROSS: If you're just joining us, my guests are Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke and Richard Linklater. They collaborated on three movies now, "Before Sunrise" "Before Sunset" and the new movie "Before Midnight." Richard Linklater is the director and co-writer, Ethan Hawk and Julie Delpy are the stars and co-writers.
Since the new movie, "Before Midnight," is about a long-term relationship - a committed relationship and the tension's there, as opposed to like a new relationship that's like so like romantic where you're projecting all these wonderful things onto this person who you don't really know, I'm wondering how marriage or like a long-term committed relationship looked to you, looked to each of you, as a child seeing your parent's relationship or seeing or seeing your parent's divorce.
HAWKE: Well, we each we all have a very different answer to that question.
GROSS: Do you want to start?
HAWKE: Well, I'll start, which is just that, you know, I don't think I saw my parents together until I was an adult, you know, so I had no kind of model for that. But Julie, her parents...
DELPY: The opposite.
DELPY: I mean my parents have been together till sadly, my mom passed away, but they would stay together till forever.
HAWKE: They were so funny and so active.
DELPY: I mean they argued a lot. That's the truth. They had incredible arguments, I mean like nonstop. But they loved each other and they were very passionate about each other, and very engaged with each other, and very attracted to each other. I mean they would even tell me about it - which was not always great.
LINKLATER: And you were the only...
DELPY: And I was an only child so I would hear everything.
GROSS: Wait, what would they tell you?
DELPY: So - huh?
GROSS: What would they tell you?
HAWKE: They would tiny details that you cannot say on the radio.
DELPY: Say on the radio.
GROSS: How embarrassing.
HAWKE: They told her details that made my jaw drop when I heard them, OK?
GROSS: Is that the definition of too much information?
HAWKE: Yeah. Exactly.
DELPY: But it away, you know, now that I think about it, it actually gave me a lot of hope in like being, you know, like I'm thinking of...
HAWKE: It's part of why you're so romantic. You've been chasing the model that you saw.
HAWKE: I mean these are - we spent time with them, Richard and I...
LINKLATER: Yes. They're incredible.
HAWKE: ...and their incredible. They're both actors and they're very vibrant and very funny and...
LINKLATER: Yeah. Lively.
HAWKE: And they touch each other and they touch you and...
HAWKE: And so they were fun to be around, even though her father doesn't speak a word of English, and I love the guy.
LINKLATER: Oh, the gestures.
HAWKE: We could just look at each other and hug each other and point to Julie and laugh and, you know...
HAWKE: And he pinches me and...
DELPY: In all the right places.
LINKLATER: If you see Julie's film, her "Two Days in Paris" and "Two Days in New York"...
DELPY: Yeah. Yeah.
LINKLATER: ...you get to really know her dad there.
GROSS: Because he plays your character's father...
GROSS: ...in it. So Julie, since you saw your parents love each other but also argue a lot...
GROSS: ...did it make you think well, arguing is OK - arguing isn't like a horrible frightening thing?
DELPY: Definitely. I mean I don't think arguing it is the end of, you know, the road for relationship. I mean it's probably, you know, I mean it wasn't always good to see them argue. It was a little scary at times as a child and stuff, but it made me understand that it wasn't - it's not because they were arguing that they were not loving each other. That's for sure. I mean I could sense the love. There was never a doubt that my parents loved each other. It never reached my mind a second that there could have been no love between them. Even though they had been probably, you know, there might have been some infidelity along the way, but the love was so present between them. There was zero doubt about it. Zero.
And it's a very strong feeling as a child to feel that your parents - the people that are raising you, there is no doubt that they love each other. It's a very comforting and very - it makes you feel very secure, in a way, even though I'm insecure in many ways. There's something about love that I really strongly believe in, you know.
But Rick wanted to talk about his view on love, and I felt he had something to say that, you know, I mean...
LINKLATER: Oh, gosh.
DELPY: ...my view is so positive.
LINKLATER: Oh, I know. My parents were divorced when I was seven, but I remember them fighting - just at night, hearing a fight which was quickly followed by a divorce. So I kind of thought, oh, well that's kind of the end of the line. So I've always been real fight-averse. I remember dating this Greek woman for a long time, and she fought all the time.
It was just the way - she fought with her family. She'd be on the phone screaming at them, and then they'd be calling back. I was just amazed at how quickly things escalated into, you know, raised voices. And I thought it was kind of thrilling for a little while.
GROSS: So you've had exactly the opposite experience of Julie, where her parents fought all the time.
LINKLATER: I would say almost exactly the opposite experience of Julie. My dad, he has a very...
GROSS: Your experience is like every child's worst fear when they hear their parents fight. Like, OK, this is it. They're separating. I'm done.
LINKLATER: Yeah. I think that, yeah, means the end. But then my dad has a very long-term second marriage. And he just - I don't think he's ever raised his voice. You know, I would get a car wreck as a teenager, and he would be so levelheaded. He's like, well, you know, we have insurance. It's OK. You know, he just never yelled at me.
GROSS: Did this affect how you went at the fight scene in the movie? Since, like, Richard Linklater, you're so, you know, kind of fight-averse, and Julie Delpy, like, you grew up with that and it doesn't scare you.
HAWKE: If you watch the fight, what is - Jesse is trying to stop them. And that's very Rick's sensibility coming alive in Jesse. He's always trying to stop the fight, but also - but his problem is he needs to have the last word all the time, and that's what perpetuates the fight.
DELPY: Yeah, that's true. He just says that extra word every time.
LINKLATER: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
DELPY: You know.
HAWKE: That you're absolutely right - as always.
DELPY: I mean, that drives her crazy. I mean, that's - you know, fighting is really about little things. It's about what, you know, word you use in a sentence when you say - you know, instead of saying where is my toothbrush, is where did you put my toothbrush? And then it triggers a whole entire fight. I mean, that's the sad thing about, you know, the difficult thing about a relationship. You really have to be careful with what you say, you know, if you don't want to trigger some kind of long-term fight that, you know, has been brewing.
GROSS: Richard Linklater, do you think there's going to be a fourth film in the "Before Sunrise" series?
LINKLATER: Wow. You know, the fact that we've done it twice now, that, you know, Jesse and Celine have emerged, you know, years later and had something to say about a new place in life - I mean, on the one hand I wouldn't be surprised. On the other hand, I know for a fact the three of us have zero ideas about that and won't have any ideas for many years. And I think we're all happily on hiatus from these two characters for quite some time.
So - but, you know, who knows the future? I would like to have the option to see Jesse and Celine in some new situation in the future, you know, in the next 50 years or so. That would be fun.
GROSS: So do you all keep in touch when you're not working on a movie?
DELPY: Fifty years.
LINKLATER: Do we keep in touch? Yeah. I think we're supportive of one another. I mean, we definitely - we live in three different places, so it's rare we're all in the same town. But when we are, we get together, have dinner or something. It's always really fun.
HAWKE: I remember Julie and Rick came to see me in "Henry IV." and I remember seeing Rick at Julie's premier in L.A.
HAWKE: That's usually how we run into each other.
DELPY: But we don't hang out and spend every weekend together and stuff. I mean, we can't. We're, like, working in different cities.
DELPY: We have kids.
LINKLATER: We're like a band that tours every nine years or something. We can sit back in the studio.
GROSS: Well, it's been great to talk with all of you. Congratulations on the third film. Thank you so much for talking with us.
DELPY: Thank you.
LINKLATER: Thanks for having us.
DELPY: Thank you.
GROSS: Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy star in the new movie "Before Midnight." Richard Linklater directed the film. Coming up, Milo Miles reviews an album of music from last year's annual music festival in northern Mali. This year's festival was canceled because of fighting and Islamist repression. This is FRESH AIR.