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Interview with Adam Goldberg
By Caroline Planque
Posted August 27, 2007


   Meet Adam Goldberg, Julie Delpy’s co-star in her latest movie, Two days in Paris. In the comedy about the cultural divide and misunderstanding of a Franco-American couple, Jack (Goldberg) and Marion (Delpy) decide on their way back to New York from Venice to spend a couple days at Marion’s parents in Paris. While the movie will often make you smile and laugh, this neurotic couple is bound to drive you crazy, as will the numerous clichés used throughout the film. And you’ll end up wondering: are they that way in real life? Adam Goldberg was in Seattle during the film festival and answered a few questions.  

    Did you know Julie before making this movie?

    Goldberg:Yes, for many years. She mentioned the idea of it, maybe three or four years ago. Then, she thought about it again about a year and a half ago.  

    How was it for you to work with Julie, who was at the same time one of the main actors as well as the director?

    Goldberg: Well, you know, as an actor, you always want the director’s attention, while obviously the director has to deal with so many different things at the same time. If the director is also an actor, that person is going to have to deal with so many more things. So certainly there is that element. But another element is that it was a very collaborative and organic sort of process, where what she was doing as an actress in extension of what she was doing as a director felt completely natural. So I just felt very involved in it and it felt fairly normal. I had done the same thing myself in the past. And it’s not as bizarre as people think it is. With a certain type of movies, I think it makes sense to do it. With some other movies, I would never want to direct myself.    

    Did you put a lot of yourself in Jack?

    Goldberg: It’s pretty much me. There are no two ways about it!  

    Was Julie very directive in what she wanted or did she give you a lot of leeway to play Jack?

    Goldberg: She was both. Sometimes, she’ll be very specific about things, or certain reactions. But it was a very collaborative thing, something that we had both communicated quite a bit on before the script was written, so it was something that we were always talking about up until the day that we were shooting. It was extremely collaborative, which is how I like to work as an actor and also as a director.  

    How was it for you to work in her world with her real parents on the set? Did it make it harder, easier?

    Goldberg: Working with the parents is fun! Working in France wasn’t quite as much fun. I don’t speak French. I have a horrible problem retaining any sort of language. So there would be situations where I had absolutely no clue what was going on, people would forget to translate, that sort of thing. The hours and the working schedule are very different. I really remember one morning getting there at 10:30 and we just sat there for an hour and just went to lunch. And you’re eating like fish and wine and it’s 11 in the morning! And then suddenly, you’re shooting for 8 hours. It’s a radically different way of actually shooting movies and I was never entirely sure how much of that was based on the budget of the movie or how much was based on a sort of Parisian shooting schedule. I fought that quite a bit. Once I sort of gave myself over to it, I began to relax, slightly. But her parents are great. I knew her father before, but not her mom. They were terrific. I had a lot of fun with them.   

    There seem to be two themes in the movie: first the cultural shock between French and American culture, then also the difficulty for the 30-some generation to build a stable relationship with a significant other.

    Goldberg: There is certain post-modern feel to their relationship. My kind of concept of it has always been that these people are keeping themselves entertained by all of their misery and their theatrics and their melodramatic tirades in order to keep themselves from actually being intimate with each other. So in that sense, the movie that you are watching is the movie that they are creating in order to entertain themselves, but really what they are not doing is being truly honest and intimate with each other, and certainly with themselves. In fact I said this in one improvisation, but Julie ended up cutting it out, where I was likening our relationship to the one of France and the United States. You can certainly look at it on that level a little bit. And just this idea, that you don’t really know the person you are sleeping next to. I think this happens fairly universally regardless of one’s age. What this couple is saying is: that’s just the way it is, just accept me for who I am…Well, I think people should have to change, too. 

    Did you experience any kind of cultural shock yourself on the set in Paris? What about during your time out of the set? Did you spend any time on your own outside the set?

    Goldberg: Not really, I have two really good friends who live there and we went to dinner twice. But other than that, I was too tired. And I am not a very good traveler. I get very anxious in strange places. I spent a lot of time in my hotel room downloading Southpark. Most people would be in Paris, it’s a time of their life…but, no, I was watching Southpark!    

    Did you meet a lot of French individuals who resembled the characters of the movie?

    Goldberg: I don’t know about this, all I know is Julie would always say: “I am this way and that way because I am French!” And I always said to her, and I said this in the movie too: “You can’t blame or explain your entire personality based on the country where you were born.” But after spending a little time, I began to agree with her that maybe France is responsible for some of her cockiness. But I’ve always been somebody who really over-romanticized the French…I don’t know about being a Francophile, but certainly in terms of movies and things like that. The other thing is that I think this is also about a sort of disillusionment: you think you’re going to go to France and you’re going to use your relationship with you beautiful French girlfriend, and every man should be so lucky, but in the end, you’re still dealing with a real human being and real issues. So it’s not like it turns into the Umbrellas of Cherbourg all of a sudden, just because you are in France!  

    Did you see in Paris a lot of the stereotypes depicted by Julie in her movie?

    Goldberg: Not exactly, everybody in the movie is a somewhat exaggerated version of themselves. I just didn’t see much of anybody outside of the set. I have my two friends who are there and they are very different. One is from Spokane actually, the other is French and she is very different.  

What is your impression of France now?

    Goldberg: It’s weird, I feel like I am becoming strangely patriotic about the United States. But I am sure this is largely rooted in the fact that I was just very frustrated about the fact that I couldn’t communicate. But I began to really empathize with those people who immigrate to the United States, who have a hard time communicating, and how terribly brave those people are. I think I was more frustrated by that because I wanted to embrace it all, in its glory and I don’t think I can. I used to feel the same way by reading Camus, reading a translation, wouldn’t it be great to read the original, same thing with movies that have been subtitled. That has always been a source of frustration for me. But I think there is a certain amount of nationalism and patriotism, which I find stubborn and disconcerting, but that’s true just about anywhere. I’ve experienced it in Canada; I’ve experienced it certainly in the United States. And I just generally find that bizarre – in the sense that you just happened to have been born there, not that it’s not important to connect with your history.  

    Would you live in France if you could speak better French?

    Goldberg: Well, that’s the thing, I always thought I would. I honestly thought I don’t belong in the United States. The sort of movies I want to make can’t be made here. I’m going to end up in France! But I think in the end, I really have come to accept the fact that I am from Los Angeles, I really embrace Los Angeles in a way that I was not really able to do growing up, even a few years ago because I was living in New York. So, no, I wouldn’t live in France. I would probably try to be an expat who never leaves. You can be ideologically an expat without being geographically! That’s probably what I’ll be.  

Two Days in Paris opened on August 24, 2007 at the Harvard Exit.


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