Interview with Adam Goldberg
By Caroline Planque
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?
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
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
Did you put a lot of yourself in Jack?
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?
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?
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?
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
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
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.
2006 All content property of European Weekly unless where otherwise