In a world where a film’s worth is determined by its opening weekend, Nora Ephron’s “Julie and Julia” registers as uniquely resilient.
Despite opening behind the summer’s second movie-length action figure commercial, the Julia Child biopic has nonetheless steadily compiled more than $80 million at the B.O. — catapulting Child’s 48-year-old “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” to the top of the bestseller list, and tapping into that demo most market researchers seem to have given up on — adults.
It’s the kind of success that suits Ephron well. Classicist without being regressive, and sophisticated without being snobbish, Ephron has long been a part of that rare breed who can craft a dead-on Cormac McCarthy impersonation for the New Yorker while simultaneously producing crowdpleasing romantic comedies, not to mention reconciling an old-school journalism background with a knack for blogging. (She sums up her blogging philosophy succinctly: “If it takes more than an hour, I’m doing it wrong.”)
In this regard, the effortlessly able yet unpretentious Child would seem something of a kindred spirit, as well as a subject that allowed Ephron to fuse her signature sensibility to her dearest of subjects.
“Cooking is one of the major things my life is about,” Ephron says. “I’d used food a lot in films before this, but it was always a major hurdle to be able to work it in.”
A former food writer herself, Ephron wrote one of the first true foodie memoirs, “Heartburn,” inspired by the dissolution of her marriage to Carl Bernstein, and later adapted it into a screenplay. Film directing appointments soon followed, and she has since maintained an admirably variegated career — splitting her talents between films, books and plays.
But despite her prolificacy, there’s always room for self-doubt.
“I’d always wanted to have the career of someone like Woody Allen,” she says, “but I don’t know how he does it. I could never produce multiple films a year every year. Even if they paid me huge amounts of money and let me use all the unfinished scraps I have in my closet.”
IN A NUTSHELL
Job titles: Director, screenwriter, author, playwright, blogger, journalist
Role models: “I’m most wildly inspired by Billy Wilder and (Ernst) Lubitsch, although I’m sorry to say they haven’t rubbed off on me nearly as much as I would have liked.”
Career mantra: “I’m extremely lucky for the fact that I’m allowed to work in more than one medium, so it’s easier to keep working.”