For “Lolo,” her sixth film as director, Julie Delpy has created a dark comedy perfectly suited to her talents. The offbeat farce stars Danny Boon as Jean-Rene, a recently divorced father who falls for Violette (Delpy), a driven but neurotic producer in the fashion industry. The main problem is Violette’s 19-year-old son, the titular Lolo (Vincent Lacoste), a brilliant but disturbed youth who will go to great lengths to keep the couple apart.
The comedy is by turns sweet and vulgar, kept on track thanks to Delpy’s assured hand. A two-time Oscar nominee for co-scripting “Before Sunset” and “Before Midnight,” she also co-wrote the “Lolo” screenplay with Eugénie Grandval. The outspoken actress talked to Variety about making the film, working with actresses and how she’s not opposed to making special effects-driven blockbusters.
Congratulations on the film; I love movies about bad seed children.
It’s funny you’d say that: “The Bad Seed” is actually the film that was the main inspiration for this. I loved that film growing up; it’s so dark and I found it kind of funny. Same with “Children of the Damned,” which they watch in the movie, not knowing it’s their life.
You co-wrote the film with Eugénie Grandval; how did the idea come about?
She’s a new mom, and we discussed the fact of what is it to be a mother, a woman in your 40s, finding love. And what is it when the person you love the most is actually the most horrible person? It could be a best friend, a boss, anything. But I felt a son would be good because for a certain kind of mother, you’re blinded with love and in complete denial. It’s very hard for some parents to see.
Was it hard to play Violette as so oblivious to Lolo’s behavior?
In a way what I think is funny is how obvious he is. But she can’t see it. Sometimes people that don’t have a narcissistic bone in their body are incapable of seeing people like that. I never see the manipulative, destructive people because I don’t know those things are even possible. Maybe it’s a testament to me in a way in that I am completely unsociopathic and I never see manipulation because I never use it. It’s actually a problem! I was raised by two complete, genuine hippies who never said what they didn’t think. It’s actually tough in this business to be completely devoid of those tendencies. It’s amazing I’ve made it so far.
You have a young son —
Yes, and he’s not at all like Lolo. He has no sign of sociopathic, narcissistic behavior!
Has he seen any of your movies?
Definitely not this one. I tried to show him a little bit of “2 Days in New York” and the only thing he said was, “Mommy, why don’t you make movies with green screens and visual effects?”
Well, why don’t you?
I’d love to! I went to see a cartoon with my son yesterday and we had so much fun. But it’s going to be a long road before I can get there, I think.
Well you did have a part in “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”
I’m there for half a second; if you sneeze, you miss me. It was funny because I had just spoke to my agent and said, “Hey, I’m 42, 43, I’m the age to play the villains in Marvel films.” And five minutes later he got a call asking about this role. So I said, “Okay, it’s meant for me to do it then.” And when you have kids, you think of that stuff. “My kid can see me in a superhero movie!”
You also recently got married.
I got married, yes! Something I never thought I would do, but I did. This is partly what “Lolo” is about; you get to a place in life where you just want to be with someone and that’s it. I found the person I love and I’m done. I never thought it would happen to me. It’s a pretty happy time, it’s amazing. And very peaceful.
Does he get along with your son?
Oh my God, it’s the opposite of the movie. First of all, my son is an adorable little creature and he adores my husband. They love each other. It’s good I made the film because in a way all my anxiety about that stuff went into the film and it’s not part of my life anymore. You get rid of all of your s—.
How did the idea of casting Dany Boon come about?
When I started writing the film, I thought of him right away. He’s funny but also endearing. And such a good comedian. His agent said he was too busy but then they read the script and he said yes like 10 minutes later. He told me he waited two hours to call me, playing it cool. He didn’t want to seem too eager but he wanted to call me 10 minutes after he read the script.
What about the casting of Vincent Lacoste, who you directed in your film “Skylab”?
I had him in mind when I wrote the screenplay. He’s one of the most talented actors in France. He’s smart as hell, and the sweetest kid. On “Skylab” he really impressed me with his professionalism and how prepared he was. He’s always been given the kind of nice guy part, more sweet or a bit of a loser. Here he was a slick sociopath and no one has offered him something like that before. I think he had fun with it.
What’s up next?
I’m shooting “The Bachelors” with J.K. Simmons now in L.A. Then I’m going off to England to do my next film, a drama that I’m directing. It’s a very, very dark movie. I’m in it as well, but that’s it. I already have actresses for my next two films. My new obsession is to cast actresses first because I don’t want to be in my films anymore. I want to work with great actresses. I’m sick of myself. But first I’m going to torture myself one more time.
You write such great roles for women, I imagine there’s no shortage of actresses who want to work with you.
Some actresses really want to work with me, which is fantastic. It takes a certain kind of actress to want to work with another actress. It’s a different kind of relationship. I’m going to be very direct and we’ll be in the same boat. So I don’t attract divas, I attract real actresses. Which is great. Divas want to have a man on their knees looking up at them like a goddess.