If you are a 14-year-old boy, Hollywood has your summer all mapped out for you. For everyone else, the multiplex can be a loud and lonely place. Thankfully, on May 24 director Richard Linklater reunites Ethan Hawke, 42, and Julie Delpy, 43, in Before Midnight — the third installment in the cultishly adored series chronicling the talky romance of transcontinental art-house couple Jesse and Celine. It’s been 18 years since they first met on a train bound for Vienna in 1995’s Before Sunrise, and nine since they reconnected in Paris in 2004’s Before Sunset.
Now, nine more years down the road, the two have finally ended up where we always hoped they’d be: together. But in the beautiful and emotionally brutal Before Midnight, Jesse and Celine discover that happily-ever-after only exists in movies…and not the one they’re in. We sat down with co-writing costars Hawke and Delpy to talk about navigating relationships, going braless, and just how much of their offscreen lives goes into what has become one of cinema’s best — and most unlikely — summer franchises.
Before Midnight comes out alongside these big, expensive summer movies. But since this is the third film in the series, you’re technically a summer franchise now too.
JULIE DELPY I think we come out the same day as The Hangover III!
ETHAN HAWKE We may be the least-grossing trilogy of all time. When Before Sunrise came out, people didn’t know what the hell it was. And it didn’t make much money. But over time it found its audience. We loved working on it and we always felt really proud of it, but when we made the second one, Before Sunset, not very many people were interested in it. It was difficult for us to get that movie made.
DELPY The people that were representing me, they were horrified. They thought I was crazy. ”You’re making a sequel to what?”
HAWKE That’s not why they thought she was crazy. [Laughs]
Why do you think these films resonate with people?
DELPY With some people. We try to do them with as much truth in the writing and the performances as possible. We try to make it feel like it’s not a movie, it’s life. Most romantic films are so formula — they have complications, then they end up getting married, that’s it.
HAWKE As much as some people like these movies — and we’re happy about that — a lot of people don’t want to go see a movie where all the characters do is talk. I think these movies are a little different because I can’t think of any others where the coleads are the coauthors. And by virtue of doing that, you’re creating a movie that’s a little genderless. It’s not like a Nora Ephron comedy or a Judd Apatow comedy. It doesn’t have a male or female agenda.
DELPY It’s funny — look at the movies that make money. If you look at a movie like Bridesmaids, which is a good film, she has sex with a bra on with Jon Hamm. I mean, have you ever had sex with a bra on? Never!