By the age of 20, luminescent Parisian-born actress Julie Delpy had worked with several of Europe's greatest directors, only to become an accomplished filmmaker herself in the years that followed. The daughter of theater professionals, Delpy worked for the first time with legendary director Jean Luc-Godard in "Détective" (1985) at the age of 14. The young actress later stunned audiences with her performance as a reprehensible Nazi supporter in "Europa, Europa" (1990) and held her own opposite established leading man Sam Shepard in "Voyager" (1991). She was the highlight of director Kryztsztof Kieslowski's "Three Colors" trilogy in its second installment, "White" (1994), and stole the hearts of her leading man Ethan Hawke in her star-making indie film "Before Sunrise" (1996). By the time she and Hawke had returned for the sequel "Before Sunset" (2004), Delpy already had one feature film under her belt as a writer-director-producer-star prior to delivering the romantic dramedy "2 Days in Paris" (2007). Having received nearly unanimous praise for the movie, she continued to wear multiple hats for her follow-up films, "The Countess" (2009) and "2 Days in New York" (2012). Transitioning from stunning ingénue to established leading actress to respected filmmaker, Delpy had managed to both maintain her professional viability and nurture her artistic creativity.
Born on Dec. 21, 1969 in Paris, France, Julie Delpy was the only child of theater director Albert Delpy and actress Marie Pillet. Raised in true Bohemian style, she spent her formative years in the back of theaters watching her parents rehearse or with them attending art gallery exhibits and Bergman film retrospectives. Delpy made her stage debut at age five, appeared onscreen for the first time before she was 10, and penned her first screenplay at age 17. Although she worked on a pair of short films during the ensuing years, her career began in earnest with a small role in French New Wave icon Jean Luc-Godard's crime-comedy, "Détective" (1985). She picked up a more substantial part the next year in Godard disciple Leos Carax's "Mauvais sang" ("Bad Blood") (1986), which was followed by her first starring role in Bertrand Tavernier's Middle Ages drama, "Beatrice" (1987), as the eponymous young girl who is horribly abused by the father she once adored. After reteaming with Godard for her first English-language film, a psychedelic reimagining of "King Lear" (1987), Delpy portrayed an unconventional version of the Virgin Mary in Spanish filmmaker Carlos Saura's "The Dark Night" (1989).
By 1990, Delpy had moved to America, but as her own international reputation continued to rise, she maintained her collaborative relationships with a number of European directors. In Agnieszka Holland's true-life chronicle "Europa, Europa" (1990), she played a beautiful yet ideologically repulsive young German who, in her flirtations with the Jewish protagonist, displays both the blind obstinacy of Nazi youth and the allure of a young girl coming into womanhood. In Volker Schlondorff's "Voyager" (1991) - adapted from Max Frisch's classic German novel, Homo Faber - she encounters Sam Shepard's world-weary engineer onboard a ship sailing to Paris. Their eventual romantic entanglement soon takes on oedipal overtones after Shepard begins to suspect she may be his daughter.
While Delpy's character Dominique appeared in all the segments of influential Polish filmmaker Kryztsztof Kieslowski's "Trois couleurs" ("Three Colors") trilogy, her small roles in "Bleu" ("Blue") (1993) and "Rouge" ("Red") (1994) bookended a compelling bravura performance in "Blanc" ("White") (1994). The haughty, unforgiving and irresistible hairdresser of "White" provided Delpy with an opportunity to portray a truly reprehensible character, divorcing her feckless and impotent Polish hairdresser husband (Zbigniew Zamachowski) only to become the sole focus of his obsession for revenge. Hollywood's first attempt to place the alluring French actress in a mainstream entertainment failed to produce sparks when she was cast in yet another interpretation of Dumas' "The Three Musketeers" (1993) opposite "Brat Pack" heartthrobs Kiefer Sutherland and Charlie Sheen, with Chris O'Donnell as her D'Artagnan. She seemed far more in her element with a foray into Tarantino-esque violence in Roger Avary's feature directing debut "Killing Zoe" (1994). In the decadent, blood-soaked drama, Delpy shone as a good-hearted French prostitute who captures the fancy of unlucky safecracker Eric Stoltz, only to wind up a hostage in a botched bank heist committed by Stoltz's ruthless criminal cohorts.
Building on the intensive summer session she spent studying directing at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts in 1988, Delpy wrote, directed and co-starred in the 12-minute short "Blah, Blah, Blah" (1995). A comical look at two sexually frustrated girls, the short made a strong showing at the 1996 Sundance Film Festival. She then starred as French student Celine opposite Ethan Hawke's American tourist Jesse in Richard Linklater's beloved romance "Before Sunrise" (1996). It was in the dialogue-heavy indie, that American audiences truly recognized her, making her a household name. In her first true horror flick, "An American Werewolf in Paris" (1997), Delpy gamely played a good girl who turns beastly, with or without the influence of the full moon, much to the dismay of a young American tourist (Tom Everett Scott). Known primarily for her film work, some of Delpy's best opportunities in the late-1990s came on the small screen, where she co-starred in the epic miniseries "Crime and Punishment" (NBC, 1998) and essayed American Barbara Branden in the cable biopic "The Passion of Ayn Rand" (Showtime, 1999). That same year, Delpy took a shot at regular series television opposite Adam Goldberg in the NYC-set romantic sitcom, "True Love" (ABC, 1999), a project that never aired.
Delpy and Hawke briefly reprised their "Before Sunrise" roles for Linklater with a cameo in the director's dreamlike "Waking Life" (2001), while Delpy also starred opposite Steven Berkoff in the British drama, "Beginner's Luck" (2001). Also that year, she returned to U.S. television with a recurring character role as a troubled nurses' aide on the hugely popular medical drama "ER" (NBC, 1994-2009) for several episodes. With the opening of Paris' Walt Disney Studios Park in 2002, Delpy was seen alongside comic actor Martin Short in the short fantasy film, "CinéMagique," which played continuously for visitors. She also made her debut as a feature director that year with the release of "Looking for Jimmy" (2002), a film she also wrote and produced. An accomplished musician as well, she released her self-titled album Julie Delpy in 2003. Much to the delight "Before Sunrise" fans, Delpy, Hawke and Linklater reunited the characters of Celine and Jesse once more for the sequel, "Before Sunset" (2004). Set nine years after the events of the first film, it found the pair reconnecting at a Paris bookstore. As a co-writer along with Linklater, Hawke and Kim Krizan, Delpy received an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. That same year Delpy appeared as Caroline Frankenstein, the loving mother of the mad doctor (Alec Newman) in the TV miniseries "Frankenstein" (Hallmark Channel, 2004).
Working in less melodramatic territory, Delpy played the latest girlfriend in a string of failed romances for ageing lothario Bill Murray in indie director Jim Jarmusch's comedic mystery "Broken Flowers" (2005). In more traditional genre fare, she starred with Justin Theroux in the supernatural mystery, "The Legend of Lucy Keyes" (2006) then played singer-actress Nina Van Pallandt in director Lasse Hallström's "Hoax" (2007), a speculative recounting of disgraced author Clifford Irving's (Richard Gere) faked autobiography of eccentric millionaire Howard Hughes. Despite the fact that their TV venture had failed to take flight, Delpy - as writer, director and co-star - reteamed with Goldberg for her film "2 Days in Paris" (2007), a romantic-comedy favorably compared to the works of Woody Allen by many critics. Once again as writer-director-star, Delpy played the murderous, youth-obsessed Erzebet Bathory in the macabre historical biopic "The Countess" (2009). Clearly enjoying the role of cinema auteur, she co-wrote, directed and reprised her role from "2 Days in Paris" for the sequel, "2 Days in New York" (2012), this time alongside Chris Rock as her Big Apple boyfriend.
By Bryce Coleman
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Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Made stage debut at age five acting with her parents
Feature film acting debut in "Guerres civiles en France"
Met Jean-Luc Godard at age fourteen; cast as 'the wise young girl' in his "Détective"
First starring role as title character of feature film, "Beatrice/La Passion Beatrice," directed by Bertrand Tavernier
Made English-language debut in Godard's "King Lear"
Portrayed a nun, the Virgin Mary and a temptress in Carlos Saura's "The Dark Night"
Moved to NYC
Played bewitching Nazi sympathizer in Agnieska Holland's acclaimed "Europa, Europa"
Starred opposite Sam Shepard in Volker Schlondorff's "Voyager"
Played the lead in "White," the second film of Krzysztof Kieslowski Three Colors Trilogy; also had smaller roles in "Red" and "Blue"
Landed first Hollywood feature role, playing the love interest of Chris O'Donnell's D'Artagnan in "The Three Musketeers"
Played a Parisian prostitute hired by Eric Stoltz in "Killing Zoe," directed by Roger Avary
Directed and wrote 12-minute comedy short "Blah, Blah, Blah"; also co-starred; shown at 1996 Sundance Film Festival
Starred opposite Ethan Hawke in Richard Linklater's romantic drama "Before Sunrise"
Portrayed a lycanthropy victim in "An American Werewolf in Paris"
Co-starred on the NBC miniseries "Crime and Punishment"
Starred opposite Adam Goldberg in ABC pilot "True Love"
Cast as American Barbara Branden, the wife of Rand's younger lover in the Showtime TV-movie "The Passion of Ayn Rand"; film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival
Landed recurring guest role on the NBC drama "ER"
Co-wrote, directed, edited, and produced the indie "Looking for Jimmy"
Reunited with director Linklater and co-star Hawke for "Before Sunset"; sequel followed Jesse (Hawke) and Celine (Delpy) who are reunited nine years after they first met; also co-wrote screenplay; received Oscar and Independent Spirit Award nominations for Best Screenplay
Played Richard Gere's mistress in Lasse Hallstrom's drama "The Hoax"
Directed, wrote, and co-starred in "2 Days in Paris," a romantic comedy set over a 48-hour period in the City of Light; earned an Independent Spirit Award Nomination for Best First Feature
Wrote, directed, and starred in biographical drama "The Countess"
Reprised role of Marion in "2 Days in New York"; also directed and co-wrote screenplay
Reprised Celine role in Linklater's "Before Midnight" opposite Hawke; also co-wrote the screenplay
Had a minor role in "Avengers: Age of Ultron"
Cast as Dina in the drama "Wiener-Dog"
Co-starred with J.K. Simmons in comedy drama "The Bachelors"