Profile: Richard Linklater - director of Before Midnight
As his fifteenth feature Before Midnight hits the screens, James Mottram profiles Richard Linklater
30 July, 1960, Houston
Bursting onto screens with 1990’s self-distributed Sundance hit Slacker, Linklater swiftly became as synonymous with the then-blossoming US indie scene as Soderbergh, Tarantino and fellow Austin-ite Robert Rodriguez. Establishing his cult credentials with his high school sophomore comedy Dazed and Confused, he’s since effortlessly shifted between genre films (The Newton Boys), experimental anime (Waking Life) and adaptations (Fast Food Nation) - or, in the case of the underrated A Scanner Darkly, merged all three. Despite one $131m-grossing studio hit (School of Rock), he’s not defined by box office. ‘My definition of success,’ he says, ‘is getting to make as many films as possible that mean a lot to you.’
What is he up to now?
His fifteenth feature is Before Midnight, the long-awaited follow-up to 1995’s Before Sunrise and 2004’s Oscar-nominated Before Sunset. Again co-written with his stars Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, they return as Jesse and Celine - no longer wistful, would-be lovers but a long-term couple with twin daughters.
On Before Midnight’s difference to its predecessors
‘We couldn’t do the same thing again - brief interactions. That worked for the first two films, but in this one we chose to take on the notion of the real world. Although they’re on vacation [in Greece] we’re going to deal with their real life. We see them interacting with people - children, friends, each other. So it’s more grounded in the real world.’
On choosing Greece as the setting
‘I just felt it - ‘Oh, this is the place.’ I remember e-mailing some pictures to Ethan and Julie and that’s when it started to feel real. Julie was sceptical. She was much more paranoid - like if you watch the news, ‘Oh, it’s up in flames! I can’t take my child there, we will die.’ She’s more paranoid than Ethan and I. We worked a little bit of that into the movie, her apprehension.’
On Hawke and Delpy’s proximity to their characters
‘Jesse and Céline are constructs; they’re not them. But there’s something about them that runs parallel - to all of us. I’m in both of them. I feel equally in Jesse and Céline. And I think they would start to say that about each other too. I don’t think Julie would say she’s Céline. They write so much stuff for the other character.’
On Before Midnight’s love scene
‘Julie said, even years ago, ‘If we’re ever going to have a sex scene, we better do it soon!’ Then we talked about it, and she said, ‘Well, my tits are still good!’ So it was like ‘OK!’’
Linklater’s first well-paid job was working on an oil rig for two-and-a-half years.
Before Midnight is on release from Fri 21 June.