Julie & Julia (more photos, videos)
What is Julie & Julia the movie about and what motivated you to do this movie?
It′s about love, it′s about marriage, it′s about changing your life. I′m obsessed with food, but there were at least eight other reasons why I had to do it, like doing things you care about and finding happiness through that.
As soon as I heard the idea, I thought, Oh, I have to do that. In 1962 or so, when I first moved to New York, everybody was buying a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking it was a way of saying you were intelligent and therefore you were going to cook in a way that a smart person was going to cook. So Julia Child became an imaginary friend for me and for the millions of women who bought this cookbook, and, years later, I think the same thing was true for Julie Powell.
What is common between the two stories that were used for making this movie?
Both stories were going to be about marriage and food, two things that certainly go together in most people′s lives. When you′re in the romantic comedy business, the movie ends when people say ‘Will you marry me?’ It′s very rare to find something about what happens next, where you′ve got two equally smart people in a relationship, who adore each other. It′s one of the reasons I think Meryl was completely drawn to the movie.
How did you decide on the two actresses Meryl Streep and Amy Adams for the movie?
I was inspired to cast Streep after running into her at a Shakespeare in the Park performance. Streep asked me, what I was working on, and I replied, and Streep immediately went into her Child impression: “Bon Apptit!” Before it even began, the casting search was over.
When it came to casting Julie Powell, I wanted an actress who could embody a young woman′s insecurities and emotional blow-ups. I knew Amy Adams was up to the task, but she also met another major requirement. Among the many things I liked about her was that I believed that she was smart enough to be a writer, and she′s funny.
With such a delectable subject as French cuisine, the movie required lot of food preparation in terms of quality and authenticity. How did you manage that?
We hired the services of culinary consultant Susan Spungen and executive chef Colin Flynn, both of whom brought years of experience in restaurant work and food journalism to this unusual temporary job. What really impressed me about Spungen′s work was that they had to pull off a form of character-based cooking. In other words, the meals shouldn′t signal to the audience that a trained chef was at hand. Susan′s a genius, because she made sure the food in the movie looked like a normal person made it.
What do you think really unites the two leading characters in the movie?
Passion unites each of these leading characters through their toughest times and their most triumphant moments, leaving the taste of fulfillment the sweetest one of all. Both women had setbacks, both decided to do something very hard, and both succeeded.