“I think you have to do something strong if people are used to seeing you be funny,” he said.
(It’s a gag that shouldn’t work – the guy whose cool imaginary friend is the president – but is somehow hilarious.) The film’s principal source of comedy is the maelstrom of cultural misunderstanding that ensues when Marion’s father (played again by Albert Delpy, her real father and a veteran French stage actor), her compulsively flirtatious sister (Alexia Landeau) and her sister’s wannabe-black boyfriend (Alexandre Nahon) all descend upon Marion and Mingus’ modest Manhattan apartment.
Delpy, who co-wrote the screenplay with Landeau and Nahon, specializes in an awkward, almost abrasive comedy that pushes her characters and the central relationship to the edge of collapse, before pulling back for the requisite happy ending.
I met Delpy and Rock in the back room of a cafe in Park City, Utah, the day after the Sundance premiere of “2 Days in New York.” In an earlier conversation outside, Rock emphasized that he’s eager to push onward from this into dramatic roles.
Delpy seems jumpy and overcaffeinated, constantly in motion; she talks a blue streak, laughs at her own jokes, half-seriously accuses me of sexism. [Laughter.]So, Julie, why is Chris’ character named Mingus? D.: Well, first of all it’s to honor Charles Mingus, obviously.
In fact, she describes herself as “panicky and neurotic,” and “a little bit nuts.” (Oh, and just to be clear: Despite what you may read below, Rock and Delpy are not a couple in real life.)Fans of Delpy’s zany 2007 relationship comedy “2 Days in Paris” will already have a good idea what to expect here, but it really doesn’t matter whether you’ve seen the earlier movie.
Jack, the American boyfriend played by Adam Goldberg in that film, has evidently moved on (leaving behind a young son), and Delpy’s character, a somewhat unhinged conceptual artist named Marion, is now shacking up with a Village Voice journalist and radio host named Mingus, who has a daughter of his own. D.: It’s just that when you’re a woman filmmaker, people always think the guys have written their own dialogue. R.: Right, and when it’s a comedy people always think the best stuff is ad-libbed. (Rock says the character is based on the prominent African-American journalists Nelson George and Elvis Mitchell, both friends of his. Chris Rock and Julie Delpy make a striking couple – and I’m not talking about what you might think I’m talking about. The fact that their characters are of different races isn’t presented as a huge deal in Delpy’s new film “2 Days in New York,” and as they both said in our conversation, it increasingly isn’t such a big deal in the real world either. D.: It tells you something about his parents: They were cool New York people, they were into jazz. Whether sitting next to each other on a sofa at the Sundance Film Festival or playing a squabbling married couple on-screen, their modes of being in the world could hardly be more different. And then, of course, it rhymes with “cunnilingus.”In both languages! (An earlier version of this interview was published from Sundance.)Rock is a cool, laconic, thoughtful character, a man of few words who takes the time to ponder things before reacting. R.: Probably because the best stuff in comedy always ad-libbed.