“Before Midnight” is the third film in a Richard Linklater-directed series that takes place nine years apart from each other. In 1995’s “Before Sunrise,” two travelers named Jesse and Celine (played by Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy) meet in Vienna and fall for each other after their first night together, but then they go their separate ways. In 2004’s “Before Sunset,” Jesse and Celine meet up again in Paris after years of leading separate lives, but they are both romantically involved with other people at the time of the reunion in Paris.
In 2013’s “Before Midnight,” Celine and Jesse are a long-term couple living in Paris and vacationing in Greece with their twin daughters, while Jesse has parental guilt over his divorce and teenage son, who lives in America with Jesse’s ex-wife. During “Before Midnight,” Jesse and Celine talk about the highs and lows of their relationship in a wide range of emotions. Here is what Hawke, Delpy, and Linklater said at a 2013 Berlin Film Festival press conference for the movie.
What do you find attractive about the Jesse and Celine characters after all these years? And to Ethan: Was it our idea to reference “A Winter’s Tale” in “Before Midnight”?
Hawke: We didn’t just do “A Winter’s Tale” at “The Cherry Orchard” at the Old Vic. We also did it in Greece, and so it was a little homage to that experience and part of what made me love Greece. In “Before Sunset,” we were finishing the movie, and I was going to do a play called “Henry IV.” It was a little continuation of weird, personal homages. But it’s just nonsensical, and there’s no meaning behind.
In regards to revisiting the characters, that’s part of the weird privilege of this opportunity. As an actor to not only revisit a character that you’ve played before but one that you helped co-write is just a really unique opportunity. Even with your question, in a weird way, “A Winter’s Tale” and “Henry IV” are little time-capsule things that are personal to me to remember that moment in time that we made the movie.
Linklater: We created these characters 18 years ago, and we realize they’re still kind of alive in us, every six years or so, when we start thinking about maybe they have something to express about where they are in their lives. I think that not only do we have a long-term relationship now with each other, but Jesse and Celine have a long-term relationship. So we have our own long-term creative relationship, which is really fun, really rewarding.
Delpy: Yeah, revisiting these characters, I think we always try to … They’re in the present, even though the stories evolve in time, so there’s an element of time, in our lives as well, which is really unusual for actors and writers to revisit — and directors and anyone, really, involved in any project. But each segment is in the moment, but within this period of time of 18 years. It’s kind of special to do that as actors or writers.
For more info: “Before Midnight” website