I recently got the chance to talk to Darlene Violette about her role in Julie Delpy’s new film, ‘2 Days In New York’. Here, Darlene talks about what it was like working with the cast and crew on-set and what made her get into acting in the first place…
Hey Darlene. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me about your new film, ‘2 Days In New York’.
Hi Matt, it’s my pleasure. Thank you so much for inviting me to discuss the film.
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
It’s a sequel to ‘Two Days in Paris’, which happens to be one of my favourite films. In ‘Two Days In New York’, Marion (played by Julie Delpy) a neurotic artist/photographer is living with her radio host boyfriend Mingus (played by Chris Rock) with their two children from previous relationships in their Manhattan apartment. (There is a strong Woody Allen influence here.) When Marion’s eccentric French family, her father, sister and sister’s boyfriend – (who also happens to be Marion’s ex) visit for two days their lives are turned upside by clash of culture, language misunderstandings and the complications and challenges of family.
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
I play a Customs Officer in the JFK Airport who interrogates Jeannot – (Marion’s father, who also happens to be Julie Delpy’s real life father) and Manu – (Marion’s sister’s boyfriend) when they first arrive in New York. It’s the first time in the movie that we meet “The French Family” and they have their first “New York experience”. It sets ups the culture clash and misunderstandings that we are about to see escalate throughout the rest of the movie. I see my character as possessing all the qualities that one thinks of when envisioning a New York customs official: intimidating, serious, also a real New Yorker sort of no-nonsense, has seen it all and not easily swayed or amused.
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
My manager Ingrid French got me an audition and I went in and read for the casting director and was then called back to read for Julie Delpy.
How would you say this film is different and unique?
The film takes the time to explore characters and relationships in both a very real and honest way while still being very funny and entertaining. Not an easy thing to do I promise you. Chris Rock plays the straight man in the film ironically, which I think is brilliant casting. This film maintains a high level of artistic integrity, it is smart, quirky, funny, honest and again takes it’s time to develop story and character. I think it will satisfy the indie film crowd and the mainstream audience alike.
The film stars Chris Rock, Julie Delpy, Albert Delpy, Alexia Landeau, Alexandre Nahon and Kate Burton – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set? Any good anecdotes?
I got to act with Albert Delpy (Jeannot) and Alexandre Nahon (Manu) and was directed by Julie Delpy. As I mentioned I am a huge fan of ‘Two Days In Paris’. I kind of fell in love with Albert Delpy’s performance. So when I got to work with him I was a little star struck. Fortunately for him he does not speak English and I do not speak French so he wasn’t subjected to me gushing on an on about how amazing I think he was in the movie. I just kind of stared at him and smiled at him a lot which may have made him think I was a little bit strange. It was a wonderful experience, they are fine actors both and Julie Delpy is a great director because she is an actor she can communicate really well with actors in a very creative, fun way and still get what she needs as the filmmaker.
Let’s talk a bit about you Darlene. What made you want to get into the industry in the first place?
I’ve wanted to be an actor since I was eight years old. I remember watching ‘The Carroll Burnett Show’ and saying to my mother “That’s what I am going to do”. To which she replied, “I thought you were going to be a veterinarian?”. To which I replied “No, but I might play a veterinarian!”. She still asks me if I don’t want to change my mind and become a veterinarian. You got to admire her stick-to-itiveness.
You’ve had a number of roles in different films and TV series – which actors have been your favourites to work with so far and why? Any good stories?
I’m very lucky to have worked with several people who I have tremendous admiration and respect for. I got to work with Kate Winslet in ‘Mildred Pierce’. That was pretty thrilling. I learned a lot watching her work. I got to work with Tina Fey on ’30 Rock’, Denis Leary on ‘Rescue Me’, Ralph Macchio on ‘Ugly Betty’, Michael Imperioli in ‘The Hungry Ghosts’ directed me and most recently I worked with Louie C.K. on his TV show on FX – ‘Louie’.
In terms of stories, I had to throw a sandwich at Kate Winslet on ‘Mildred Pierce’. It was in the original script but when we tried to shoot the scene it just didn’t play. Lesson learned you don’t throw sandwiches at Kate Winslet.
If you were stranded on a desert island, which three ‘personal’ things could you not live without?
My husband Brian, my dog Sparkles and my sunglasses (prescription so I can see.)
If you could have dinner with three guests – (living or dead), who would you choose and why?
Jesus Christ, Benjamin Franklin and Mae West.
- Jesus Christ could answer all of my questions about everything and put my mind and my soul at ease and make me feel completely forgiven and loved.
- Benjamin Franklin – I would love to hear what he would have to say about what he thinks about what we’ve done with our country so far and any advise he might have on what we might want to focus on for our future.
- Mae West – I want to play her in a movie, TV show and play and would love to be in her presence. I think her self-confidence and self-love was phenomenal and would love to try to find a way to get myself some.
What is your favourite holiday destination and why?
Two places I love to go are Philadelphia and the seaside. I love American history and I grew up near Cape Cod in Massachusetts so I love to be by the ocean.
What is your favourite word?
What’s coming up for you in 2012?
I will be appearing in a couple of episodes of ‘Louie’ on FX. I just finished working on the movie ‘El Cielo Ez Auzl’ playing a veterinarians’ assistant/wife – (almost fulfilling my mother’s wish for my life) and will be shooting a small part in the indie film ‘Beach Pillows’ in June.
Thanks for the interview!