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Richard Linklater Answers All of Your Before Midnight Questions

Richard Linklater, at a special NYC Screening of
Richard Linklater. Photo: Eugene Mim/

Director Richard Linklater made his mark with films like Slacker, Dazed and Confused, and School of Rock, and he was at Soho’s Merc Bar last night to celebrate his Oscar hopeful Bernie, starring Jack Black. Still, when we caught up with Linklater at the party, we couldn’t help but grill him about Before Midnight, the threequel to Before Sunrise that he shot on the down low with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy this past summer. Here’s what we learned:

I understand you just finished Before Midnight?
Yeah, I just got back from Greece.

The shoot was really under the radar.
We didn’t really announce it, but it wasn’t really that conscious. We hadn’t arranged all the financing. We sort of had a window and were like, Okay, let’s go for it this summer.

What was it like reconnecting with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy?
Always incredible. It’s a different stage of life. They’re in their 40s now; there’s complexity. It was the right time. I’m really excited about it.

How do you decide when the time is right to revisit these characters?
We spent all the years not thinking about it because it seemed too soon, and then we realized something was stirring in all of us, enough time has gone on, enough life has been lived. And I’m almost a decade older than both of them! I see them going through things in their lives, and I’ve kind of been through some of that in mine. I kind of gauge where they’re at, and then we just all get together.

How did you pick Greece?
Like the others, it could have been anywhere. But there’s something I like about the ancient qualities of Greece. It’s so old, it kind of resonates just by being there, in a way. There’s nothing we can experience or think about that the Greeks didn’t already deal with, because anything to do with the human psyche, the human experience, it has been philosophized about. To be somewhere that predates Christianity … I met a woman who was like, “Yeah, a month ago, I dug up a coin that was 3,000 years old.” It’s like, Wow, what is that like to have that kind of connection?

How does developing the characters work at this phase of their lives?
The first is obviously about two people around age 23. The next is early 30s. This is early 40s. These characters aren’t Ethan and Julie by any means, but we all have that general perspective of what is going on in our lives.

Do you think we have trouble staying with the person we’re supposed to be with?
In real life? No, I don’t think so.

But isn’t that part of the theme at hand in these films?
It certainly was in the first two. But we end up tying that up, in a way. Certainly, whatever loose ends exist in the second film will fully be answered in the third.

What do you think people like so much about these characters?
I don’t know. We have always striven for a certain honesty, a hard-earned romance. There are movie romances, and then there are the romances we all have, maybe if we’re lucky, in our own lives. From the very beginning, that’s what I wanted. Most people don’t really kiss in the first six minutes of a movie.

Any sense of when the movie might be ready?
I would think we would be potentially showing it early next year.

Possibly. It depends who’s distributing it. We don’t have a distributor yet.

Will people demand a fourth?
I don’t know. It’s hard to say how people will respond to this, and that’s the farthest thing from my mind. After the second, I didn’t know anyone would want a third!

But everyone loves these movies.
I know. It made us almost not want to do it! It was like, Oh God, there were only three people in the world that wanted a second one, now everyone wants a third one. That almost kept us from doing it. I know for sure that people who like the first two, who are invested in those characters, will totally get something from the movie. This is for them.

Richard Linklater Dishes on Before Midnight