true stories

The History of Before Sunrise’s Tragic Real-Life Inspiration

Over on Slate, you can read a terrifically thorough explanation of the real-life inspiration for Before Sunrise: a woman named Amy Lehrhaupt. It appears director Richard Linklater’s brief romance with Lehrhaupt gave him the idea for the movie. The two met at a toy store in 1989, when Linklater was visiting family in Philadelphia. They went on to spend the whole night together, walking and talking. Unlike Before Sunrise, however, they tried to keep in touch, exchanging phone numbers, but the sparks fizzled and they fell out of contact. Linklater thought maybe she’d show up to a screening of Before Sunrise, but she never did. It was only three years ago that Linklater learned why: Amy Lehrhaupt died in a motorcycle accident at age 24 on May 9, 1994, less than a month before Before Sunrise began shooting. It is why, if you wait through the end credits of Before Midnight, you’ll see a dedication to her. He told the Times: “If she never existed, these films wouldn’t have been made.”

Before Sunrise’s Tragic Real-Life Inspiration