quarantine diary

Julia Fox Is Rewatching Thirteen and Kalifornia in Quarantine

Julia Fox in Uncut Gems. Photo: A24

“I’ve literally been staying up all night long now,” says Julia Fox at 4:30 p.m., which is the earliest she would agree to get on the phone with me — or anyone. She’d just gotten out of bed at 4. The star of Uncut Gems has been sheltering in place with her husband Peter Artemiev in the East Village and for social-distance-appropriate cardio they go running “in the middle of the night,” she says. “There’s nobody out and it’s a little bit scary, but I’m with Peter and he’s also a little scary.” She laughs.

Like all of us, she’s making the best of a situation she never thought she’d be in. “I was thinking about how much I’m going to miss quarantine,” she says. At least it’s slowed her life down to allow her to take a closer look at what matters most. “My husband and I were on the outs and now we’re having the best time ever, just watching all these movies.” She’s been recommending them to her fans on her Instagram Stories — posting the trailers, and sometimes some brief commentary. I was calling to ask her to fill out the Fox syllabus a bit more, which is (so far) 20 films long, “I have gotten sucked into this nostalgia bubble from the 1990s and early 2000s, the movies which made me who I am,” she says. “You can watch a movie now but it doesn’t affect you the same way. Like, if you are watching Riding in Cars With Boys, you are picking things up like a sponge: Am I going to be more like Drew Barrymore or Brittany Murphy when I get older?”

Fox grew up on the Upper East Side, close by the daddy’s AmEx ennui of the private-school kids, although she was a public-school kid herself. “I grew up above a video store,” she says — not a Blockbuster, but one of those neighborhood rental joints which the city used to be peppered with before Netflix bankrupted them all. “My dad had an account with them and … he was very busy and had his own life. So I just would watch movies nonstop. I would watch some movies, like The Virgin Suicides, 100 times.” She’d just pick things off the new releases shelf. Maybe unsurprisingly, given that she ended up working for a time as a dominatrix and her character in Uncut Gems was based in many ways on her, “A lot of the times it was totally content inappropriate for me. But nobody was watching me.” Or what she was watching.

On her way to do her own laundry, she ran through the list with me. “I am going to add Wild Things which I just watched last night: such a good movie.”

1. White Oleander (2002)

Michelle Pfeiffer and Alison Lohman in White Oleander. Photo: Warner Bros.

“I would rent this movie every single day. Michelle Pfeiffer ends up killing a man and [her 15-year-old daughter Astrid, played by Alison Lohman] ends up living in a series of very different foster homes. I used to wish I was an orphan so I could do this. That seemed like the ultimate artistic performance … she’s with an abusive Bible thumping family … and then she gets taken in by a Russian whore. This girl’s journey from place to place.”

2. Thirteen (2003)

“This one was big. It came out when I was 12. It was playing in my living room and my dad kind of got a glimpse of her getting a tongue pierced and joked, ‘This could be you, you should do the remake but call it 12.’ Being this age is no joke. I was a total nightmare. You really go from being a little girl to grown fucking woman overnight. This does such a good job of conveying that experience. Girls lose our minds. We get so mean you go from being best friends to ‘I hate you and I want to make sure everybody hates you too.’ I am fully traumatized by being 13.”

3. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002)

“Drew Barrymore is so cute in it. And Sam Rockwell is so great. Honestly you should do a Sam Rockwell movie festival.”

4. Cruel Intentions (1999)

“It’s just the sexiest. I feel like that image of Sarah Michelle Gellar with a crucifix which is a coke spoon … it was like the Upper East Side private-school kids I grew up around. It’s such an incestuous little bubble, the Upper East Side.”

5. Bully (2001)

Photo: Lions Gate Films

“I like it more than I like Kids. When I saw bully and I was 11 or 12 years old I thought I could do this; I could make movies. Larry Clark’s cinematography is very raw. It’s also based on a true story. I think a lot of the movies I like are based on true stories.”

6. Spun (2002)

“It’s about these tweakers and Brittany Murphy is in it and I am obsessed with her. It’s about drugs and when you watch it, you feel like you are on drugs. You feel like you’re hanging around with a bunch of tweakers. There is this — Mickey Rourke has this monologue. And there are some angry lesbians in it and so it has a bit of everything.”

7. Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

“That’s also based on a true story. I love Matthew McConaughey. I love the person that then he becomes; it’s a coming of age story. Plus, he’s such a smart businessman, he doesn’t sell the drugs he sells the membership.”

8. Almost Famous (2000)

Kate Hudson in Almost Famous. Photo: DreamWorks Pictures

“When this came out I wanted to be Penny Lane. She was so glamorous and it was so rock and roll.”

9. Jawbreaker (1999)

“Oh my God I remember always having a jawbreaker in my mouth in like fifth or sixth grade. And then that movie came out. And then Rose McGowan was such an icon.”

10. Running With Scissors (2003)

“I love this movie and I love this book and I love that this was a true story. He claims that nothing was embellished. And I did some research and it was totally true. You can’t make this shit up.”

11. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

“My best friend growing up, her mother was a really bad alcoholic and so we would run away. We would have to go find places to sleep because we couldn’t go to my house because though I was allowed to do what I want, her mother would look for her there first. So we went to the 24-hour movie theater and I remember watching the trailer there … [and] we’ve all wanted to erase someone, right?”

12. Magnolia (1999)

Tom Cruise in Magnolia. Photo: New Line Cinema

“This is my favorite movie of Paul Thomas Anderson’s. I love how each action of each character affects the other like dominos. Tom Cruise’s character is so awful. It’s very real you know? And the father molesting the daughter … the ’90s where just such an amazing time for movies. There was more money in movies and you could get away with things.”

13. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

“Probably my second-favorite movie of all time. Abigail Breslin is so good and her relationship to her grandfather (Alan Arkin) is so great. Nobody pays attention to her in her family. Nobody knows what she is up to with him. It’s a triumphant movie about a sad family dad obsessed with not being a loser and he is a loser. And how they all come together.”

14. Kalifornia (1993)

“I love a hillbilly and Brad Pitt fantasy moment. And I love serial-killer movies.”

15. Wind River (2017)

Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen in Wind River. Photo: The Weinstein Company

“This movie is so eye opening to what life on the reservation is like. It’s heartbreaking. I’ve seen it so many times with the purpose to watch it again to show somebody. I spent a lot of time on this one Navajo reservation in Arizona. I was driving around and I found myself on it, and I picked up a few hitchhikers. And one in particular took me to meet his mother. She’s a school teacher, They are not being provided proper government services. Their roads aren’t even paved and they don’t have school supplies. I speak to her on a weekly basis.” [Also, her friend Kelsey Asbille is in it.]

16. I Love You Phillip Morris (2009)

“That was a masterpiece. I love Jim Carrey. And I love true stories and this was based on a true story. You can’t make this kind of shit up. You can’t imagine the sort of things which happen to people.”

17. Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion (1997)

“I watched this with my best friend. We were totally codependent and loved each other. It turns out my dad was having an affair with her mom and we would have family sleepovers. And we swore we would be like Romy and Michele. And at 18 we got an apartment together … I am who I am because of this movie.”

18. Adaptation (2002)

“Probably my favorite movie. I love the evolution of the movie itself: article to book to movie. I love Nick Cage and Meryl Streep. Love love love.” Plus there are “fun facts about flowers.”

19. Natural Born Killers (1994)

“I loved the soundtrack and fashion of Natural Born Killers. I love a Bonnie and Clyde moment and a psycho-killer moment. This really checks all the boxes. And depending on where you are in your life you pay attention to new things.”

20. Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999)

Allison Janney and Kirsten Dunst in Drop Dead Gorgeous. Photo: New Line Cinema

“It’s just such a good fucking movie and I love Midwestern accents.”

Julia Fox Is Watching Thirteen and Kalifornia in Quarantine