After Julie Delpy carefully slides the hem of her black dress just over the knee, her co-star Chris Rock playfully slides it back an inch.
The two obviously share an ease with one another after having played a couple in Delpy's new film, "2 Days in New York." It's a sequel to her acclaimed 2007 film, "2 Days in Paris," in which Adam Goldberg played the American boyfriend of Delpy's Parisian character, a photographer named Marion.
She's now shifted the story across the Atlantic and later a few years. Marion lives with radio talk show host Mingus (Rock) and their children. But when Marion's family comes to visit from Paris (including her mischievous father, played by Delpy's real father, Albert Delpy), the farce of Franco-American culture clash resumes.
It's the third feature directed by Delpy, the actress of Kryzsztof Kieslowski's "Three Colors" trilogy and "Before Sunrise." (She also co-wrote it with Alexia Landeau.) For Rock, it's another unlikely French connection, following his 2007 remake of an Eric Rohmer film in "I Think I Love My Wife."
They sat down for an interview ahead of the film's Tribeca Film Festival premiere to discuss "2 Days in New York," which opens in theaters August 10.
AP: How did you two get together for this?
Delpy: I was a hooker.
Rock: Innocent enough!
Delpy: When I started writing a sequel to the film, I thought of Chris right away. I've always loved his standup work and I've always loved his work.
Rock: Love her as an actress, love her as a director, thought she was hot. You got to kind of want to f--- people you work with. (Both laugh) It's always a little better if you're a little attracted.
Delpy: You like Adam Sandler? Is he your type? ... I thought you liked my talent as an auteur!
AP: You've both have carved filmmaking careers outside of what you're best known for, whether stand-up or acting.
Delpy: He directed a film that I saw that I really liked ("I Think I Love My Wife"). To me, it's interesting to work with someone _ even outside of his great talent as a stand-up and stuff _ that he has other poles of interest. I do relate to that. Yes, I could just be acting, which is a horrible life, by the way. Just waiting for a part. When I was 16, I wrote my first screenplay. Of course, it took me years to make my first film.
AP: Chris, aside from stand-up, you've been acting on Broadway ("Motherf----- With the Hat"), directing (the documentary "Good Hair") and producing (the TV show "Everybody Hates Chris"). How do you compartmentalize the various projects?
Rock: Everything falls under comedy. It's not like I'm doing a funny movie and then going to paint. In a weird way, they're all related. With all of them, eventually I'm going to have to figure out what the f--- is funny about this. If I'm on Broadway or I'm doing a documentary about hair, it's like: What the hell is funny? How do I get to the funny here?
AP: How scripted was this film? Both of the "2 Days" movies have a naturalistic feel of controlled chaos.
Delpy: It's pretty scripted. But I hate when people say a line and they feel it's not their line, so I'll go rewrite a scene if I need to, ten minutes before. I hate when it feels acted. I hate to see the performance acting _ when you see the actor acting. I don't like that kind of acting. That's why I loved (Robert) Altman so much.
AP: These two films made me think of him.
Delpy: Altman is like my top, one of my favorite directors. It seems painless, flawless.
Rock: I was supposed to be in his last one. (Delpy gasps) "Hands on a Hard Body." We were talking a lot, working on this character and he died. That's the story of my career. I always meet the head of the studio the day before he gets fired.
AP: Is it chaotic creating that Altman-esque atmosphere, especially being both in front of the camera and behind?
Delpy: Not at all. It's sometimes chaotic in the pace because I'm very quick in shooting. I push people around a little bit. Obviously when you're filming, you can't have people talking on top of each other because you can't edit it. So basically you shoot one part and then you shoot another part and then you make it feel like it's all messy and chaotic. It's kind of like a choreography.
AP: Both of these films are largely about the trials of loving someone. It reminds me, Chris, of your great stand-up line: "You're either married and bored or single and lonely. Ain't no happiness nowhere."
Rock: It's pretty much what life boils down to.
Delpy: It's so depressing. (Both laugh) Life is miserable.
Rock: If you're paying attention.