Nora Ephron on Julie & Julia

By Ratha Tep Posted July 17, 2009

© 2008 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All rights reserved.
Meryl Streep as "Julia Child" in Columbia Pictures' Julie & Julia. Photo by Jonathan Wenk.

Who better to adapt two heartfelt, moving memoirs on food and its enormous powers to delight, inspire and transform—Julie Powell's Julie & Julia and My Life in France, by Julia Child with Alex Prud'homme—than Academy Award-nominated writer-director-producer Nora Ephron? While in her twenties in New York, she, like Powell, cooked through Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, though Ephron estimates in her book, I Feel Bad About My Neck, that she got through over half of the recipes—not quite accomplishing Powell's feat of cooking all 524. (Ephron wrote that preparing entire meals for four to eat alone in front of the TV made her feel “very brave and plucky.”) Here, her insights on the film:

On what kind of food statement Julie & Julia makes I don’t think it makes a revolutionary statement. It’s not making a statement about corn, or keeping a compost heap, or growing your own food supply. It’s just a celebration of food and how it can change people’s lives. I hope people will cook more after seeing this movie—but it’s okay if it doesn’t change that either.

On intertwining the lives of Julie Powell and Julia Child When I first read about Julie Powell in the New York Times, I thought, ‘no, this isn't a movie.’ I couldn’t see how the story could be two hours long. It was producer Amy Robinson’s idea to combine the two books—like in my favorite movie, The Godfather: Part II.

On Meryl Streep playing Julia Child She had very clear ideas of the Julia she wanted to do—Julia before she had her show and before she became more and more ‘Julia Child-like.’ Meryl read everything, knew everything. But you never had any sense of all that while she was working. There was no sense that anything she did was hard for her.

On Amy Adams playing Julie Powell Amy Adams is so able to become all sorts of things. [I wanted an actress] who could play someone smart. Amy’s also the perfect example of someone living in New York City but is not of New York City [like Julie]. Julie has so much Texas in her.

On food and film I said to the actors that everyone had to eat in the movie—that was a given. I wanted to shoot something that I’d want to eat. The bruschetta should look like it deserves its own web page. We didn’t want it to look styled. We didn’t want it to look as if a home cook couldn’t do it. (The one downside Chris Messina [who plays Julie’s husband, Eric Powell] really threw himself into it. The first day we shot, he swallowed 32 Tums.)

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