If you’re an actor, you know that one of the best ways to play a character is by connecting with them. Whether it’s understanding why they are the way they are, or why they’re feeling what they’re feeling, finding out who your character is and how you can relate to them often lays the groundwork for great acting. For Julie Delpy in her upcoming movie The Lesson, connecting with her character of Hélène was crucial.
Talking to SheKnows, the two-time Oscar nominee broke down her character and explained what both of them have in common. “She’s kind of like a Mother Fatale,” Delpy says of her character. In the movie, premiering in theaters on July 7, Delpy plays Hélène, a woman who’s grieving the loss of her son while trying to set her other son Bertie (Stephen McMillan) up for success by hiring him a tutor (Daryl McCormack) for him to get into college.
“So first of all, she’s a mother, but she also has this mild Femme Fatale [side],” Delpy explains. “So I call her Mother Fatale, but it’s a whole new kind of [character].” For the Before Sunrise actress, the goal was to balance Hélène’s desire for revenge against her husband (played by Richard E. Grant) and her love and care for her son. “So she’s very strong in that sense, she’s very determined, but at the same time, her soft side is that she’s doing it to save her son,” Delpy says.
As a mother to 14-year-old son Leo Streitenfeld, whom she shares with ex Marc Streitenfeld, Delpy immediately connected with that motherly passion. “Being a mom is the center of my life,” she says, jokingly adding that she has only one child because she “didn’t manage to do more.” “I would say that it’s changed my life completely and it does define me a lot in my personality and who I am so I do connect with the character of Hélène in a way very much.”
When asked what she would do in Hélène’s position, Delpy said she’d be a little less subtle. “All hell would break loose,” she says. “I’m very protective of my child. I do connect with her in the sense that I would do anything to protect my child.”
And though becoming a mother has allowed her to find that extra connection, Delpy admits it’s probably been with her all along. “I think people can completely understand what a mother feels no matter if you’re a mother or not,” she adds. “Because you’ve had a mother and what they feel and how they feel matters to them.”
Tune in to see Delpy as the “Mother Fatale” Hélène in The Lesson in theaters starting today, July 7.
Before you go, click here to see our favorite movies and TV shows about imperfect, complicated women.