V Girls: Julia Fox
With youth, influence and project-driven careers, these promising actresses have our eyes glued to the screen.
In Hollywood, the other woman character has either been an outright villain or one whose redeeming qualities—beauty, youth, influence—do not spare her condemnation. But in the Safdie Brothers’ film Uncut Gems, Julia Fox is a magnet for audience empathy as the quick-witted concubine of Adam Sandler’s Howard Ratner, a hard-up gambler in New York’s Diamond District. While Gems marks Fox’s big-screen debut, it’s no surprise that she delivers a convincing performance; after all, the character of Julia de Fiore is Fox’s literal namesake circa 2012. “Back then I was a bit of a wild child, and dating an older, married man, [so] I do feel like I am playing a 2012 version of myself,” says Fox, who met the Safdies on New York’s going-out circuit. As they developed the script for Gems, Fox would feed them personal anecdotes. “Josh [Safdie] would ask me, ‘What would you do if you were in a fight with your boyfriend, and you needed to manipulate him?’” Fox recalls.
But where her onscreen counterpart deals in chintzy jewelry and memorabilia by day, running amok at 1 OAK by night, the real-life Julia was an it-girl of the niche variety. In addition to rolling with artist-types like Carly Mark and Richie Shazam, Fox found buzz as a jewelry designer and photographer. But just as the Safdies were shopping Gems around Hollywood, Fox was growing weary of her city-kid milieu—marking this creative juncture with the conceptual exhibit, “RIP Julia Fox,” on the Lower East Side. “That was a rebirth, in a sense—when I decided I wanted to do film, and write,” she says. “Staging my own funeral [was to say] ‘That girl—the exhibitionist [in me]—is dead.’”
By then, the Safdies were angling to cast Fox in the role she was, quite literally, born to play. “I remember thinking, if someone else can play me better than me, then what am I even here on this earth for? I got really dramatic,” she recalls. Ultimately, it may have been Fox’s inner, attention-getting it-girl that gave her the edge: “It was my role,” she says. “It just had to be me.”
Having played other-woman and it-girl, Fox is aspiring to selflessness in her creative next steps, like building on the themes in her recently completed short film. The short, shot on location by Fox and her co-director, explores Reno’s underground child-trafficking ring. “I cannot [talk about myself] anymore,” Fox attests. “I want to do ‘other people’ things.”