Courtesy PhotoIn “Before Midnight

Courtesy PhotoIn “Before Midnight

‘Before Midnight’ team works after hours

Directed by Richard Linklater, “Before Midnight” completes a trilogy begun nearly 20 years ago, rounding out one of the greatest love stories ever in movies.

The first in the series, 1995’s “Before Sunrise,” tells the story of an American boy (Ethan Hawke) and a French girl (Julie Delpy) who get to know each other over the course of a day, walking around Vienna.  

In 2004, “Before Sunset” depicted their eventual reunion, during a hurried couple of hours in Paris. Older and wiser, they have accumulated baggage.

In “Before Midnight,” Jesse and Celine are more permanently connected, working on maintaining their relationship and heading toward middle age. This time they’re visiting Greece, Jesse is a successful author, but both have changes they would like to make.

“This was the hardest one,” said Linklater, in The City with Delpy last month for “Before Midnight’s” screening at the S.F. International Film Festival. “It’s a tougher stage in life to depict. They know each other so well. What’s there to reveal to an audience?”

For Linklater and his collaborating lead actors, the process of writing the “Before” movies takes a long time, even years for initial ideas to emerge.  

Next, according to Delpy, the trio works on the backstory. She says, “That takes two or three years before we start writing. It doesn’t even feel right to go there before then.”

“We kind of knew early on what it shouldn’t be,” says Linklater, “but then the specifics of that took a while to figure out. We could have an idea for months and months and then let it go. But none of that time is wasted. We’re digging deeper.”

Linklater, Delpy and Hawke — who received a joint Oscar nomination for the second movie — created the first movie the same way, though Delpy and Hawke did not get writing credit.

“I spent 11 days working on that initial, blueprint script, and then we spent three weeks, plus the whole shoot rewriting,” says Linklater. “When I think of that movie, I think of the three of us.”

Involving actors in screenplay writing makes for a better movie, says Linklater: “The performances wouldn’t have been as good if they’d just shown up on the set, hit your mark and say your line.”

With the gift of time, the new movie is even more profound than its predecessors. “The other ones are about connecting, reconnecting, flirting. It was pretty simple,” Delpy says. “It’s totally different now.”


Before Midnight

  • Starring Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy
  • Written by Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy
  • Directed by Richard Linklater
  • Rated R
  • Running time 1 hour 48 minutes

artsentertainmentEthan HawkeMoviesRichard Linklater

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at

Just Posted

Psilocybin magic mushrooms (Shutterstock)
‘Magic mushrooms’ moving into the mainstream

Efforts to decriminalize psychedelics could follow several different paths

Those who stick around San Francisco on long holiday weekends can enjoy a slower pace, uncrowded streets and beloved institutions like cable cars. <ins>(Kevin Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
These empty San Francisco streets: A holiday dream

We’re here because we can be, and because we have nowhere else to be

The 2020 Census has concluded taking responses sooner than expected. (Courtesy photo)
What does California have to lose if undocumented immigrants are excluded from the census?

By Kim Bojórquez The Sacramento Bee If The U.S. Supreme Court rules… Continue reading

It’s disheartening to see that Bill Graham Civic’s marquee isn’t announcing upcoming concerts. (Screenshot/Bill Graham Civic Twitter)
A cruise through The City with the ghosts of rides past

I take my time and don’t even mind the occasional traffic jams

Anchor Brewing’s Christmas Ale — both the 2020 edition and vintage brews — are for sale. (Courtesy photo)
Holiday Gift Guide: Give a present, support a local business

Friends and loved ones will delight in S.F.-made wares

Most Read