Julia Fox Is Always Playing A Character — Just Not The One You Think

Photo: Amy Sussman/Getty Images.
Steven Soderbergh’s latest movie, No Sudden Move, starts out as a fairly low stakes crime caper: A gang of small-time crooks are hired to retrieve a document from a safe. But as the movie unfolds, you realize there’s something else at play here — something more rotten, fascinating, and intricate than you ever would have imagined. Julia Fox’s performance as Vanessa Cappelli unfurls in a similar trajectory. We first meet her as mob hitman Ronald Russo’s (Benicio del Toro) sidepiece, a mistress with Jane Russell curves and moxy to match. Then, she disappears just long enough for the audience to forget about her, until she  reemerges in a fantastic twist.
Vanessa undoubtedly shares traits with Julia, Fox’s eponymous character from Uncut Gems, which launched the former New York City club kid’s acting career, and Scarlett in PVT Chat, released last summer on VOD. They’re all bombshells with an agenda, underestimated by their partners at their own peril. It’s a situation Fox understands well, and a stereotype she relishes subverting.
“I'm totally being typecast right now, but I love it,” Fox told Refinery29 over Zoom ahead of No Sudden Move’s Tribeca Festival premiere. “I loved [being] a 1950s repressed housewife who says, ‘Fuck you, I'm not going to be this little blowup doll anymore. I'm going to take my power back and level the playing field.’ In her position, I would totally do the same.”
The natural charisma that Fox brings to her performances is a blessing and a curse. She’s a scene stealer, certainly, but she’s also constantly fighting an uphill battle against the idea that she’s simply playing herself. “My character in Uncut Gems was a lot like me,” she said. “We love to spin that story; it was really great for us. But it's still acting, you know what I mean? Also, acting like yourself is really hard.” 
That distinction is made even murkier by the sneaking suspicion that the persona Fox presents to the public is in itself a high art act of sorts. Perhaps her greatest performance of the last year was off screen, when she stunned the internet with a spontaneous Instagram  maternity photoshoot takeover that simultaneously announced her pregnancy and the birth of her son, Valentino. Her signature move was once again in play: a low key buildup followed by a spectacular climax. 
“Pregnancy was something that was all mine,” she said. “It did feel very sacred, and I didn't want to share that with anyone until after he came out. Nobody knew, I didn't have people calling me about it, asking me about it. Some days I would even forget I was pregnant. That is what I had imagined for my baby.”
In the frantic aftermath of Uncut Gems, Fox was unsure where her acting career would take her. No one could accuse her of lacking confidence, but she certainly recognized that as an amateur, she was relying purely on instinct rather than experience. “I didn't think I would be able to master [acting] enough to feel comfortable in it and love it.”
Photo: courtesy of Warner Bros Pictures.
No Sudden Move marks a turning point. Quarantine has led her to explore new hobbies — she launched a Patreon-only podcast, called Forbidden Fruits, and is reportedly working on a book proposal for a memoir —  but the screen is where she belongs. At least, for now. “[Directing] is still my ultimate dream goal,” she said. “[But] I don't feel like I'm there yet. I need a little bit more experience. Shadowing a director on set is something that I have been thinking about recently. Whatever happens is meant to happen.”
That laissez-faire attitude is belied by her next thought however, which hints that whatever the big twist in Fox’s own career will look like, we haven’t gotten to it just yet. One thing’s for sure, she doesn’t plan on playing the seductress — no matter how liberated — forever.
“I'm excited to be able to showcase that I can do other things too,” she said. “I know that I can do anything that I set my mind to, so I am hoping to have more opportunities that really push the boundaries. I would love to do action. I want people to be like, ‘But can she really do that?’ And then I want to be like, ‘Fuck yes I can, and I'm going to kill it.’

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