Not many people can say they’ve been involved in a love triangle with Adam Sandler and The Weeknd. Or had the two engage in a very public bust up in a New York nightclub about it. But Julia Fox is not everyone, and for context, the aforementioned is in fact a scene in A24’s new Safdie Brothers film Uncut Gems – an incredibly tense crime thriller which sees Sandler play a jeweller and compulsive gambler, racing against time to pay his debts by spinning about 1000 metaphorical plates with his diamond-encrusted fingers. Fox stars opposite Sandler — who she describes as “a class act… a gentleman” — as his ultimately loyal girlfriend, joining him in toeing the high-wire in the film’s final heart-jolting balancing act.
“I’ve definitely had my fair share of club fights,” the New York native chuckles knowingly as she recalls her own wild teenage years on the city’s club circuit. “I physically grew up in the club, so it happens. But it was always a misunderstanding; I was never, like, actually cheating on someone!” The Safdie Brothers, old friends of Fox’s, wrote her part with the New Yorker in mind: “I mean she’s just such a New York city girl, so obviously we had so much in common,” she says decidedly. “She’s kind of a firecracker, and she’s also very empowered and bossy; she lets other people think they’re running the show, but, at the end of the day, she always gets what she wants.” When I ask her where the strongest parallel is, she doesn’t miss a beat. “The hustler mentality,” she declares proudly. “And also the by-any-means-necessary mentality. Like, if I have to get something done, it’s going to get done. And the loyalty. I’m very loyal.”
In the film, her unwavering loyalty to Sandler even in the face of adversity, and her strong-willed insistence on putting her own morals and safety on the line for her often dismissive boyfriend, if really dissected, could be seen as slightly contentious. Fox, however, sees it as a tool of empowerment. This is clearly someone for whom agency is paramount — in 2015 she posed sans-clothes for Playboy in their last “nude” issue — and when I quiz her on her views of modern feminism, she is refreshingly unflinching. “My idea of feminism is doing whatever I want to do,” she asserts firmly. “And I think a lot of women don’t do that because they’re afraid of what people are going think of them. If a man can do whatever he wants to do, why can’t a woman? I grew up with my dad and brothers, and it wasn’t until I got a little older that I realised, ‘oh, I get treated differently,’ or [asked] ‘why do I always have to prove myself all the time? Why does it feel like everyone is starting at square one and I’m starting at, like, negative five, and I have to work harder to just start where everyone else starts?’ So I always do whatever I want to do.”
Fox is someone who gets shit done. Surprisingly, Uncut Gems is the first acting credit for the photographer-turned-artist-turned-fashion-designer, and when I ask her about the meandering nature of her career, she is admirably open. “I really honestly just didn’t know what I wanted to do, and instead of just sitting around and waiting to figure it out, I was like: ‘well let me just try these things in the meantime, and whatever sticks I’ll just run with it,’” she admits. “I always knew that I wanted to do movies, I just never thought that I could be an actress – I just didn’t dream that far. But I thought: ‘well, I’ll make my own movies, and then I’ll act in them if I want to.’ You know?”
We’re talking about her pride and joy, her short film Fantasy Girls, which delves into “underground prostitution rings and sex-trafficking [but also] friendship,” which she has submitted to festivals. For someone who has flitted about so much, Fox seems to sink deeply and comfortably into every sphere she enters, but when I ask her where she has most felt at home, her voice glimmers into life upon the mention of directing and producing. “I love writing scripts,” she underlines. “I kind of just love creating my own little universe and having my characters do whatever I want them to do. It’s like a control thing or something. I really revel in it. And I know that making movies will allow my fantasies to come to life.”
Uncut Gems will in cinemas and on Netflix in January.