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Photo: Courtesy of Julia Cervantes/A24

Uncut Gems' Julia Fox makes the leap from club kid to breakout of the year

Thanks to the Safdie brothers, a downtown party girl transitions effortlessly into an electrifying onscreen presence

Joshua Rothkopf
Written by
Joshua Rothkopf

Unknown for now, Julia Fox is about to go supernova. Playing an equal counterforce to Adam Sandler’s impulsive jeweler in Uncut Gems, Fox positively vibrates off the screen—it’s the kind of arrival that wanna-be stars fantasize about. Meeting me at Ceci-Cela, her favorite coffee house on Delancey, Fox wears the moment loosely (just like she does an all-black Adidas track suit). She’s been in the NYC limelight for years now, as a teenage scene maker, artist and influencer, before the latter term lost its edge. On the cusp of fame, Fox is cool, mildly cranky and straightforward. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

Is the East Village still home for you?
Currently. But my favorite neighborhood is the Financial District. It’s really bustling during the day, and, at night, you can hear a pin drop. It kind of has that old New York feel. I actually love not being around people. [Laughs]

I don’t believe you. Your character—also named Julia—thrives in social situations. What’s her power?
She can mutate and change shape, depending on what’s needed of her in the situation. Her power is her wit and her looks. She’s in control of both, and she dominates any situation that she’s in.

Is that you?
We’re both New York girls, both independent. We do what we gotta do. By any means necessary. We’re ride or die.

“I have to go out and create my own little world, one that won’t change when I’m not ready for it to.”

How did you connect with the Safdies?
We met through friends, downtown. Josh always had his eye on me. It’s been five years that he’s been talking to me about this role. No one else really thought of me as an actor.

I think that’s about to change.
Yeah, it is.

Will you always call yourself a New Yorker, even after you move to Hollywood?
[Sarcastically] Yeah, I guess. I’d be lying if I said otherwise. I grew up here. But the city feels small to me, and I feel like I’ve outgrown it. I don’t even go out anymore. Nightlife is, to me, a little synthetic, a little desperate? I really need to evolve.

When you were really in it, what was a typical night out for you?
I would go have dinner at Lucien. I grew up with Lucien’s son, Zac [Bahaj], and I’ve been going there my whole life. From there, it would be Baby Grand or Casablanca. All the other places are closed, so I won’t even mention them. We’d just go all night until morning.

And you’d be wearing something that you designed yourself?
Sometimes. I would always get dressed up. Now I’m just too tired. I can’t wait to wear sweatpants any time I can.

Uncut Gems

Uncut Gems
Photograph: Courtesy of A24

Are you a nostalgic person?
A little. I still see glimpses of the old New York, and it makes me sad. It feels so fake now. New York used to be a place where, if you were different, you were celebrated. Now you’re just called a freak. It’s pretentious. I hate to be cynical, but I feel like the magic has left the city. All the landmarks of my childhood are no longer there.

Julia, this is supposed to be a happy time.
I know! I guess I’m just disillusioned. Disenchanted. I can’t sit around and be bitter all the time. I have to go out and create my own little world, one that won’t change when I’m not ready for it to.

What do you think about Bloomberg entering the presidential race?
Asshole. It’s so sad that we have these billionaires buying their way in. It needs to go back to real politicians: people who know the day-to-day struggles that the masses face, not sit in their little golden towers.

Any advice you’d give your younger self?
Don’t change a thing. Keep doing what you’re doing. It sucks now—it’s going to suck even more—but it’s going to pay off. Hang tight. Which is already what I was telling myself.

Uncut Gems is now playing. Read our five-star review.


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