Being Julie, Not "Julie"


Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

"How surreal must this be for you?"

In the last month or so, as the hoopla surrounding the upcoming release of the movie Julie & Julia (based on both my memoir of the same name and Julia Child and Alex Prud'homme's My Life in France) has taken over my life, this has become the single question I am asked most often, now on a daily basis. My answer is, usually, "Yep. Pretty crazy." That seems the most diplomatic thing to say, not to mention the simplest. I'm not lying--it is surreal, the whole thing. But the truth is more complicated than what can be evoked by one overused adjective.

The truth is that I've had a movie made about me--or, rather, a version of me that's been made up by a very famous and accomplished person I've met only a handful of times--and I find the whole thing thrilling but also occasionally upsetting and hard to come to terms with. Clearly, one cannot complain about a movie based (in part, anyway) on one's very first book, at least not without coming off as hideously ungrateful. A movie written and directed by Nora Ephron. Starring Meryl Streep, for cripes' sake. There is no bad here. And I'm not--complaining, that is. In any way, shape, or form.

The "Julie Powell" of Julie & Julia: The Movie! has things to teach me, and the lessons are not all easy ones.

That said, I have seen the movie six times now, and there are things about it that scare me a little. The "Julie Powell" of Julie & Julia: The Movie! has things to teach me, and the lessons are not all easy ones.

Ephron's Julie, adorably depicted by Amy Adams, shares with me some traits, history, and relationships, but is emphatically not me. For one thing, I was never editor of the Amherst College literary magazine when I was there. I do not have friends buying up parcels of Manhattan real estate or writing Showtime-series-inspiring blogs about having sex with billionaires in private jets. I did not start a blog to get a book deal--people didn't do that in 2002. I have never dressed up as Julia Child, and I hate Dean & DeLuca.

Ephron's Julie is not particularly funny--she is instead a person to whom funny things happen--whereas one of the great discoveries of my year cooking through Julia Child's marvelous, world-changing book and writing about it was that I could develop a voice people found engaging and humorous. (Possibly the greatest exchange of that entire year--Me: "I never realized I was funny before!" My mom: "I know--neither did I!")

Where things get a little fuzzier, and where the history gets possibly a tad revisionist, is the whole narcissism thing. Nora (Is it strange that I'm referring to this famous powerhouse of a woman I barely know as "Nora"? Probably....) very smartly brings up the subject of blogging as extreme self-absorption. Every time I watch the scene in which Ephron's Eric Powell (played, spot-on, by Chris Messina) calls out Ephron's Julie Powell on her relentless self-involvement, as exemplified by her breakdown over the failure of Judith Jones to come over to her house and give her a book deal, I cringe. "I wasn't like that!" I think to myself. "I was never that much of a twit!"

Presented by

Julie Powell is the author of Julie & Julia. More

Julie Powell is the author of Julie & Julia, which was made into a major motion picture by Nora Ephron starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. After a misspent youth involving loads of dead-end jobs and several questionable decisions, Powell has found her calling as a writer-cum-butcher. She lives in Long Island City, Queens, when she isn't in Kingston, NY, cutting up animals. Her latest book is called Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat and Obsession.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus


How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.


Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.


The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.


Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.


Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses


Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Health

From This Author

Just In