Julie Powell’s ‘Julie and Julia’ transformed food writing. How to watch the movie version — and why.
“All the characters in ‘Julie and Julia’ were real people,” Julie Powell once explained. “The names of all the characters are real names, which made it difficult to write dialogue. But I made it up.”
Powell was the only person to attend the film’s premiere. “The audience loved it, and I left,” she said in a 2014 interview with NPR’s L. Timmel Duchamp. “I was very proud of being in the audience, because no one gets to see the movies they would love. No one.”
She went on to explain her philosophy behind the movie: “What I did was I made my best friend a movie. The point was to let people make up their own minds in the theater. I like that. People always want to tell you their own story; it’s the same with movies.”
This week, Powell will release “Julie and Julia: The Last Days” on Netflix, a new book in which the author has rewritten the novel she wrote about the real-life couple. The book is a memoir of sorts, combining the author’s feelings about her friendship with Julia Child, who both died in 2007, with the author’s thoughts about the world of food writing today, inspired by Powell’s own experiences as a food writer, editor and writer-in-residence at New York’s James Beard House. The book debuted at the 2017 New York Times Book Review Best Books of the Year.
Powell first became enamored with Child while working at The New York Times Magazine. She says she wrote four profiles of her friends in the fashion and food section, between 2010 and 2013. Each time, she interviewed someone and had to come up with a recipe to feature (Julia Child wrote a cookbook about being a child of immigrants), and the process was painful. “The one thing I learned as a food writer is that people come to you and they tell you the funniest things. There are no truths,” Powell says.
“Julie and Julia” is part memoir, part history lesson. Powell explains in the book that Julia was so much fun to work with that she ended up writing the book about Child while at the same time working on a