Paul Child, an artist and poet, was not as famous as his wife, Julia, whose book Mastering the Art of French Cooking became a worldwide sensation. Julia and Paul were married in 1946, and moved to Paris in 1949. One of the busiest actors in the industry today, Stanley Tucci, portrays Paul Child opposite Meryl Streep as the famous chef.
Paul Child isn’t well known as Julia was, what was he like?
Paul Child was this sort of Renaissance guy, and he was self-taught. He never went to college. But he was a voracious reader and he was self-educated. He was 10 years older than Julia, and he encouraged her.
Julia came from this sort of rarefied, upper-class background – she grew up in Pasadena and she didn’t know a lot about the world. Paul ended up sort of taking her under his wing and teaching her a great deal.
Early on, Julia didn’t really know what she wanted to do, and, of course, many women weren’t supposed to do anything at that time.
They were supposed to get married to a nice guy and have babies. But Paul and Julia didn’t haven babies. They couldn’t have babies.
So Julia wanted to do something, she settled on cooking and he encouraged her – always encouraged her. He adored her and she adored him.
If you could have met them what would you have liked to have asked them?
I would like to ask them how they lived so long eating what they ate! I’m convinced they both had two livers.
What I would have liked to have done was watch the interaction between the two of them in that little kitchen, either in Paris or in Boston, because to me that was the most interesting thing.
When you see that kitchen, we recreated it, it was so casual and really very intimate, I would have just liked to have watched them put together a meal.
The romance between Julia and Paul is such a fetching part of the movie, and it was interesting to see such a supportive husband, what did you work on together to create that wonderful chemistry?
Like probably most people in the world, I too have been in love with Meryl Streep for many years and had done The Devil Wears Prada with her, which was really fun, and we knew each other a bit socially before that.
It was incredibly easy, but she makes it easy because she’s so comfortable, I’m always a little nervous when I start shooting and she made me feel so comfortable.
Julia Child went through many different challenges when she started out. As an actor, what were some of the challenges you went through?
I took it too seriously at first, it took me a long time to understand that you have to be serious about what you do, but you mustn’t take yourself seriously, and that way you’ll be happier and ultimately you’ll be more successful, you’ll be better at what you do.
It was much easier after I lost my hair if you want to know the truth. I started to work constantly, so I’m thinking of losing the hair on my whole body and then I’ll never stop working.
I don’t know why I said that, it’s a disgusting thought!