Julia Fox, the Crown Jewel of Uncut Gems, Will Literally Kill You

By
Photography Roe Ethridge
Stylist Kyle Luu

Published December 12, 2019

Shirt, Shorts and Belt by Miu Miu. Earrings and Ring by Jennifer Fisher.

In 2015, the directors Josh and Benny Safdie needed someone for a supporting role in their next movie, Uncut Gems. The character was, for all intents and purposes, a hustler. She works in a jewelry shop in New York City’s Diamond District, where much of the film is set, doesn’t take shit, and helps her boss—and lover—pull off a risky heist. The brothers wanted their friend Julia Fox to play the part.

A fixture on New York’s downtown circuit, Fox was a self-described party girl who ricocheted between fashion design, photography, writing, and fine art. The one thing she hadn’t done was act. For the Safdies, who are known for casting non-actors in key roles, it worked in her favor. “Josh always thought of me as a star, and I think he wanted to be the one to discover me and put me on the map,” says Fox. But following the success of Good Time, the 2017 crime drama that made the Safdies arthouse antiheroes, Uncut Gems was suddenly a Martin Scorsese-produced movie starring Adam Sandler, and Fox’s grip on the role had slipped. “They called me and they were like, ‘Okay, we have some bad news,’” Fox recalls. “‘We don’t know how to tell you this, but now that big studios are involved, they really want a big-name actress.’”

The news left Fox unfazed. She had spent her life manifesting her own opportunities, so it was on to the next. But the Safdies eventually managed to get Fox a screen test with Sandler himself. She approached the audition with the same confidence she brought to everything else. “There was just no way someone could play that part better than me,” she says. “I knew I would literally kill this movie.” And she did. Her magnetic bravado and natural chemistry with Sandler have made her one of the year’s true discoveries. Fox, who is also pursuing a career as a filmmaker, is ready for the moment. “We were pulling up to the premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, and there are so many cameras and so many people and everyone was screaming,” she says. “And my publicist asked, ‘Are you nervous?’ And I told her, ‘Are you kidding? I was born for this.’”

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Romper by Alexander Wang. Earrings by Jennifer Fisher. Rings Julia’s own. Shoes by Aquazzura.

“I grew up with my dad,” says Fox, who was born in Italy but moved to New York when she was six years old.“He was very eccentric. I had zero supervision in New York. It’s kind of like I was an orphan. I would just go wherever the wind blew, and I would always get myself into crazy situations. By some miracle, I’m still alive.”

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Shirt and Hat by Miu Miu. Earrings by Jennifer Fisher.

“My dad always told me that I should have been an actress, but that wasn’t really my main focus,” says Fox, who co-wrote and directed the short film Fantasy Girls. “I really love to be the director, the person in charge, making my fantasy come to life. But if I love someone else’s fantasy, I’ll definitely help them bring theirs to life, too.”

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Dress by Versace. Earrings and Rings Julia’s own. Shoes by Guiseppe Zanotti.

Dress by Versace. Earrings and Rings Julia’s own. Shoes by Guiseppe Zanotti.

“I’ve crossed paths with so many different people from all walks of life,” says the 27-year-old actor. “Any situation you put me in, I can manage. From the Ritz to the trap house, I’ll find some sort of common ground with anyone.” “She’s a young girl from New York City, and she’s been on her own her whole life,” says Fox of her character in Uncut Gems, also named Julia. “She’s had to fend for herself. I feel like I have a Julia in me, and although we are very different, I’ve been there. I’ve been that girl.”

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Feathered Cape and Bodysuit by Gucci. Jewelry Julia’s own.

Jacket by Gucci. Earrings and Ring by Jennifer Fisher.

Earrings by Jennifer Fisher.

This article appears in the winter 2019 issue of Interview magazine. Subscribe here.

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Hair: Tomo Jidai using R+CO
Makeup: Yumi Lee
Set Design: Jesse Kaufmann
Production: Artist Commissions
Producer: Mary-Clancey Pace
Casting: Establishment Casting
Photography Assistants: Will Englehardt and Shen Williams-Cohen
Fashion Assistant: Julio Delgado
Nail Technician: Elina Ogawa
Set Assistant: Tyler Dey
Production Coordinator: Emily May
Production Assistants: Kirk Campbell, Omari King, and Rachel Rinehardt