‘Uncut Gems’ star Julia Fox wants to be more than the It Girl

Julia Fox talked to Insider about life after being the breakout star of “Uncut Gems.”Fox talked about going out to Los Angeles to audition for Hollywood projects but being back in New York during the quarantine has made her refocus on creating projects.She’s written an episode of the podcast series “Day by Day.”She’s also finished the first draft of her memoir.Meet this unique star who has done everything from posing for Playboy to getting into arguments that has drawn the attention of Page Six.”Uncut Gems” is available on Netflix beginning Monday.Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

It’s September 2019 at the Toronto International Film Festival and Julia Fox is in the back of a large Escalade that’s driving up to the premiere of the highly anticipated Adam Sandler movie she’s starring in, “Uncut Gems.”Dressed in a see-through crystal skirt and black bodysuit, her Escalade pulls up to the red carpet, which is already buzzing with a crowd of onlookers and dozens of photographers. As the car door is about to open Fox’s publicist turns to her and asks, “Are you ready?”With no hesitation Fox answers back: “I was born ready.”To say Julia Fox has confidence in herself would be like saying Michael Jordan never liked to lose. Both statements are laughably understated.

Julia Fox at the premiere of “Uncut Gems” at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Arthur Mola/AP

The late twentysomething (her team won’t confirm her actual age, which only just adds to her mystique) has done more already than many will ever do in a lifetime. She’s dabbled as a fashion designer, had an art show, posed for Playboy, and has been in Page Six.

“I would get stopped on the street before the movie,” Fox pointed out matter-of-factly to Insider over the phone. “I always had a taste of what it’s like to have a public persona.”And it’s that confidence that made her the perfect fit to play the love interest to Sandler’s most unique role to date.In “Uncut Gems” (available on Netflix on Monday) Sandler plays Howie Ratner, a New York City jeweler known for blinging out celebrities and sports stars but also is a degenerate gambler. Fox plays Julia, who works at Howie’s showroom and is also his mistress. She’s got a no-nonsense attitude, dabbles in photography, and when things get really tough between her and Howie, she goes to the extreme lengths of professing her love by tattooing his name on her rear end.The performance is electric. Though Fox had no acting experience before this, she has an incredible natural gift to performing that makes you do a double-take in scenes where she’s arguing with Sandler outside of a club or in Mohegan Sun sweet-talking a very tan high roller in a key moment at the movie’s thrilling conclusion. And then with her porcelain skin and doll eyes, she’s got that classic Hollywood starlet look.

Some of that natural feel to her performance is because a lot of the things that happen to the Julia character in the movie has happened to Julia Fox in real life.

Julia Fox in “Uncut Gems.”


“Uncut Gems” directors Josh and Benny Safdie have built a reputation for casting people who have never been on camera before but just have a raw natural talent for performing. It heightens the authenticity of their movies tenfold. And often they will fill the characters those people are playing with things that have happened to them in their lives.So the Julia character being into photography, tattooing a guy’s name on her, even having an all-out fight with a guy in front of a club are all things from Fox’s real life (though the tattoo of an ex is not on her rear end).”I’m kind of known for that,” Fox said with a laugh about her real argument at a club. “But it was much more dramatic when it happened to me.”This is all why Fox is not your typical up-and-comer in Hollywood. As most who get their first taste of stardom are starry-eyed and geeking out at every celebrity within an arm’s length, Fox says she doesn’t get like that.

She’s already had the spotlight, now she wants to be the one holding the light.Fox was born in Milan, Italy, and at 6 years old moved to New York City where she lived in Yorkville, Manhattan — the setting of Larry Clark’s landmark “Kids,” which followed a group of kids drinking, smoking, fighting, and having sex throughout the neighborhood on a hot summer day. Fox says she had a similar teenage life.By high school she had moved to the Lower East Side and at 18 became a dominatrix to earn quick money. Then in 2015, she posed for Playboy in what would be the final nude issue of the magazine.She was quickly becoming a young New York City socialite, but was also feeding her creative cravings. She launched a now-defunct womenswear line, Franziska Fox, with her best friend. She spent time in New Orleans where she got into photography. It led to an exhibit in 2017 titled “R.I.P. Julia Fox,” which featured nude photos and canvas illustrations claimed to be made from Fox’s own blood.

By this time Fox had befriended Josh Safdie, who had told her about the “Uncut Gems” project (which was still in its infancy). For years, Fox and Safdie would talk on and off about the character. And as the project grew in Hollywood prominence with Sandler attached as well as mega-producer Scott Rudin, the role of Julia was no longer guaranteed to Fox. She would have to audition.Going up against hundreds, she fought for the role and got the part that was written for her.

Adam Sandler and Julia Fox in “Uncut Gems.”


Because the role had so much of herself in it, she says she wasn’t anxious about the work. Though there were challenges. The big fight in front of the club was tough because it brought back old memories. And then there was the day of shooting when she found out a good friend of her’s had died.It so happened that the morning she heard of her friend’s death she had to shoot the scene where a smoothie goes all over her after an encounter with Howie.

“It took a few takes to get it because my energy was just so dull,” Fox said. “So there I was getting a smoothie spilled on me multiple times.”But she has nothing but great things to say about the experience. And along with the “It” girl proclamations once people saw the movie, Fox was nominated for a Breakthrough Actor Gotham Award.Fox was on her way. She got an agent at WME and packed up for Los Angeles.Then the coronavirus happened.

Stuck at home, Fox has made the most of it by writing a story for a podcast and the first draft of her memoirFox has been in the Lower East Side since the pandemic. She had moved out to LA to further her acting career, but had to fly back she said to empty out a storage unit. Once New York issued a stay-at-home order, she was stuck there.But going back to her home town may have been the best thing for her. Since “Uncut Gems” was released on Christmas in 2019 she was in LA hustling from one audition to another trying to prove to Hollywood that she can be more than just Julia Fox.”It was mostly TV stuff,” Fox said of the auditions she went on. “Two projects seemed really cool but the rest were not necessarily things that I was very excited about. It was more like, I have to do something else, the spotlight is on me. I just felt this urgency.”But that’s all over now. Fox said she’s going to be more selective in the acting roles she’s going after from now on.

In the meantime, she’s back to her hustle of self-starting projects.She connected with Jamie Dolan and Adam Faze, who created the audio podcast series “Day by Day.” All the stories are centered around life during the pandemic. Fox wrote and starred in the series’ second episode, “Love Sick.”Fox pitched the idea to Dolan and Faze about a married couple forced to quarantine in the midst of their divorce. Eventually the two realize why they fell for one another in the first place, but in a cruel twist they both get coronavirus and believe the other gave it to them.
 Dolan and Faze loved the idea and Fox went and wrote it in three days. She plays opposite character actor P.J. Byrne (“Wolf of Wall Street,” “Rampage”) in the episode.

“We were blown away,” Dolan told Insider of working with Fox, who they originally assumed Fox would just want to act in the series until coming to realize she actually wanted to write one. “When we were told about her passion as a storyteller we never anticipated it.”Faze added: “And she has absolute confidence but zero ego. She just wanted to make this the best possible production.”Both Dolan and Faze point to Fox agreeing to be in the second episode of the series as the reason they have since landed talent for future episodes like Lucas Hedges (“Manchester by the Sea,” “Honey Boy”), Camila Mendes (“Riverdale”), and Elsie Fisher (“Eighth Grade”).Fox said quarantine has also been filled with moments of reflection. She likes to go out at night to take jogs. Or she’ll go on the rooftop of her building and take in the unusual quietness of New York City. It has all been beneficial creatively as she’s been writing a memoir looking back on her colorful life. She said she’s finished the first draft and has been spending the week going it over with her agent.

The one thing she won’t be doing is watching “Uncut Gems” on Netflix. Not because she doesn’t like the movie, she is extremely proud in her work on it. But she doesn’t want to dwell on the past. She wants to find the next thing that will get her to her goal.”My dream is to not even be in front of the camera,” she said. “My dream is being in the writer’s room. Writing, directing, and producing something. To me that’s success. Having my work speak for itself.””I feel that my whole life I’ve been trying to put things out there to show I’m not just this pretty girl,” she continued. “I’m an artist. I’m a creator. But it has always been overshadowed by what I look like.”It’s the only time in our chat where Fox presents a hint of vulnerability. But as quickly as it shows up it’s gone and her confidence returns.

“I’m sure I will be able to give something my all again.”

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