And just like that, director Richard Linklater ( Dazed and Confused, Bernie ), Austin native Ethan Hawke, and French actress Julie Delpy are not only making a sequel to the talky and poetic, cultishly beloved dramas Before Sunrise (1995) and Before Sunset (2004)—they've already wrapped production of it.
As Mike Fleming of Deadline Hollywood noted, Linklater's company, Detour Filmproduction, issued a statement and a photo confirming the existence of Before Midnight last week, just in time to build excitement amongst film industry insiders and critics at the Toronto International Film Festival.
"It's great to be back together again, this time in beautiful Greece to revisit the lives of Céline and Jesse nine years after Jesse was about to miss his flight," said the statement, which was credited to Linklater, Hawke, and Delpy.
Mere weeks ago, the possibility of Before Midnight was no more than a gleam in someone's blog post
Lots of blog posts.
“Nine years is an awfully long time to wait to see your one true love again,” Entertainment Weekly 's Aly Semigran sighed almost a year ago, when Hawke helped fuel the rumors in an interview with the French website Allo Cine . (Semigran also nailed the eventual, if fairly inevitable, title.)
Hawke had told Allo Cine that another nine years had passed, so it was maybe time to revisit the couple, who spend 24 hours together in the first movie, never to see each other again. SPOILER ALERT: That is, until the second film.
As Edward Davis of Indiewire wrote, Detour's statement "alludes to the end of 'Before Sunset,' where Jesse was indeed about to miss his flight back home to the U.S. and possibly finally take a step forward with his relationship with Celine. The ending was quite the cliffhanger. So what happens nine years later?"
Hawke dropped one hint in an earlier Indiewire interview with Kevin Jagernauth. "The biggest change between this one and the last one is the internet," he said.
That makes a prophet of Slate's David Haglund, who considers Before Sunrise to be “one of the best American movies from the last decade.”
“Let’s be thankful Before Sunrise happened when it did because that near-perfect film would cease to exist in the Facebook age," Haglund wrote.
In a more recent story, Indiewire's Jagernauth recounted the fact that Hawke had been giving interviews that made it sound like things were moving right along, only to be contradicted by Delpy, who implied that things were still at least a year away.
Then everyone was spotted in Greece, with a rumored August 15 production date.
Even so on August 30, Hawke told MTV:
"We're here writing a third installment to 'Before Sunrise,' " Hawke said. "If it works out, we'll film it, and if it doesn't, we won't. It's not really worth talking about. I'm just here developing."
Call him coy, but that's still pretty consistent with how Linklater often works, especially given the unique collaboration that is part of the Before films. Hawke and Delpy—both writer/directors in their own right—shared credit (and an Oscar nomination) with Linklater on Before Sunset, so it's not easy to draw a hard line between writing, acting, and production. And Linklater certainly has a track record for speed and cheapness.
In other words: It worked out. They filmed it.