Los Angeles – The lovely and soft-spoken Sofia Coppola easily reminded us of her mother, Eleanor Coppola, whom we recently interviewed for her first feature film at age 80, “Paris Can Wait.”
They both had that confident, quiet yet smart countenance, projecting a strong, respectful presence. Both women were not easily rattled or excitable. They answered questions eloquently and honestly. They are both passionate about their craft. And they admitted they were both influenced by Francis Ford Coppola – Eleanor’s husband and Sofia’s father.
So was she closer to her father or to her mother, we asked.
“I’m in the hot seat,” she answered and smiled. “I was a daddy’s girl. I think like most teenage girls, there was friction between me and my mom because as a girl, that’s who you rebel against to make your identity. I am close to both my parents, but I was closer to my dad. As a daughter in an Italian family, you can imagine.”
We told Sofia, 46, that her mother told us her movie, “Paris Can Wait” was in some ways inspired by Sofia’s “Lost In Translation” because she learned from that film and Sofia that you can take elements of your own life and fictionalize them.
So what does she think she learned from her mother professionally and what lessons does she want to pass down to her daughters Romy, 11 and Cosima, 7, with musician-hubby Thomas Mars?
Sofia replied, “Just growing up, my mother was always interested in contemporary art and brought us to museums to see exhibits and always encouraged us to make art and be creative, so that was very encouraging and it’s what I got from her. And also her demeanor, she is calm and I think my demeanor on set comes from my mother who keeps a calm exterior in the storm.”
She continued, “I feel like now having daughters, I draw so much on what my mother taught me and just her values of what is important and how you want to be as a person and as a woman and to be able to express yourself. So I find that I have learned a lot from her about being a mother and then also as an artist.”
So what was her impression of her mother’s documentary, “Hearts Of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse,” which was a 1991 documentary film about the production of the 1979 epic Vietnam War feature film “Apocalypse Now?”
She said, “That is an incredible movie for anyone that wants to know about, just to see an artist at work, and the highs and lows. That was such a different time in making that film and that situation and I am so grateful that she filmed it.”
Dressed sharply in an Atlantic Escole jacket, Acne jeans and Chanel sandals, Sofia talked to us about her latest movie “The Beguiled” which recently won for her the Best Director Award at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival where it was selected to compete for the Palme d’Or in the main competition section.
A remake of the 1971 Western film of the same name, the film stars Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning and Colin Farrell. Does she like working with the same cast and crew all the time like Woody Allen?
“I think a lot of directors do that and I try to be open to new actors,” she said. “I love working with new actors and discovering people. But I connect with Kirsten as some kind of alter ego, or someone that is a great partner for me to work with. And we have done three films, this is our third film. And Elle, I met her when she was 11 and I thought she was so unique. I am still excited to see what she does when she gets older and has more complex roles and so I was excited to get to work with her now as a young woman.”
She added, “Now, I feel closer to Kirsten and Elle and I see them more as young women because when I met them they were kids. I still feel like they were like little sisters to me. But I enjoy that we can talk about more things because now they are adults. I love watching them when they act. They do the roles how I imagined. But they also bring so much more to it, so it’s exciting.”
As a filmmaker and a member of the audience, which does she prefer – drama or comedy?
“Oh, I can’t choose,” she admitted. “I really enjoy both. And a lot of them, they fit together. I love stories that incorporate both. Because in life sometimes, the sad or dramatic moment will have something funny that breaks the tension. So I really love both. It’s hard to choose.”
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