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Coppola at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival
Sofia Carmina Coppola|
May 14, 1971
New York City, U.S.
|Residence||West Village, New York, U.S.|
|Other names||Domino Coppola|
|Home town||Rutherford, California, U.S.|
She is the daughter of director, producer, and screenwriter Francis Ford Coppola, and made her film debut as an infant in her father's acclaimed crime drama film, The Godfather (1972). She later appeared in a supporting role in Peggy Sue Got Married (1986) and portrayed Mary Corleone, the daughter of Michael Corleone, in The Godfather: Part III (1990). The latter film earned her much derision and critical backlash, effectively ending her acting career. Coppola then turned her attention to filmmaking.
She made her feature-length debut with the coming-of-age drama The Virgin Suicides (1999), based on the novel of the same name by Jeffery Eugenides. It was the first of her collaborations with actress Kirsten Dunst. In 2003, she received the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for the comedy-drama Lost in Translation and became the third woman to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director. In 2006, Coppola directed the historical drama Marie Antoinette, starring Dunst as the ill-fated French queen. In 2010, with the drama Somewhere, Coppola became the first American woman (and fourth American filmmaker) to win the Golden Lion, the top prize at the Venice Film Festival. In 2013, she directed the satirical crime film The Bling Ring, based on the crime ring of the same name.
Sofia Coppola was born in New York City, the youngest child and only daughter of set decorator/artist Eleanor Coppola (née Neil) and director Francis Ford Coppola. Her father is of Italian descent. She was raised on her parents' farm in Rutherford, California, a rural area in Napa Valley, and graduated from St. Helena High School in 1989. She later attended Mills College and the California Institute of the Arts. At 15, she interned with Chanel. After dropping out of college, Coppola started a clothing line called Milkfed, which is now sold exclusively in Japan. Among extensive Hollywood family are her aunt Talia Shire, and her first cousins Nicolas Cage and Jason Schwartzman.
Coppola's acting career, marked by frequent criticisms of nepotism and negative reviews, began while she was an infant, as she made background appearances in seven of her father's films. The best known of these is her appearance in The Godfather as the infant Michael Francis Rizzi, in the baptism scene. Coppola returned to her father's trilogy in both the second and third Godfather films, playing an immigrant child in The Godfather Part II and Michael Corleone's daughter in The Godfather Part III, after the originally cast actress, Winona Ryder, discontinued her involvement with the film. Coppola responded to a question about her role in The Godfather Part III in a 2013 interview:
Let's see. Did I not wanna do it? Um. I was game. I was trying different things. It sounded better than college. I didn't really think about the public aspect of it. That took me by surprise. The whole reaction. People felt very attached to the Godfather films. I grew up with them being no big deal. I mean, I understand they're great films but... I dunno. I'm not surprised. It makes sense that people would have an opinion about it but I got a lot of attention I wasn't expecting. I was going to art school anyway so I was able to get back to what I was doing. It was before the Internet so magazines would come out but then the next month they were gone. There wasn't even as much paparazzi around then.
It has been suggested that the situation further damaged Francis Ford Coppola’s career and ruined Sofia’s before it had even begun. Coppola has said that she never really wanted to act and only did it to help out when her father asked her to. After shooting, she confirmed that she did not want to go into acting. It has also been suggested that Sofia’s role in the film may have contributed to its box office performance, which started strong and then began to decline. Coppola has said that her father based a lot of her character on her while writing the script, before she was even cast into the role. Sofia had herself worried that she had only been given the role because she was the director’s daughter, and the role placed a strain on her during the time of shooting that her mother observed in a series of diaries she wrote for Vogue during the filming.
Coppola also acted in her father's films The Outsiders (1983), in a scene where Matt Dillon, Tommy Howell, and Ralph Macchio are eating at a Dairy Queen; Rumble Fish (1983); The Cotton Club (1984); and as Kathleen Turner's sister Nancy Kelcher in Peggy Sue Got Married (1986) whom she would later work with on her feature film directing debut, The Virgin Suicides.
Frankenweenie (1984) was the first film she performed in that was not associated with her father; however, it often goes unnoted due to her stage name "Domino", which she adopted at the time because she thought it was glamorous. The short film, titled Life Without Zoe (1989) and released as part of a tripartite anthology film New York Stories, was co-written by a teenage Coppola with her father, who also directed the film.
After she was critically panned for her performance in The Godfather Part III, for which she was named "Worst Supporting Actress" and "Worst New Star" at the 1990 Golden Raspberry Awards, Coppola ended her acting career, although she appeared in the independent film Inside Monkey Zetterland (1992), as well as in the backgrounds of films by her friends and family: for example, she appeared as Saché, one of Queen Padmé Amidala's five handmaidens in George Lucas' Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999). She has since been quoted as saying that she was not hurt by the criticism from her role in The Godfather Part III, because she never especially wanted an acting career.
Coppola also appears in several music videos from the 1990s: The Black Crowes' "Sometimes Salvation"; Sonic Youth's "Mildred Pierce"; Madonna's "Deeper and Deeper"; The Chemical Brothers' "Elektrobank", which was directed by her future husband Spike Jonze; and later Phoenix's "Funky Squaredance".
Coppola's first short film was Lick the Star (1998). It played many times on the Independent Film Channel. She made her feature film directing debut with The Virgin Suicides (1999); it received critical acclaim upon its premiere in North America at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival and was released later that year.
Her second feature was Lost in Translation (2003). Coppola won the Academy Award for her original screenplay and three Golden Globe Awards including Best Picture Musical or Comedy. After Lina Wertmüller and Jane Campion, Coppola became the third female director to be nominated for an Academy Award for Directing and the second to win the Original Screenplay award, after Campion in 1994 (Wertmüller was also nominated), thus establishing a pattern for the female directors to be nominated for both awards. Her win for best original screenplay in 2003 made her a third-generation Oscar winner. In 2004, Coppola was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Her third film was the biopic Marie Antoinette (2006), adapted from the biography by British historian Antonia Fraser. Kirsten Dunst plays the title character, who marries King Louis XVI, played by Jason Schwartzman, Coppola's cousin. It debuted at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival where, despite boos in the audience, it received a standing ovation. Critics were divided.
Her fourth film was Somewhere (2010), filmed at Chateau Marmont. The plot focuses on a "bad boy" actor (portrayed by Stephen Dorff) who is forced to reevaluate his life when his daughter (played by Elle Fanning) arrives unexpectedly. The film won the prestigious Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. In November 2010, Coppola was interviewed by Joel Coen, who professed his admiration of her work, at the DGA screening of Somewhere in New York City.
Coppola's next film, The Bling Ring (2013), was based on actual events centered around the Bling Ring, a group of California teenagers who burgled the homes of several celebrities over 2008 and 2009, stealing around $3 million in cash and belongings. Emma Watson, Taissa Farmiga, Leslie Mann, Israel Broussard, Katie Chang, and Claire Julien starred in the film, which opened the Un Certain Regard section of the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.
An announcement in mid-December 2013 stated that American Zoetrope had successfully attained the screen rights for the memoir Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father and that Coppola will adapt the book with Andrew Durham. Coppola will also produce the film with her brother Roman.
In March 2014, it was reported that Coppola was in negotiations to direct a live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid from a script by Caroline Thompson. Coppola wanted to shoot her version underwater, and although she later admitted that such a prospect was unrealistic, test footage was shot. In June 2015, it was announced Coppola had dropped out of the film due to creative differences.
Coppola collaborated again with her Lost in Translation star Bill Murray on A Very Murray Christmas, which starred Murray and was co-written by herself, Murray and Mitch Glazer. The film, an homage to classic Christmas-themed variety shows, was released in December 2015 on Netflix.
Coppola directed The Beguiled (2017), a remake of the 1971 eponymous Western film, starring Nicole Kidman, Elle Fanning, and Kirsten Dunst. The film premiered at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, where Coppola became the second woman (and the first American woman) to win the Best Director award.
Coppola was first drawn to the story after reading the book by Jeffrey Eugenides in 1995 at the recommendation of musician Thurston Moore. Coppola said she felt really understood the teenage experience and the mystery that exists between boys and girls, as well as emotions. She has also said that if not for the book, she does not know that she would have a career in film. Coppola was scared to direct the film, but felt so connected to the material that she felt she needed to create it. Specifically, Coppola has highlighted the representation of teenagers “lazing around,” a situation she connected with but felt was not seen very much in films in any relatable way.
The story’s theme of loss was a personal connection for Coppola, after her oldest brother had died suddenly in a boating accident, though she says this personal connection was one she says she did not immediately realize. She wanted to make a quality film for young audiences and treat that group with respect and properly examine this deeply emotional period of childhood. The film was low budget and critics were supportive. Coppola credits the start of her career to the Cannes festival after the film premiered there, and has said that this film was what made her a film-maker.
The film has also been said to mark the point at which the public ceased to point to Coppola's father as a reason for her success. Coppola's father would not help her secure the rights to the novel, and so at that point she adapted the screenplay herself.
Coppola’s desire to shoot in Tokyo, specifically at the Park Hyatt hotel, is what brought the film to life. The film was a challenge to make, with a low budget and a time frame of 27 days. Coppola wanted to make a film that was a romantic love story without being nerdy.
Coppola has stated that with time, reception to the film has strengthened and reception has warmed and that the film has found its own place, describing it has having more of a life now than when it first came out.
Coppola has managed to forge a distinctive identity in spite of her father’s reputation as a major figure in American cinema. Notably, a commonality of her films is that they all in some way touch on complex relationships between youth and age.
The Virgin Suicides, Lost in Translation, Marie Antoinette, the three aforementioned films, all in some way approach issues of identity and the question of whether it is made or imposed, and do so through elements of teen films such the rites-of-passage narrative and contemporary scores, yet still manage to maintain a specific European arthouse feeling It has also been suggested that Coppola herself identifies with film’s young woman protagonist, characterized by a sense of naivety and uncertainty of the future.
Coppola herself has claimed that she was initially pulled towards the character of Marie Antoinette as an innocent and caring character who found herself in a situation outside of her control, and that rather than creating a historical representation, she wanted to create a more intimate look into the world of the heroine.
Scholars have highlighted the film as one that contains obvious parallels between Coppola’s own life as a Hollywood “royal” and Marie Antoinette’s position as the victim of xenophobia, malice, and envy.
In terms of Coppola’s personal connections to her films, scholars have described the films as “deliberately idiosyncratic,” as opposed to explicitly autobiographical. Coppola has also not disputed viewers’ readings of her films as somewhat personal to her own life and story, and has claimed that her films are made more for friends and family than the outside world.
In regards to the critics’ divided views of Marie Antoinette, it has been said that Coppola’s use of travesty in the film could have been a factor in the industry’s disparate opinions. Fashion, which can facilitate travesty, is a large part of Coppola’s film in the ways it was used to represent the nature of the period of time and create mood.
The film premiered at Cannes and Coppola described the reception as enthusiastic and exciting.
The film was inspired by a Vanity Fair feature by Nancy Jo Sales entitled "The Suspects Wore Louboutins." Coppola was first attracted to the story because she felt that it had elements that would make an entertaining movie but also said something important about contemporary culture. Coppola was also struck by the difference in the mentality surrounding fame than when she was growing up. Coppola’s intended audience for the film was both the age of the film’s characters as well as her own generation, and thought that the cultural aspect of the film would be interesting to both audiences.
Coppola has said that younger audiences are more intelligent and mature than most people perceive them to be, and so she likes making movies for this group. Coppola has described the group of teenage criminals as “products of our growing reality TV culture”. She chose to use young, unknown actors (aside from Emma Watson) who were the same age as the real kids because of the freshness they brought to the film.
The house that was used in the shooting of the film was owned by Paris Hilton, who also had a cameo in the film. Hilton was also a victim of the real robberies. Coppola’s father was one of the executive producers of the film.
The film is based on the 1966 book of the same name by author Thomas P. Cullinan and was made for under $10 million. The film has been described as a departure for Coppola because of its thriller-like features, among other things, and was the first film she screened for competition at Cannes since presenting Marie Antoinette in 2006—an experience Coppola herself described as nerve-wracking.
Coppola cited her intrigue with the South as part of the story’s intrigue. Coppola has said that she “wanted the film to represent an exaggerated version of all the ways women were traditionally raised there just to be lovely and cater to men—the manners of that whole world, and how they change when the men go away”. Coppola has cited Gone with the Wind as her inspiration for creating a film that was relatable despite its position within a different era.
The 2017 film, however, was not without its own wave of controversy and division amongst critics. Coppola faced accusations of ‘whitewashing’ the original story after she chose to both remove the supporting role of a black female slave in her version of the film as well as choose actress Kirsten Dunst for a character who was biracial in the original novel. She faced criticism for minimizing the story of the people experiencing actual hardship during this time period, in favor of depicting, albeit authentically, the lavish lifestyle of her protagonists.
Coppola has spoken out in support of her directorial choice to not lightly brush over what she recognizes as an important and weighty topic, further citing the presence of young girls as some of her film audience as a reason not to depict this representation of an African American character. The Beguiled is not the only of Coppola’s films to be accused of exposing the sociocultural affordances of her own childhood.
Coppola was also drawn to the story on a more personal level. She has explained that she wanted to tell the story of the male soldier entering into a classically southern, female environment, but flip it and tell the story from the point of view of the women and represent what was like for them. She has described her version of the film as a reinterpretation, rather than a remake, of Don Siegel’s 1971 adaption of the same book. Coppola has described her story as one about strong women, in which she wanted to explore the characters more deeply than was done in the 1971 version of the film. Coppola thought that the earlier version made the characters out to be crazy caricatures and did not allow the viewer to know them.
While some critics claim that Coppola intended The Beguiled as a feminist work, Coppola has explained that she is not in favor of that labelling. Though she has said she is happy if others see the film in this way, she sees it as a film, rather, that possesses a female perspective—an important distinction. The Beguiled was also made as a contrast to The Bling Ring, and Coppola has explained that needed to correct that film’s harsh Los Angeles aesthetic with something more beautiful and poetic.
Coppola arrived at a career in filmmaking with a background by means of acting, modeling and design, all of which have influenced her directorial work. Her background in fashion, especially, has played a large part in the aesthetic tones of her films and has heightened the roles of design and style in her work. Her upbringing in a Hollywood family has also greatly influenced her work, as well as her public reception and image, and has always had to fight accusations against her background of privilege. After both winning an Oscar for Lost in Translation and showing The Beguiled, Coppola was accused by some critics of displaying the social and cultural privileges of her own childhood.
Coppola has described some of her influence as coming from her own work, with each film actively influencing the next. She points to Jeffrey Eugenides’s book The Virgin Suicides, which was the inspiration for her first film of the same name, as the reason for her career in film.
Coppola has had to deal with sexism in the industry, and her quintessentially feminine work has been dismissed as decorative and insubstantial. Coppola has said that she is proud of the more “girly” aspects of her work, and that she feels that she has a feminine point of view that she is happy to project. She has cited her upbringing around so many strong men as a possible reason for her strong connection to femininity. She has been open about her experiences with sexism in the industry and has cited them as a reason she favors working in the independent realm. Coppola has also said that big budget productions hinder her creative freedom, and so she prefers to work on films she can control. She has also criticized big studio production for its focus on business rather than art.
Coppola has cited her own perceptions of gaps in the film industry as her own inspiration, explaining that she has always made the films that she herself would have wanted to see as a younger person. She has described this younger demographic of girls as deprived of high quality videography and as disrespected as an audience. She has also said that she likes making films for a young audience because she perceives them as smarter and more sophisticated than they are often given credit for.
Zoetrope, Francis Ford’s production company, has backed all of her films. Her family ties have proven to hold both pros and cons for Coppola, which she has articulated. Though she learned from her father and is proud of her family, she has said she is happy to have carved her own way. Coppola has also said that she is aware of her hard work and is grateful for her film education, and that her connections in the film industry were helpful because of the lack of female directors She said that she did what she could and is confident that her work is her own. After Francis Ford Coppola did not assist Coppola in securing the rights to the Jeffrey Eugenides novel The Virgin Suicides that her 1999 film was based on, much of the criticism surrounding her familial benefits subsided. Coppola usually involves her father in her projects. She has said that she likes being independent but respects him and his suggestions, though in the end always makes the choice she feels is right for a given movie.
Coppola professed a love for being behind the camera and is not upset by the divisive reactions to some of her films. She has said that she “would rather do something that some people really connect to and some people reject” and that she never wants to make something that is just mediocre.
In the mid-1990s, Coppola and her best friend Zoe Cassavetes helmed the short-lived series Comedy Central series Hi Octane, which spotlit performers in underground music. The show was cancelled after four episodes.
In December 2008, Coppola's first commercial premiered during an episode of Gossip Girl. The advertisement she directed for the Christian Dior fragrance Miss Dior Chérie, shot in France with model Maryna Linchuk, was very well received and continues to be popular on YouTube.
At the beginning of the 1990s, Coppola was often featured in girl-oriented magazines like Seventeen and YM. In 1998, she cofounded the clothing line Milk Fed in Japan, with her friend Stephanie Hayman in cooperation with Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon. In 2002, the fashion designer Marc Jacobs chose the actress/director to be the "face" of his house's fragrance. The campaign involved photographs of Coppola shot by photographer Jürgen Teller, in his signature over-exposed style. The July 2013 issue of Elle featured photographs shot by Coppola of Paris Hilton at Hilton's Beverly Hills mansion (which makes a cameo in The Bling Ring).
In May 2016, The New York Times reported that Coppola would be making her debut as an opera director. She is currently directing a production of La Traviata for the Teatro Nazionale in Rome, Italy.
Coppola was nominated for three Academy Awards for her film Lost in Translation (2003), in the categories of Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay. She would go on to win for Best Original Screenplay but lost the other two nominations to Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
Her nomination for Best Director made her the first American woman in history to be nominated in that category, and the third woman overall, after Lina Wertmüller and Jane Campion. In 2010, Kathryn Bigelow became the fourth woman to be nominated, and the first to win the award. Coppola, however, remains the youngest woman to be nominated in the Best Director category.
Coppola's win for Best Original Screenplay (along with her cousin Nicolas Cage's 1996 win for Best Actor) resulted in her family's becoming the second three-generation Oscar-winning family, her grandfather Carmine Coppola and her father Francis Ford Coppola having previously won Oscars. The first family to achieve this feat was the Huston family, for wins by: Walter, John, and Anjelica.
In 1992, Coppola met director Spike Jonze; they married in 1999 and divorced in 2003. In an official statement, Coppola's publicist explained that the divorce decision was reached "with sadness". It is widely believed that a minor character in Lost in Translation is based on Jonze, as Coppola stated after the film's release, "There are elements of Spike there, elements of experiences."
Coppola married musician Thomas Mars on August 27, 2011, at Palazzo Margherita in Bernalda, Italy. They met while producing the soundtrack to The Virgin Suicides. They have two daughters: Romy (born November 28, 2006), whose name is an homage to Coppola's brother Roman, and Cosima (born May 2010).
Coppola and her family lived in Paris for several years before moving to New York City in 2010.
When it comes to her family, Coppola has purposefully kept a low public profile, and ensuring her daughters’ lives are unaffected by her career and travel is a priority. When asked if her choices as a parent to keep her children out of the spotlight is a result of her own upbringing, Coppola has explained that she never wants her children to be jaded. She fails to see the point of bringing them into her work rather than allowing them to have a real childhood.
|1998||Lick the Star||Yes||Yes||Yes||Short film|
|1999||The Virgin Suicides||Yes||Yes||Nominated—Caméra d'Or|
|2003||Lost in Translation||Yes||Yes||Yes||Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay|
Nominated—Academy Award for Best Picture
Nominated—Academy Award for Best Director
|2006||Marie Antoinette||Yes||Yes||Yes||Nominated—Palme d'Or|
|2013||The Bling Ring||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|2015||A Very Murray Christmas||Yes||Yes||Yes||Netflix holiday special|
|2017||The Beguiled||Yes||Yes||Yes||Best Director Award (Cannes Film Festival)|
|1972||The Godfather||Michael Francis Rizzi (infant)||Francis Ford Coppola||Uncredited|
|1974||The Godfather Part II||Child on Ship||Francis Ford Coppola||Uncredited|
|1983||The Outsiders||Little Girl||Francis Ford Coppola||Credited as Domino|
|Rumble Fish||Donna||Francis Ford Coppola||Credited as Domino|
|1984||Frankenweenie||Anne Chambers||Tim Burton||Credited as Domino|
|The Cotton Club||Child in Street||Francis Ford Coppola||Credited as Domino|
|1986||Peggy Sue Got Married||Nancy Kelcher||Francis Ford Coppola|
|1986||Faerie Tale Theatre: The Princess Who Had Never Laughed||Gwendolyn||Mark Cullingham||Credited as Domino|
|1988||Tucker: The Man and His Dream||(uncredited)||Francis Ford Coppola|
|1990||The Godfather Part III||Mary Corleone||Francis Ford Coppola||Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress|
|1992||Inside Monkey Zetterland||Cindy||Jefery Levy|
|1999||Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace||Saché||George Lucas||Nominated – Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress|
|2001||CQ||Enzo's Mistress||Roman Coppola|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sofia Coppola.|
|Awards and achievements|
for About Schmidt
| Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay
for Lost in Translation
Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor
for Mystic River
| César Award for Best Foreign Film
for Lost in Translation
for Million Dollar Baby