Sofia Coppola, the daughter of director Francis Ford Coppola, who was born in 1971, has only made four films, but she is one of the great filmmakers of her generation.
Her film "Somewhere", which will be released on Thursday and tells the story of the idle life of a Hollywood star, was awarded the Golden Lion in Venice.
How did the basic idea for "Somewhere" come about?
Sofia Coppola: In the beginning there was the character of Johnny Marco. A bad boy actor who lives at the Chateau Marmont hotel. I had different actors in mind as I developed it, and I had heard some stories from them. There were about twelve people. But I won't give names.
You obviously have a thing for hotels in your films. What is special about "Chateau Marmont"?
Coppola: The “Chateau Marmont” is a legend in Los Angeles. Many Hollywood stars have lived here. From Humphrey Bogart to Johnny Depp. It's a place that breathes film history. When I went to college in Los Angeles in the 90s, I went there a lot just to people-watch. It was always a very interesting, colorful mix. Back then, there weren't that many paparazzi around. Today most people check in there just to be seen and photographed.
“Somewhere” shows the life of a film star from a very everyday perspective. What got you into the backyard of celebrity culture?
Coppola: It's an extreme world that I personally tend to view from a distance. Show business and fame are completely overrated. America today is obsessed with its celebrity culture. A lot of people just want to get famous, and I wanted to show what it feels like to be a movie star. For many people it might sound like something worth striving for when you drive a Ferrari and can order strip girls to your room in the “Chateau Marmont”. I wanted to show the less glamorous everyday life.
As a director who grew up in the film business, how close are you to this world?
Coppola: I didn't grow up in Hollywood, I grew up in Northern California. My mother had nothing to do with show business. There you develop your own perspective. And even today I don't move all the time in the world of film and can see the whole thing very well from a distance.
Can you see things better from a distance?
Coppola: When I lived in Los Angeles, I wrote scripts based in Tokyo or France. I developed the script for “Somewhere” when I was living in Paris. I am not very good at writing about my immediate surroundings. I need a certain distance there.
Nevertheless, you create a very intimate closeness to the characters.
Coppola: I make personal films. So there is always a piece of me in the characters. The biggest challenge with this story was to tell it from a male point of view and to make it believable from that perspective
Johnny Marco goes through a slow, almost imperceptible change process. How do people change? How is Johnny Marco changing?
Coppola: There are always moments in life when you have to decide which way to go. But it is rarely just one thing that makes a change, but rather a complex combination of different elements. Johnny Marco is at a point where he's kind of in between looking at himself. His daughter wakes him up a bit and makes him take a closer look at himself. The daughter represents a part of his life that feels purer than the rest of his movie star existence.
How close do you feel to this daughter figure?
Coppola: The character is based on a daughter of friends who is that age and grew up in this world. My childhood was completely different, but I also went on trips with my father and had an insight into the adult world that children normally cannot.
While the world around us and in the cinema is getting faster and faster, your films seem to be decelerating consistently.
Coppola: Our modern life is full of distractions and speeds by at such a speed. I would like to pause with my films and take a closer look.
The dialogues are dosed very sparingly in your films. Do you distrust the words?
Coppola: For me it is more interesting to tell a story through the images than through dialogue. I appreciate good dialogue with other directors, but I'm more interested in what people don't say. While emotions are often verbally formulated in the cinema, people are usually not so good at expressing themselves in words in real life.
From Martin Schwickert
As a child, the native New Yorker Sofia Coppola (39, here at the Venice Film Festival) had acting appearances in films by her father Francis Ford Coppola, including in "The Godfather". In 1999 she made her directorial debut "Virgin Suicides". Lost in Translation, starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson, won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Coppola's marriage to director Spike Jonze divorced in 2003. Daughter Romy, born in 2006, comes from her relationship with Phoenix singer Thomas Mars, and their second daughter Cosima was born in May 2010. (vbs)