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Sofia Coppola: How She Survived ‘The Beguiled’ Backlash, Why She Won’t Do TV, and Why Her Dad is ‘Over’ Film

A week before receiving a director tribute from the Gotham Awards, Coppola sat down with IndieWire to discuss her busy creative life (and her new puppy).

Sofia Coppola

Shutterstock

Where do you do most of your writing?

I have a little office above where I live. I was just kind of catching up on real life. I just got a dog. That postponed my writing. I was like, “I’m going to write this fall,” and then we got a puppy.

What kind of puppy?

A golden retriever. It’s really cute. But I do want to try get back to writing.

Do you keep a revolving set of ideas you want to do at this point, or do you just start writing?

I always heard Woody Allen had a drawer of all these notes. I don’t do that. I usually need time in between projects to adjust everything. I feel like every movie is kind of a response to the last movie, and what’s in the air and stuff. There’s so much going on politically as well, so it’s hard to feel like it’s relevant to make a movie, if you’re not making something that’s political. But it’s not my thing. How much do expectations impact the work you produce? I try to forget all of that. You just have to go with your instincts of what’s personally connected to you, so I try to forget about an audience. It’s more intuitive. After “The Bling Ring,” I wanted to make something really visually beautiful and delicate. That’s when I got into “The Beguiled.” This whole power struggle between men and woman is always interesting to me, since “Virgin Suicides.” Afterward, I can usually see how each movie fits into different things.

What was the hardest movie for you to make?

It all depends. I think it’s hardest dealing with distribution. It’s easier do it on your own, and just sell it afterward.

I thought you’d just say “Marie Antoinette.”

Marie Antoinette

“Marie Antoinette”

No, that one was weird because it was like a free pass, since it was right after “Lost In Translation.” Amy Pascal helped a lot. I wouldn’t have got to make that movie if it weren’t for that time. I’m sure I couldn’t make it now. But everyone gets one free pass after a successful film. They gave us the keys to the castle, and they were like, “Just do what you want.” It was pretty amazing. I was looking at some pictures my friend had on set, and I was like, “I can’t believe they kind of just let us run around.” But it was cool that Amy Pascal was like, “Just do it.” To get that much money and creative freedom was unusual.

Who’s the main person juggling your practical needs as a filmmaker?

It’s my agent, Bart Walker. He always finds a way to raise finances. He’s such a hero for independent film. He’s the knight in shining armor. And [Universal Pictures chair] Donna Langley helped me with “The Beguiled.” I talked to her about it, years ago, and she was helpful about getting me into their archive.

“The Beguiled” is about to open in Japan. How do you think it will play there?

They love that period. I feel like there’s a lot repression in the culture, so I hope they can relate to it on that level. To me, the movie is so much about sexual repression, and it’s not really about the war. They collected dolls at the period. That period was really popular in Japan. I think there’s some correlation.

Would you ever want to go back and make a movie there? Fifteen years down the road, Bob and Charlotte find each other again…

No. I got that out of my system.

Fans are dying to know what happened to those two.

“Lost in Translation”

Well, Richard Curtis did make a short-film reunion for “Love Actually,” but I wouldn’t do that. I love going there, but I couldn’t do another movie there.

Who’s the first person you always share your rough cuts with?

My brother, Roman, is a big help to me. He always helps me, even when he doesn’t receive the credit. But he’s always the first person who sees my scripts and cuts.

Does it go the other way as well? Do you read his scripts for “Mozart in the Jungle”?

No. He’s the big brother, so that’s his role. I’m more of just a fan.

Is your father, Francis Ford Coppola, ever going to direct a movie again?

He just went into this whole electronic cinema thing. He wrote a book about it. He’s into that being the future. He’s always been so forward on technology that the idea of writing a movie doesn’t interest him as much as what you can do with it now — with live cinema. It’s funny, because my dad and George Lucas were both into shooting digitally years ago, but my brother and I love film so much. And they’re so over it.

What do you think about Quentin Tarantino’s new movie going to Sony post-Weinstein? Can he keep his autonomy in the studio system?

Quentin Tarantino and Sofia Coppola

Anne Thompson

I talked to him a little bit about that. I don’t think anyone is going to tell him what to do. He has such a strong personality, and he’s confident in his voice. I don’t think he’s going to let anyone push him around.

I assume you can relate to that.

I think I’ve really gotten to be able do what I want to do. Growing up around my dad, I learned about the importance of fighting for what I believe in, being an artist. You can’t be raised around that and then be a conformist. He’s always had a rebel spirit.

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