Sofia Coppola is known for writing and directing rich roles for women, from Kirsten Dunst as rebellious teen Lux Lisbon in “The Virgin Suicide” to Scarlett Johansson as adrift postgrad Charlotte in “Lost in Translation” and, most recently, Rashida Jones’ Laura in “On the Rocks.” She has the same expectations for other directors’ movies she watches, as Coppola recently explained to “Promising Young Woman” director Emerald Fennell in a conversation hosted by Screen International.
The topic arose out of their discussion of Carey Mulligan’s complex turn as Cassie in the Oscar-contending thriller.
“We immediately got each other,” Fennell said of her star. “It made making the film so much easier because we had a shorthand. I knew she knew exactly what I was thinking and we could work very quickly between ourselves. I think if it had been anyone else who we hadn’t known before, just physically getting the film made would have been tough because she didn’t need any talking down, she didn’t need any fluffing! She was just ready. She’s always there. She never goes back to her trailer. She’s ready to work.”
Fennell added, “I would work with Carey again in a heartbeat but weirdly, and I don’t know if it’s subconsciously deliberate, I don’t think the main thing I’m writing now has anything she could [do] as it has no women…”
Before Fennell could finish that thought, Coppola responded, “No women in it?”
“Oh no! No women of her age,” Fennell said of her next film, and referring to Cassie, who is 30 in “Promising Young Woman.”
“I can’t watch movies that don’t have any female characters in it,” Coppola said. “I’m like, ‘Who are these people I need to connect with?'”
Fennell responded, “It’s tough, isn’t it? I can’t see any more films of men in raincoats, talking about serious things.”
Speaking of men, Fennell said in another recent interview she came up against mixed reactions from male executives while pitching her script for “Promising Young Woman,” which finds its protagonist confronting sexual assault in cunning ways. “One guy said, ‘Oh, I got it. So she’s a psycho!’” Fennell recalled.