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 01072011_BackTalkSofiaCoppola
Sofia Coppola

Six years before Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win the Oscar for Best Director, Sofia Coppola was the third to be so nominated, for Lost in Translation. She didn't win, but she did pick up the trophy for Best Original Screenplay, establishing herself as an important American director in her own right and not just Francis Coppola's gifted, privileged daughter.

Nonetheless, the nay-saying resumed when the unfairly maligned, big-budgeted confection that is Marie Antoinette (2006) failed at the box office and divided critics. (I gave it three and a half stars out of a possible four.) Coppola took time out to have a child (she's since had a second) and then returned with Somewhere, a film about a dissipated and alienated movie star named Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) who is suddenly required to put in time with his 11-year-old daughter, Cleo (Elle Fanning).

The premise is reminiscent of Lost in Translation, as is the spare style. Will it be as successful? The reviews have been mostly positive, and last September, Somewhere won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. Can another Oscar be far behind?

CONGRATULATIONS, BELATEDLY, ON WINNING THE GOLDEN LION.
Oh, thank you!

AND ALSO FOR THE BEST SCREENPLAY OSCAR FORLOST IN TRANSLATION. DO YOU THINK THAT AWARDS LIKE THAT AND KATHRYN BIGELOW'S BEST DIRECTOR OSCAR INDICATE THAT WOMEN ARE GAINING MORE TRACTION IN HOLLYWOOD?
I wouldn't say that. We'll see, I guess.

SOMEWHERE ANDLOST IN TRANSLATION SUGGEST THAT IT'S NO FUN TO BE RICH AND FAMOUS. WHY ARE THESE PEOPLE SO UNHAPPY WHEN THEY HAVE SO MUCH?
I'm not trying to make a general statement. I just want to show how imbalanced the lifestyle has gotten. People are striving for fame, and it's such a big thing in our culture, and I'm trying to show another side of it.

HOW MUCH OFSOMEWHERE IS BASED ON PERSONAL EXPERIENCE?
It's not autobiographical at all, though like all writers, I take bits from different things I've seen or heard, or memories. But it's not all like my childhood or my parents. But I've seen a little bit of that world and put it together and showed it from this guy's point of view.

YOU'VE SEEN SOME JOHNNY MARCOS IN YOUR TIME, I IMAGINE.
I have. I spent some time at the Chateau Marmont [the notorious Hollywood celebrity hideaway where Marco has a suite that he seldom leaves] and have seen a few Johnny Marcos. And, of course, when I was writing the part of his daughter, I was thinking of the adventures I'd been on that aren't usual for kids, like film festivals with my dad.

I GUESS IT'S FAIR TO SAY THAT THE OPENING SCENE, THREE MINUTES OF JOHNNY DRIVING A FERRARI IN CIRCLES, IS A METAPHOR FOR HIS LIFE. IS IT ALSO A KIND OF AESTHETIC STATEMENT? I DON'T SEE FANS OFTRON GOING FOR IT.
Not consciously. I just wanted a visual way to explain the character. It was in the script as a guy going around in circles, and we wanted to set it up in the most simple way, with the least amount of camera set-ups, so you're alone with this guy and not aware that it's a movie. But I hope it's a welcome contrast to the style of most movies out there. Something that gives you a chance to take a breath.

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  Topics: Features , Francis Ford Coppola, Academy Awards, Sofia Coppola,  More more >
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