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sofia coppolaSofia Coppola | Nepotism Schmepotism!
an emily blunt interview

Lost in Translation's Blunt Review

Blunt Review congratulates Sofia on her multiple Nominations! Including Oscar nod - She's the 1st female feature director in that position by the way people...

 

As I entered the swanky hotel's hospitality suite, filled with euphoria inducing cakes and nummy bits prepared to titillate the press-ian tribes, I over heard some journalists talking about Sofia Coppola's infamous Godfather role - and how bad it was. I thought, " Wasn't that like twenty years ago? Hasn't she grown into a director of substance? Are you ever gonna let it go?" Grabbed my double chocolate brownie and diet coke and slipped out into the hall before I started something...

Room 217. There she was. I tiny little thing - yet every ounce of being filled with talent - in my opinion. It's hard for a gal to be a director in "Boy's Town." Not to mention having a father that's a bonifide legend [as in Francis Ford]. On the crust of it you'd be right to think, "She has it made…" But here nepotism is frowned upon and you have to really prove yourself to withstand the sea of naysayers. Well, she has. Her new film Lost in Translation is brilliant. It's a soft delicate story of people and the truth behind emotions and unexpected, unconventional, realationships. It's an anti-Hollywood formula film that Sofia wrote and directed and technically only her second soiree on film as lord and master, the mega-popular Virgin Suicides being her first.

Enough chitter let's get to the chat:

Emily: Howdy

Sofia: Hello!

Emily: There are so many elements in Lost in Translation that seem, well frankly, autobiographical...true?

Sofia: It came from all my trips to Japan and to that actual hotel- the different experiences. I went there for Virgin Suicides and stuff - so it definately came from just kind of my observations of Tokyo…and yeah, there's definitely parts I relate to in both the Bill Murray character and Scarlett Johansson's character

Emily: Was it easier to slip into one character or the other for you?

Sofia: Really, I liked writing both…I just imagined what Bill Murray would say- in that situation. The role was written with him in mind - always. Charlotte [Scarlett's character] is more me. Then it's kind of people I knew - combined.

Emily: Your movies have -- moods.

Sofia: Yeah I guess I like movies that are atmospheric, less plot driven. For me, I like making movies that sustain a mood-a feeling. It's more about that. A feeling.

Emily: Bill Murray is phenomenal in this - but he really isn't the actor one says, 'High drama? Straight emotion? We gotta get Bill Murray!" How'd you decide on him?

Sofia: [laughter] Really, he was just who I imagined as I was writing this. I was a fan of his and wanted to work with him. He has such a great combination of being hysterically funny and this heartbreaking face and expressions-I wanted the character to have that emotional range. I wanted to see him in a kimono! [Laughter]

Emily: You do an amazing job with the direction here. Confess do you bully the help? [Laughter] I mean they usually come with their own "style" of performance. How do you extract them?

Sofia: [laughter] I like the sort of really restrained feeling where it's not all-extroverted action. I like setting the tone and as we are working a scene you guide them towards one direction or another. I like that more withdrawn direction - where everything is sort of under the surface.

Emily: How much did Bill improv?

Sofia: He did improvise a lot. I mean sure there were scripted scenes - but he did improvise. There are certain scenes like the photo shoot or Suntory? We would just throw things at him and he would just react and crack us up to the point we'd have to reshoot because I was hysterical! And the scene in the sushi restaurant…

[Bill Murray interrupts us….]

Bill: You having fun in here?

Sofia: [turning bold red and instantly quiet - like a star-struck fan] Hi Bill, this is Emily Blunt…

Bill: [ H nods in my general direction ala Todd!] Where's the sandwiches?

Emily: Sit. Join.

Bill: Nope, it's her thing…I'm out here when you're done.

Emily: Okay he's gone [knowing he was in the room's hall towards the door] so he's really that much of an A**hole to work with?

Bill: I heard that you! I'm watching you!

Sofia: [just dying] oh…oh…[laughter]

[Murray's a big big comedy god in my eyes…"Star wars, it's nothing but Star Wars…remember folks to tip your waitress'" and so forth are indelibly stamped from childhood upon my developing mind… I am crushed he'd rather inhale a roast beef sandwich from the catering tray then sit and join…but I'll survive.]

Emily: The film has many misunderstandings between cultures scenes. My Japanese friend was in tears during the waiting room scene and the Suntory photo shoot scene- of course she knew exactly what the translator was saying to Bill's character Bob and said it was brilliant. The Suntory commercial's Japanese director tells Murray detailed anal retentive direction and the translator simply says, " he wants you to turn left" or " he says turn more right"

Sofia: Yeah? Great. My producer and I were very curious how the Japanese audience would see it. We showed it to the distributors there and they said in some cases they laughed even more then American audiences because there's that stuff. I wanted to make sure it wasn't offensive. How in Japan they switch the R's and L's - we make fun of Americans as well.

Emily: Yeah - you do! You said the film is very personal. It what way?

Sofia: Well, that whole feeling of being in a foreign place. The comradery the two have. I am probably more similar to Charlotte [Scarlett's character] in my life experience but discovery this new place. Friends I've had that are in a totally different place in life - but you're kind of going through a similar thing and being both Americans in this really foreign place. In my early twenties I felt very much like this-what do I want to do-looking at all these things that you know it's nice to talk to someone who's been through it. They kind of become friends in this situation and in "real life" they probably never would have had a friendship…but they are kind of stuck in this hotel.

Emily: Now, the Scarlett character Charlotte is kind of on the fringe of celebrity. She's watching her photographer husband be groped by the "celebrity" and kind of invisable. Hmm...this has to be autobiographical?

Sofia: Oh, yes. With Spike [Jonz her husband] and my father [Francis Ford Coppola]- there's a lot of activity around them and you're kind of tagging along. It's a specific kind of thing. In one way I like being able to observe it. But I remember being eight at the Cannes film festival with my dad and all the crazy paparazzi were around - they were oblivious to the fact I was even there. They had no boundaries - they forget your a person and they grab you trying to get to him. It definitely made an impression on me.

Emily: You resist the A- typical older actor with the younger girl fornication scenes. Bravo! And thank you!

Sofia: [laughter] yeah, I just wanted to make it more like real life-life's not like that. I like these moments that make an impression on you and they don't have to turn into "something else." They still stay with you and have an impact on who you are.

Emily: I think there are a lot of male directors that…

Sofia: Would have had them get it on [laughter]

Emily: Exactly! I thought it was very interesting - do you think it's a sensitively you bring to the field? A big studio or male director would have…

Sofia: Yeah, I mean I never thought-ya probably. I know what you mean. It would have been a whole other movie-I wanted it to be about a real relationship, I didn't want it to turn into "that."

Emily: Okay-everyone who's seen the film wants to know….what's Murray whisper in Scarlett's ear at the end?

Sofia: [laughter] Ya…Well, Bill said, "That's between lovers." So I'll stick with that.

END

What a soft yet strong woman Sofia is. Obviously she's got "the eye" for the medium. I am a big fan and can't wait to see the work she continues to create. I think someone said there's thirteen Coppolas presently working in film…that's got to be some kind of dynasty no? Well, if it is - Sofia's the reigning queen of the family tree. Damn - I forgot to ask for her ah-dorable cousin Nic's number----drat!

See Lost in Translation immediately - it's a great great film on so many levels.

 

 



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