The Guardian


The film-maker on wanting to be an editor, why she can’t tell lies, and being accused of ruining The Godfather

Interview: Rosanna Greenstreet

Film-maker Sofia Coppola (below) on loving Diana Vreeland and Joe Strummer, and hating the sight of yoga pants outdoors

My earliest memory? The jungles of the Philippines during the filming of Apocalypse Now

Born in New York, Sofia Coppola, 51, started her career as an actor, playing roles including Mary Corleone in The Godfather Part III, directed by her father, Francis Ford Coppola. She went on to become a film-maker, and won a best original screenplay Oscar for 2003’s Lost in Translation. Her 2010 film Somewhere took the Golden Lion at the Venice international film festival, and her remake of The Beguiled won her best director at Cannes in 2017. Her directorial feature debut, 1999’s The Virgin Suicides, is available on

4K UHD, Blu-ray, DVD and digital.

She is married with two children and lives in New York.

When were you happiest?

Driving my convertible over the Bay Bridge when I was 18, listening to Thinking of You by Sister Sledge.

What is your greatest fear?

Being stuck in a project that’s not challenging me, or true to my nature.

What is your earliest memory?

The jungles of the Philippines during the filming of Apocalypse Now.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

Being hard on myself. I don’t want to pass that on to my daughters, so I’m trying to stop.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?


What was your most embarrassing moment?

Being on the cover of a magazine at 18 with the slogan: “Did she ruin The Godfather?”

Aside from a property, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?

An Elizabeth Peyton painting.

What is your most treasured possession?

A Helmut Newton photo of Charlotte Rampling, signed to me from him.

What makes you unhappy?

Yoga pants on the street.

If you could bring something extinct back to life, what would you choose?

The New York nightclub Area.

What scares you about getting older?

Losing your friends.

Who is your celebrity crush?

Joe Strummer.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A magazine editor like Diana Vreeland.

Would you choose fame or anonymity?

Anonymity, with just enough fame to get a good table reservation.

What was the last lie that you told?

I don’t lie: my dad brainwashed me as a kid to never lie, and somehow it worked.

What do you owe your parents?

A life of creativity.

To whom would you most like to say sorry and why?

To a girl we were mean to in first grade.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

My husband and my vocation.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

“Is that too corny?” (When I’m working.)

When did you last cry, and why?

Two weeks before shooting – after some of our financing dropped out – when the producers said I had to cut a week’s worth of scenes out of my script. I was on location and away from my daughters [currently in middle and high school] who I felt were needing a mother.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Making films exactly how I wanted.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

To follow your path and not worry about what to do too much; one thing leads to the next, and you wind up where you’re meant to be.