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Sofia Coppola Mimics Hollywood Life In 'Somewhere'

Sofia Coppola was nominated for an Academy Award for her film <em>Lost in Translation</em>. Her new project, <em>Somewhere,</em> won the Gold Lion prize at the Venice Film Festival.
Damian Dovarganes
Sofia Coppola was nominated for an Academy Award for her film Lost in Translation. Her new project, Somewhere, won the Gold Lion prize at the Venice Film Festival.

Sofia Coppola's latest film is about a Hollywood actor who seemingly has it all on the surface. But in between the more public moments of his life, Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) is bored and depressed. His life is intellectually and emotionally empty, and he compensates with an endless stream of pills, alcohol and random one-night hookups in his suite at the Chateau Marmont, the Hollywood hotel famous for catering to raucous celebrities.

Coppola, who wrote, produced and directed the film, says she wanted to show a side of the movie-star lifestyle that people don't normally get to see.

"I wanted to show what happens in between the more public moments [of an actor's life,]" she says. "When I was writing the script, there were a few stories in the news about a couple of really successful actors and performers having personal crises, and it looked like they were having this fun party lifestyle -- and from there, I tried to imagine what [Marco's] life would be like the next morning."

Marco's life gets turned upside down when his 11-year-old daughter, Cleo (Elle Fanning), moves in with him and he's forced to re-examine his superficial existence.

Coppola tells Terry Gross that she based the 11-year-old daughter in her film on the daughter of a Hollywood friend but also tried to work in experiences she remembered growing up as the daughter of Francis Ford Coppola.

"I remember being in a casino with my dad, because he used to like to write scripts in casinos, and him explaining craps to me," she says. "And it was always exciting as a kid to get to go on a trip or around a world where kids aren't normally brought into."

But she says there are major differences between the disconnected father in her movie and her relationship with her own father.

"My dad was always very engaged. He always included us, and my parents are still married after many years, so the situation is different. But I tried to put in things that I remember about him into this character who's very unlike him -- that bigger-than-life person," she says.

She points to one scene in the movie, where Marco takes his daughter to an Italian film festival and orders every flavor of ice cream for her in the hotel.

"That's the kind of thing my dad would have done," she says. "I remember one time, I think I had the flu, and I was on my own with my dad. My mom was doing something, and I remember he made me every kind of ice cream concoction he could come up with. So things like that stay in my mind as fun memories of that kind of dad."

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