“I wrote ‘Somewhere’ in Paris,” Sofia Coppola told me over lunch in New York. “It was right after my daughter Romy was born and I was a little homesick for California.” Coppola started thinking about the Chateau Marmont, the legendary hotel in Hollywood, which she had frequented in the early Nineties. “I wanted to write something minimal and moody,” she said. “I love L.A. movies like Shampoo from the Seventies and American Gigolo from the Eighties. I thought we needed an L.A. movie for this time.” Somewhere, which won the top prize at the Venice Film Festival in September and will be in theaters December 22, seems to exist in its own particular universe. Johnny Marco, portrayed by Stephen Dorff, is an actor living at the Chateau while he recovers from a broken arm. His daughter, Cleo, played by Elle Fanning, comes to visit unexpectedly and interrupts her father’s movie-star ways. As she did in Lost in Translation, Coppola deftly strikes a balance between engagement and dislocation: Johnny and Cleo have a deep bond, but they’re also strangers. Somewhere is profoundly intimate—its sense of interior life aided by the fact that so much of the film is set in hotel rooms. “Hotels always give you a sense of possibility,” explained Coppola. “They take you out of your life.”


“Somewhere is the first movie I’ve directed since having a kid. I have pictures of me on my dad’s lap on the set of the Godfather II and my daughter Romy visited the set one day. We were shooting Stephen and Elle having burgers in the lobby. Romy said “When Mama says actiong we have to be quiet.”


“During the Lost in Translation promo, I stayed at the Chateau Marmont for two weeks. Colin Farrell was taying there then, and I thought of him and a bunch of actors I’ve met when writing the character of Johnny Marco. Later in the film, when Johnny’s dirfting back to his movie-star-around-the-hotel life.”


“There’s a Bruce Weber photo of Matt Dillon in bed that inspired Johnny Marco’s style. For Somewhere I was thinking about photos by Helmut Newton. Helmut lived at the Chateau Marmont in the winter in Room 49. Stephen’s charcter lives in the same room, a floor above.”


“Stephen took his job seriously, practicing Guitar Hero for hours — I think they’re playing a song by the Police here. Stephen stayed in Room 69 during the shoot. He was in character the whole time.”


“I met a ton of young actresses for the role of Cleo. Elle was the first girl we met, we kept comparing all the other girls to her. In this scene, she’s being dropped off at camp in Nevada. I didn’t give her much direction because she’s so natural.”