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Sofia Coppola on Bill Murray, Nicole Kidman, and the Movie That Made Her the Second Woman to Win Best Director at Cannes

Sofia Coppola shares the inspirations behind her latest projects, including her new feature film, The Beguiled, which on Sunday won her the Best Director Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.


Photograph by Roe Ethridge, Styled by Tina Chai; Hair by Jimmy Paul for Bumble and bumble; makeup by Dick Page for Marc Jacobs Beauty at Statement Artists; Set Design by Ian Salter at Frank Reps; lighting designer: Chris Bisagni; digital technician: Jonathan Nesteruk; photography assistants: Will Englehardt, Alessandro Magi; fashion assistant: Amanda Day

On Sunday, Sofia Coppola became the second woman to win the Best Director Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, a remarkable landmark in the history of a 70-year-old festival that has awarded its top honor, the Palme d’Or, only once before to a female filmmaker.

That woman was Jane Campion, and Coppola made sure to thank her as “a role model” for “supporting women filmmakers” in remarks delivered by juror Maren Ade, herself a director, in Coppola’s absence.

The Beguiled, which premiered at Cannes Film Festival and opens in the U.S. on June 23, is set during the Civil War, but like everything Coppola creates, it has a sense of timelessness.

Sofia Coppola wears Calvin Klein Jeans Established 1978 jeans; Cartier bracelet and watch; stylist’s own shirt.

Photograph by Roe Ethridge, Styled by Tina Chai; Hair by Jimmy Paul for Bumble and bumble; makeup by Dick Page for Marc Jacobs Beauty at Statement Artists;

From her first feature films, The Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation (for which she won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay), Coppola has always been inspired by popular culture. Who but

Coppola could reimagine the biography of Marie Antoinette with post-punk panache and a soundtrack that included Bow Wow Wow’s 1980s hit song “I Want Candy”?

Coppola’s vision as a filmmaker is informed by all manner of imagery and artifacts, so we asked her to deconstruct some of her latest projects, including The Beguiled, which was filmed in and around New Orleans and stars Nicole Kidman alongside Coppola muses Kirsten Dunst and Elle Fanning, as well as two commercials she created for Cartier and Calvin Klein.

A Guided Tour to Sofia Coppola’s Inspirations by Sofia Coppola Herself

“Me and my producer Youree Henley filming The Beguiled in New Orleans. He understands what’s important to me—all the details. He makes it happen and keeps it fun. I wanted a work uniform, so Julie de Libran at Sonia Rykiel made this jumpsuit for me.”

Courtesy of Sofia Coppola

“It was so great to work with Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman. Colin was a good sport about being our token male, and you can’t take your eyes off Nicole!”

Courtesy of Sofia Coppola

“Here is Kirsten Dunst as the teacher at the Farnsworth school in The Beguiled, with her students, played by Angourie Rice, Elle Fanning, Addison Riecke, and Emma Howard.”

Courtesy of Sofia Coppola

“A William Eggleston photo (Untitled, 1974) that I had in mind when shooting some of the girls in the film together.”

Copyright Eggleston Artistic Trust, Courtesy of David Zwirner, New York/London

“Working with Elle is always a pleasure. It was fun to see her walking around in those frilly skirts.”

Courtesy of Sofia Coppola

“I also love this photo, Woman with Blue Bow, by Jo Ann Callis, from 1977. I saw it in the newspaper and ordered her book Woman Twirling. It reminded me of the feeling of femininity and frustration I wanted to achieve in The Beguiled.”

Courtesy of Rosegallery and the Artist

“I took this snapshot on the set of The Beguiled, with my Contax T2.”

Courtesy of Sofia Coppola

“This photo of Bill Murray always makes me smile.”

Courtesy of Mark Seliger/Condé Nast

“The artist Sara Cwynar’s Picture of Pens, 2015, is currently on the bulletin board in my office.”

Courtesy of the Artist and Cooper Cole, Toronto

Fiorucci was my favorite label as a kid, and I’m so excited it’s being revived with designs from the archives. The graphics, which were always amazing, are being collected in a new book. “

Courtesy of Fiorucci Archive

“Romy Schneider, in Chanel, in Visconti’s The Job (1962)—her style in this film is the best! I would love to lounge around a palazzo like that.”

Alamy Images

“When Cartier asked me to do a commercial for the Panthère watch I instantly thought of Hutton and that era of sophisticated and glamorous women in the late ’70s/early 
’80s, around the time the watch first came out. (Those were the women I grew up admiring.) The Australian actress Courtney Eaton, who is so cute and nice, and is so natural in front of the camera, played the Panthère woman. It’s a fantasy day in her life.”

Courtesy of Cartier

Lauren Hutton with Richard Gere in American Gigolo, another favorite of mine!”

Alamy Images

“When Calvin Klein approached me about the project, I thought about the Sam Haskins books I loved when I was in my 20s. [An image from the photographer’s Five Girls, 1962, above.] I found my old books and used them as a starting point to create the mood I was going for.”

Courtesy of The Sam Haskins Estate 2017

“I took this photo on the set of an underwear commercial I did for Calvin Klein. It was fun to think about how to do an underwear campaign that could be sexy and playful without being embarrassing. I was so glad to be able to cast great women I like and who are all smart and cool.”

Courtesy of Sofia Coppola

“I took this photo on the set of an underwear commercial I did for Calvin Klein. It was fun to think about how to do an underwear campaign that could be sexy and playful without being embarrassing. I was so glad to be able to cast great women I like and who are all smart and cool.”

Courtesy of Sofia Coppola
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As always, her mood boards featured images from the quirkiest fringes of the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s—a time of authenticity, when personal style and photography weren’t so micromanaged by professional image-makers.

The Beguiled is based on a decidedly more macho film by Don Siegel from 1971 starring Clint Eastwood. But Coppola has always been attracted to a specific sort of woman, and in her version, a wounded Union soldier (played by Colin ­Farrell) is rescued by a group of young ladies who are virtual prisoners in a school for girls.

Since the onset of the war, they have not been able to leave the premises and have not laid eyes on a man; their reaction to their male charge is a toxic brew of desire and rage. In the end, sisterhood prevails, but the victory is bittersweet. As with most of Coppola’s heroines, their real triumph is their individuality.

Nicole Kidman Has Taken a Lot of Risks on the Red Carpet, and They Always Pay Off

Nicole Kidman (Photo by Barry King/WireImage)

Barry King/WireImage

Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise at the Director’s Guild of America in Hollywood, California.

Ron Galella/WireImage

Nicole Kidman (Photo by Barry King/WireImage)

Barry King/WireImage

Nicole Kidman (Photo by Barry King/WireImage)

Barry King/WireImage

Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise during “Eyes Wide Shut” Los Angeles Premiere at Mann Village Theatre in Westwood, California, United States.

SGranitz/WireImage

Nicole Kidman during 9th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Jeff Kravitz/Getty Images

Nicole Kidman (Photo by Barry King/WireImage)

Barry King/WireImage

Nicole Kidman during 53rd Annual Golden Globe Awards at Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, United States.

Ron Galella/WireImage

Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise (Photo by Kevin Mazur Archive/WireImage)

Kevin Mazur Archive/WireImage

Nicole Kidman in Tom Ford for Gucci. (Photo by Gregory Pace/FilmMagic)

Gregory Pace/FilmMagic

Nicole Kidman

S. Granitz/WireImage

Nicole Kidman (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)

S. Granitz/WireImage

Nicole Kidman at the The Kodak Theater in Hollywood, California (Photo by Jim Smeal/WireImage)

Jim Smeal/WireImage

Actress Nicole Kidman arrives for the 80th Annual Academy Awards at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood, California on February 24, 2008.

AFP/Getty Images

Nicole Kidman arrives at the Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton January 20, 2002 in Beverly Hills, California.

Gregg DeGuire/WireImage

Nicole Kidman during The 76th Annual Academy Awards – Arrivals at The Kodak Theater in Hollywood, California, United States.

SGranitz/WireImage

Nicole Kidman during The 62nd Annual Golden Globe Awards – Arrivals at Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles, California, United States.

SGranitz/WireImage

Actress Nicole Kidman arrives on the red carpet for the 68th annual Golden Globe awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, on January 16, 2011.

AFP

Actress Nicole Kidman arrives at the 17th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 30, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.

Barry King/FilmMagic

Nicole Kidman arrives at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards held at the Kodak Theatre on February 27, 2011 in Hollywood, California.

Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Nicole Kidman arrives at The 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards held at Staples Center on February 13, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.

Steve Granitz/WireImage

Actress Nicole Kidman arrives at the 45th annual CMA Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on November 9, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

Nicole Kidman arrives at the 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton hotel on January 15, 2012 in Beverly Hills, California.

George Pimentel/GettyImages

Nicole Kidman attends the “The Paperboy” premiere during the 65th Annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 24, 2012 in Cannes, France.

Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

Nicole Kidman arrives at the 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 13, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California.

Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Nicole Kidman attends the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 10, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.

Larry Busacca/WireImage

Nicole Kidman attends the World Premiere of “Paddington” at Odeon Leicester Square on November 23, 2014 in London, England.

Karwai Tang/WireImage

Nicole Kidman arrives at the 87th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 22, 2015 in Hollywood, California.

Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage

Nicole Kidman arrives at Women In Film 2015 Crystal + Lucy Awards at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza on June 16, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.

Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

Nicole Kidman attends the opening ceremony and “Grace of Monaco” premiere at the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival on May 14, 2014 in Cannes, France.

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Watch: The Best Advice Sofia Coppola Received From Her Dad, Francis Ford Coppola: “Don’t Wait for Permission”

The Best Advice Sofia Coppola Received From Her Dad, Francis Ford Coppola: “Don’t Wait for Permission”