It’s a wonder any of it tracks, except that Coppola’s sensibility is so specific, and her actors so eager to please her, that each scene feels distinctly of a piece. At its Venice Film Festival premiere in early September, the film received strong reviews and secured Spaeny the Volpi Cup for best actress, while an emotional Priscilla Presley told Coppola, “You did your homework.”
“I still can’t believe our movie came together,” Coppola said now. And though mounting it was difficult, she recalled that while on set, she was in her element like never before.
“In the beginning, I was just kind of figuring it out,” she admitted, speaking of her career. “And now, making this film ‘Priscilla,’ I felt like, ‘Oh, I know how to do this.’ All the years of experience start to gel.”
LATER IN THE LUNCH, we were interrupted by a 25-year-old who hoped that Coppola would sign her book. She had on the sort of frilly dress that Marie Antoinette would have gone gaga for, with a constellation of arm tattoos that snaked out from underneath her lace sleeves.
“My name is Sofia,” the fan said shyly. “I’m named after you.”
With a quavering voice, the young woman explained that when her parents immigrated from Panama, Coppola’s movies were among the first they watched. That’s how she got her name and accrued, over time, the desire to follow her idol into filmmaking. “You have no idea the impact you’ve had on my life,” the second Sofia said, a tear running down her cheek.
Coppola, who said she lived and worked in a “little bubble,” is always surprised when she meets people who connect this strongly to her work. “A lot of those movies didn’t get seen, and that they are so watched now by a young generation, it’s cool that they speak to them,” she told me.