The Stunning Transformation Of Sofia Coppola

It's true that Sofia Coppola is the daughter of legendary director Francis Ford Coppola, but that's not why she's so successful. Sofia has a style all her own, one that has garnered her both critical praise and a huge fanbase. She is a screenwriter, producer, and director, with eight feature films under her belt, many of which have garnered cult classic status. From the tragic demise of the Lisbon sisters in "The Virgin Suicides" to the rise and fall of a queen in "Marie Antoinette" to the bratty perpetrators in "The Bling Ring," Sofia has a knack for telling women's stories with her signature mix of arresting visuals and inspired soundtracks.

Sofia has been an actor, a designer, a model, and a muse, but filmmaking is clearly where she shines the brightest. In 2023, she published a book, "Archive," full of photos, collages, and behind-the-scenes looks at her illustrious career, and also released her latest film, "Priscilla," about the love story between Elvis and Priscilla Presley. Sofia has come a long way from bit parts in her dad's films, and her career shows no signs of slowing down. Read on to learn more about Sofia Coppola's stunning transformation.

Sofia Coppola moved around a lot as a kid

As the daughter of renowned director Francis Ford Coppola, Sofia Coppola had an interesting childhood. She was born in New York City but spent a lot of time in different locations across the U.S. and overseas, as her father would take the family along when shooting his films. "I was like an Army brat—always going to different schools in different towns," Sofia told W Magazine.

When the elder Coppola was filming "Apocalypse Now," the family relocated to the Philippines, where Sofia attended kindergarten. "... I have nice memories of the Philippines and its people," Sofia told "It was such a warm culture and a beautiful place. I'd love to go back." She also said she still remembers "Pambansang Awit," the country's national anthem.

Sofia went on to attend grade school in Tulsa, Oklahoma, while her father shot "The Outsiders" and "Rumble Fish." During her teen years, Sofia attended St. Helena High School in Napa Valley, California, where her family owns a winery. "It was hard to always be the new kid," she shared with AnOther, "but I feel lucky that I can be in different situations because I'm adaptable from having all these different experiences."

She began her career acting in her father's films

Sofia Coppola is a prolific director, but she got her start in film on the other side of the camera. She was just a baby when she made her big screen debut as infant Michael Francis Rizzi in "The Godfather." The film was, of course, directed by Sofia's father, Francis Ford Coppola. Sofia and her brothers, Roman Coppola and the late Gian-Carlo Coppola, were often given small roles in their father's movies, with Sofia appearing in "The Godfather Part II," "The Outsiders," "Rumble Fish," and "Peggy Sue Got Married." "My father cast me because I was around, and he loved to include his family in his work," she shared with W Magazine.

While Sofia appeared in a handful of her father's films as a child (under the stage name Domino Coppola), she didn't really make much of an impression until 1990's "The Godfather Part III," in which she replaced Winona Ryder for the role of Mary Corleone. Unfortunately, critics panned Sofia's performance and the film itself. "It was embarrassing to be thrown out to the public in that kind of way," she told The New York Times. "But it wasn't my dream to be an actress, so I wasn't crushed. I had other interests. It didn't destroy me."

Sofia Coppola was a model and designer before becoming a filmmaker

Sofia Coppola's films are known for their visual pleasing aesthetic, so it makes sense that the director has a fashion background. When she was 15, Coppola landed a coveted internship in Paris with Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld. She was worried the Chanel designers might see her as just a spoiled rich kid, but she ended up becoming something of a muse. "Now, if I have an idea for them, I'll send them a sketch. As a joke, I told them to make Chanel clogs, and they made them—and sent me a pair," she told W Magazine in 1993.

In addition to inspiring one of the world's most iconic fashion houses, Coppola began modeling. "It started with Steven Meisel wanting to take my picture," she explained to the magazine. Although Coppola claimed she didn't feel like a model, she loved that the industry was beginning to embrace more unconventional looks, saying, "I think it's cool that people are now into more diverse ideas of beauty. 'Cause when I was in high school, the pretty girls were blonde and perfect."

In 1994, Coppola and then-boyfriend Spike Jonze produced a fashion show for X-Girl, a clothing line designed by Sonic Youth frontwoman Kim Gordon. That same year, Coppola debuted her own line, Milk Fed, which featured nylon dresses, pinstripe pants, and baby tees. Her foray into fashion also fostered some close friendships, namely with longtime pal and collaborator Marc Jacobs.

She appeared in music videos in the '90s

Sofia Coppola's unique beauty, eye for fashion, and Hollywood pedigree solidified her status as an It Girl in the '90s, as did her cameos in a variety of music videos. Coppola would go on to direct music videos as well, but in the age of MTV she spent more time in front of the camera.

In 1992, she was featured in The Black Crowes' "Sometimes Salvation" video looking strung out yet glam, and, that same year, she made a cameo in Madonna's "Deeper and Deeper" video rocking baby braids in her signature long locks. Proving she had range, Coppola also appeared in The Chemical Brothers' 1997 video for "Elektrobank" as a high school gymnast with something to prove.

Her first video appearance, however, was in 1991, playing a dramatic and slightly deranged starlet in Sonic Youth's "Mildred Pierce." The experience proved to be fortuitous, as it was the band's frontman Thurston Moore who recommended Coppola read Jeffrey Eugenides' novel, "The Virgin Suicides." Coppola would go on to adapt the novel into her first feature film.

Sofia Coppola made her directorial debut with 1999's The Virgin Suicides

In 1999, Sofia Coppola's first feature film, "The Virgin Suicides," debuted at the Cannes Film Festival. The movie, about five teenaged sisters and the neighborhood boys who obsess over them, stars Kirsten Dunst, Josh Hartnett, Kathleen Turner, and James Woods. The dreamlike quality of the film's aesthetic, along with its soundtrack and themes of isolation and teen angst, has become something of a cult classic. It also helped put Coppola on the map as a director in her own right. "'The Virgin Suicides' made me a filmmaker," Coppola shared with The Guardian.

Aside from falling in love with the source material, Coppola was drawn to the project for personal reasons. "... when I was 15, my eldest brother Gio died suddenly in a boating accident. This gave me a connection to 'The Virgin Suicides,' which is also about loss," she told The Guardian.

Coppola acknowledges that her father's help was instrumental in making the movie. "We have a family film company, American Zoetrope, so I really had my dad's support ... Although he wasn't there on set very much, he really mentored me," she said. But her father's influence didn't get in the way of infusing the film with her signature style. "My dad ... was a macho filmmaker and his friends were all of that ilk, so I think I really clung to femininity and a kind of girly aesthetic," she told the outlet.

She married fellow director Spike Jonze (and their breakup inspired several films)

In 1999, Sofia Coppola married Spike Jonze, the director of critically-acclaimed films such as "Being John Malkovich" and "Her." The two were friends for years before dating and later getting engaged.

Coppola and Jonze divorced in 2003, months after her film "Lost in Translation" was released. The film centers on a young woman (Scarlett Johansson) in a strained marriage with a successful photographer (Giovanni Ribisi), which led to speculation that it was based on Coppola's marriage to Jonze — so much so that Jonze's friend, director Michael Gondry, confronted her about the depiction. "He scolded me at my premiere, but he apologized ... It came out of him trying to be a good friend to Spike," she told Variety.

In 2013, Jonze released his film "Her," which many saw as a response to "Lost in Translation." In the film, the main character (Joaquin Phoenix) falls in love with an AI-generated female voice amid a harrowing divorce from his ex-wife (Rooney Mara). Although Jonze has never confirmed the movie is based on his own divorce, even Coppola seems to believe it's true. "I know people really like that movie, but I haven't seen it. I don't know if I want to see Rooney Mara as me," she told Variety.

Sofia Coppola dated Quentin Tarantino after her divorce

After Sofia Coppola's divorce from Spike Jonze, she dated another iconic director, Quentin Tarantino. The pair dated for two years and seem to have remained friendly since their split.

In 2010, Tarantino presented Coppola with the Golden Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival for her film "Somewhere." "This film enchanted us from its first screening," Tarantino said (via Vulture). As he was the head of the jury tasked with choosing the winner of the coveted prize, some speculated that Coppola's win was a result of favoritism. Tarantino denied this when questioned after the ceremony, saying, "Being her friend didn't affect me or make me sway the jury in any way. The other members of the jury don't know her at all. They just loved the film" (via Vulture).

In 2017, Tarantino hosted a screening of Coppola's film "The Beguiled" at his Los Angeles movie theater, New Beverly Cinema. A source told Page Six, "Sofia had a 35mm version of her film especially made just for the screening, since Tarantino only projects celluloid film — nothing digital." The source also reported that Tarantino was in the audience "geeking out" during the film.

She and Kirsten Dunst became close friends after working together

Kirsten Dunst has starred in some of Sofia Coppola's most notable films, including "The Virgin Suicides," "Marie Antionette," and "The Beguiled." The two women, aside from sharing a working relationship, have also developed a close friendship. In an interview with W Magazine, Coppola referred to Dunst as "an important collaborator and like a sister to me." She went on to say, "As soon as I met her, we had a shorthand and a rapport."

In an interview with Netflix, Dunst shared the ways in which she felt empowered by Coppola while working on "The Virgin Suicides." "She just gave me a lot of confidence that I carried throughout my career ... She made me feel beautiful for who I was." Dunst has also spoken about how Coppola made her feel better about her smile, while other industry professionals wanted her to fix her teeth. "I remember doing a 'Spider-Man' movie later, and one of the producers was like, 'I need to take you to the dentist! They even fixed my teeth on the poster," Dunst recalled in an interview with Variety. "But I just knew I was never doing that. Sofia is the chicest, coolest girl, and she thinks my teeth are great."

The two women continue to share a close bond, with Dunst showing up to celebrate the launch of Coppola's book, "Archive," at a September 2023 soiree hosted by Chanel at Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles (via WWD).

Sofia Coppola started a family with singer Thomas Mars

After divorcing Spike Jonze and breaking up with Quentin Tarantino, Sofia Coppola found love with musician Thomas Mars. Mars, who was born in Versailles, is the frontman of the French indie band Phoenix. The pair first met on the set of "The Virgin Suicides" when Mars lent his musical talent to the film.

It's unclear when the couple officially began dating, but they have worked together on a number of projects over the years, with Mars contributing his music to Coppola's films "Lost in Translation," "Somewhere," "The Bling Ring," and "The Beguiled." "It's hard to differentiate the work from the private life, but I've always felt a really strong connection watching her movies," Mars shared with Dazed in 2017.

In 2006, Coppola and Mars welcomed their first child, a daughter named Romy, and, in 2010, Coppola gave birth to their second child, daughter Cosima. "I'm always asking working mothers questions," Coppola told People in 2010. "I'm trying to figure it all out because I feel like I'm just learning."

In 2011, Coppola and Mars tied the knot in a small ceremony in Southern Italy where Coppola's grandparents grew up. Several famous Coppola family members were in attendance, and, of course, Francis Ford Coppola walked his daughter down the aisle.

Her film The Beguiled sparked controversy

In 2017, Sofia Coppola released her sixth film, "The Beguiled," a Southern gothic thriller based on the 1966 novel by Thomas P. Cullinan. The film features an all-star cast with Kirsten Dunst, Nicole Kidman, Elle Fanning, and Colin Farrell in starring roles. "The Beguiled" earned Coppola the best director prize at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, making her the second female director in the festival's history to win the coveted award.

But Coppola's adaptation of "The Beguiled" invited a fair share of controversy, as some critics accused the filmmaker of whitewashing, since her version omitted two Black characters present in the novel, as well as in an earlier 1971 film adaptation. But Coppola took the criticism in stride and explained her reasoning for featuring an all-white cast. "Young girls watch my films and this was not the depiction of an African-American character I would want to show them," she told BuzzFeed.

In a statement Coppola gave to IndieWire, she further clarified her position, saying, "I did not want to perpetuate an objectionable stereotype where facts and history supported my choice of setting the story of these white women in complete isolation, after the slaves had escaped. Moreover, I felt that to treat slavery as a side-plot would be insulting."

Sofia Coppola is a strict parent (but daughter Romy became TikTok famous anyway)

In 2023, Sofia Coppola's 16-year-old daughter, Romy Mars, went viral with a TikTok cooking video. In it, she explains that she's grounded for trying to charter a helicopter using her father's credit card so she could visit a camp friend and tries to make a vodka sauce pasta despite not knowing the difference between garlic and onion.

Mars is charming and funny and self-deprecating in the video, and viewers took an instant liking to her. So, why hadn't the world seen her before? Mars explains in the video, " parents' biggest rule is, like, I'm not allowed to have any public social media accounts." She goes on to say, "They don't want me to be a nepotism kid, but TikTok is not gonna make me famous so it doesn't really matter."

Coppola commented on her daughter's brush with fame in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, saying, "We were raised to be so private, and social media is so the opposite of how I grew up. So it was the best way for her to be rebellious." But Coppola also acknowledged that she could see why Mars' video was popular, explaining, "I got lots of compliments on her filmmaking. And comedy. She's funny. But people discussing my parenting publicly is not what I would've hoped for."

Her own experiences helped her relate to Priscilla Presley

In October 2023, Sofia Coppola premiered her eighth feature film, "Priscilla," a biopic about the life of Priscilla Presley starring Cailee Spaeny and Jacob Elordi. The film was a hit with fans and shined new light on the famous love story between the king of rock 'n roll and his young bride.

After reading Presley's 1985 memoir, "Elvis and Me," Coppola became fascinated by her story and could relate to some of Presley's experiences, such as being isolated and losing one's self in a relationship. "In my 20s, I remember having a crush on a guy, and part of it was, if I was with him, then I wouldn't have to develop an identity of my own," Coppola shared with W Magazine. "I was devastated when that relationship didn't work out. But it forced me to find my own personality, and that's a similar story to what happened with Priscilla ..."

Coppola also pointed out to W that moving a lot during her childhood is another "[reason] why I can relate to Priscilla. She actually was an Army brat."

Luckily, Presley was a fan of Coppola's work and felt her story was in good hands. "She is for women, and when she approached me about doing a movie about me, I was moved by it," she told People. Presley seems pleased with the film, stating, "I think it's right on, to be honest with you." Coppola's fans appear to agree.