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Interview with Sofia Coppola

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Sofia Coppola

Director Sofia Coppola on the set of "Lost in Translation"

Focus Features
Did you write that character with Bill Murray in mind?
I did. I was definitely picturing him and I definitely wrote it for him. I couldn't really think of anyone else.

What did he bring to the role?
I think he's a great actor and I wanted to show his romantic side, and also his more sensitive or emotional side. I love his comedy so I wanted that to be part of it, too. I like seeing him in his quiet moments, alone, talking on the phone. [Those moments] are really heartfelt for me.

How did you cast the Japanese actors? Did you write their lines?
Some of them I wrote. The director of the commercial, I wrote that and then someone translated it. A lot of the other stuff was just improvised with real people we found who are actors.

We had a Japanese casting director but also my friend Stephanie, who knows me and has the same kind of sense of humor and knows what I'm looking for, she would just help us by going out [and finding people]. [We needed] a little ancient man for the hospital and she went into a chess club and found that guy. The hospital director was a real hospital director that just looked like such a character, we just had him be in the scene. Everyone was really surprisingly not self-conscious. The character of Charlie who sings karaoke, that's just this guy I've known for years who has a fashion magazine. I asked him to be in it because I always love watching him at karaoke. A lot of people are just people we met and just asked them to be in it.

Can you talk a little bit about casting Scarlett Johansson?
I first noticed her in “Manny and Lo.” I just thought she had a kind of a striking quality and that low, husky voice. There was something unique about her I liked so I wanted to work with her. When I was working on this I wanted to meet with her and see if she would play the part. Although she's younger, you know the character’s in her early 20’s, I think she pulls it off because she has a sort of maturity. She's not like a hyper kid. I just like the way that she's able to convey feeling without doing much. She' s subtle.

You used Suntory for the commercial. Was that decision made for financial reasons?
No, it wasn't financial. Actually I just wanted to have a real product so it seemed more believable that it was a real commercial. When I was a little kid, my dad and Mr. Kurosawa did a Suntory commercial. I remember seeing a still from it and thought it was funny. That's just from that.

You’re surrounded by creative people. Who do you trust to show your movie to first?
When I finish a script, I always show my brother Roman first. We would bounce ideas off each other and have similar taste. I trust [him] completely and [we] like the same kinds of things, the same kinds of movies and stuff. But when I'm editing my early cuts, I like to show my dad. A lot of young filmmakers bring their movies to my dad because he always gives lots of good editing ideas and notes. He'd be a good film professor.

Yes, he would. But since you’re his daughter, can he really be objective?
Yes. I mean, on the editing, he's able to look at it through the structure. He has these little editing rules that he thinks are really important: “Clarify things in the beginning.” He has these guidelines that he really believes in. It's great to have an objective point of view because I've looked at it too much and I can't really tell what makes sense and what doesn't. I don't think the fact that I'm his kid [comes into it] you know, because he can brutal. I'll take some of [his suggestions] and then not the others that I don't agree with, because in the end, you just want to make your movie.

Interview with Scarlett Johansson

Interview with Bill Murray

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