He was born in 1939 in Detroit, USA, but he grew up in a New York suburb in a creative, supportive Italian-American family. His father, Carmine Coppola, was a composer and musician. His mother, Italia Coppola, had been an actress. Francis Ford Coppola graduated with a degree in drama from Hofstra University, and did graduate work at UCLA in filmmaking. He was training as assistant with filmmaker Roger Corman, working in such capacities as sound-man, dialogue director, associate producer and, eventually, director of Dementia 13 (1963), Coppola's first feature film. During the next four years, Coppola was involved in a variety of script collaborations, including writing an adaptation of "This Property is Condemned" by Tennessee Williams (with Fred Coe and Edith Sommer), and screenplays for Is Paris Burning? (1966) and Patton (1970), the film for which Coppola won a Best Original Screenplay Academy Award. In 1966, Coppola's 2nd film brought him critical acclaim and a Master of Fine Arts degree. In 1969, Coppola and George Lucas established American Zoetrope, an independent film production company based in San Francisco. The company's first project was THX 1138 (1971), produced by Coppola and directed by Lucas. Coppola also produced the second film that Lucas directed, American Graffiti (1973), in 1973. This movie got five Academy Award nominations, including one for Best Picture. In 1971, Coppola's film The Godfather (1972) became one of the highest-grossing movies in history and brought him an Oscar for writing the screenplay with Mario Puzo The film was a Best Picture Academy Award-winner, and also brought Coppola a Best Director Oscar nomination. Following his work on the screenplay for The Great Gatsby (1974), Coppola's next film was The Conversation (1974), which was honored with the Golden Palm Award at the Cannes Film Festival, and brought Coppola Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay Oscar nominations. Also released that year, The Godfather: Part II (1974), rivaled the success of The Godfather (1972), and won six Academy Awards, bringing Coppola Oscars as a producer, director and writer. Coppola then began work on his most ambitious film, Apocalypse Now (1979), a Vietnam War epic that was inspired by Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness (1993) (TV). Released in 1979, the acclaimed film won a Golden Palm Award at the Cannes Film Festival, and two Academy Awards. Also that year, Coppola executive produced the hit The Black Stallion (1979). With George Lucas, Coppola executive produced Kagemusha (1980), directed by Akira Kurosawa, and Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985), directed by Paul Schrader and based on the life and writings of Yukio Mishima. Coppola also executive produced such films as The Escape Artist (1982), Hammett (1982) The Black Stallion Returns (1983), Barfly (1987), Wind (1992), The Secret Garden (1993), etc.
He helped to make a star of his nephew, Nicolas Cage. Personal tragedy hit in 1986 when his son Gio died in a boating accident. Francis Ford Coppola is one of America's most erratic, energetic and controversial filmmakers.
|Eleanor Coppola||(2 February 1963 - present) 3 children|
Often casts his own real-life extended family members in his films. In the case of the Godfather films, their characters' relationships to "Michael Corleone" often paralleled their real-life relationship to Coppola. He cast his sister, Talia Shire, as Michael's sister Connie, and his daughter, Sofia Coppola, as Michael's daughter Mary - named for Coppola's other daughter. In addition, Diane Keaton said that she modeled her performance as Kay Adams after Elanor Coppola, since both Kay and Coppola are protestants who married into Italian Catholic families.
Caught polio when he was a child. During his quarantine, he practiced puppetry.
Some sources say he is the uncle of Alan Coppola, but Alan's name does not appear on any family tree authorized by the Coppola family.
Like Martin Scorsese, Coppola was a sickly youth, a case of polio which allowed him time to indulge in puppet theater and home movies.
Received an M.F.A. in Film Production from the University of California in Los Angeles (1967).
Since 1978, owner and operator of a Rutherford, California vineyard making Rubicon wine.
Coppola began his winery enterprise by buying portion of historic Inglenook estate in 1975. His success in field is explored in book "A Sense of Place" by Steven Kolpan, 1999.
Brother-in-law of Bill Neil.
Was in the early stages of developing a script for a fourth Godfather film with Mario Puzo which was to tell the story of the early lives of Sonny, Fredo and Michael. After Puzo's death in July of 1999, Coppola abandoned the project, stating that he couldn't do it without his friend.
As of May 2002, the number of Coppola-family members appearing in or contributing to filmmaking stands at thirteen, spread over three generations.
Francis Ford Coppola has been in competition with Bob Fosse on several occasions. In 1972, Coppola was nominated for the Best Director Oscar (The Godfather (1972)), but lost to Fosse (Cabaret (1972)). In 1974, Fosse was nominated for Best Director (Lenny (1974)) but lost to Coppola (The Godfather: Part II (1974)). In 1979, both were nominated as directors (Apocalypse Now (1979) and All That Jazz (1979)), but both lost. When Fosse won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival (Coppola won the previous year), he tied with Akira Kurosawa, whose movie was produced by George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola.
Has released his own line of specialty foods.
As a child, his bedroom was covered with pictures of his favourite film star, Jane Powell. When he discovered she'd married Geary Anthony Steffen, Jr., he tore them all down.
His wife arranged for him to meet Jane Powell as a 40th birthday present.
Out of all his peers who rose to fame and power in the 1970s "Golden Age" era, he is perhaps the only filmmaker still married to his first wife.
Made a commercial for Suntory whiskey with legendary Japanese director Akira Kurosawa in the 1970s, an event which later influenced a salient plot point in his daughter Sofia's movie, Lost in Translation (2003).
Was voted the 21st Greatest Director of all time by Entertainment Weekly.
Biography in: John Wakeman, editor. "World Film Directors, Volume Two, 1945- 1985". Pages 227-234. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1988.
George Lucas said that he based the "Han Solo" character from the Star Wars trilogy on Coppola.
Serves as the Honorary Ambassador of the Central American nation of Belize in San Francisco, California, USA. On their official roster of worldwide honorary consulates found on their official website, he is referred to as "His Excellency Ambassador Francis Ford Coppola," although he is not a Belizean citizen.
Four of his relatives have been involved in the Star Wars films of his friend George Lucas. His brother-in-law, Bill Neil, worked at Industrial Light and Magic during the production of the original trilogy. His daughter, Sophia, and son, Roman, played a handmaiden and Naboo guard, respectively, in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999). His nephew, Christopher Neil, who worked as a dialogue coach for both Francis (on Jack (1996) and The Rainmaker (1997) and Sophia (on The Virgin Suicides (1999)), did the same job on Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005)--a job for which Coppola recommended him. In addition, his late older son was named Gian-Carlo. In Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999), there is a Naboo vehicle called the Gian Speeder.
Directed 12 different actors in Oscar-nominated performances: Geraldine Page, Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Robert De Niro, Michael V. Gazzo, Lee Strasberg, Talia Shire, Kathleen Turner, Andy Garcia and Martin Landau. Brando and De Niro won their Oscar for their performances as Vito Corleone.
In 1975, he accepted the Oscar for "Best Actor in a Supporting Role" on behalf of Robert De Niro, who wasn't present at the awards ceremony. De Niro won for his performance in Coppola's The Godfather: Part II (1974).
President of jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 1996
He is among an elite group of seven directors who have won Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay (Original/Adapted) for the same film. In 1975 he won all three for The Godfather: Part II (1974). The others are Leo McCarey, Billy Wilder, James L. Brooks, Peter Jackson and Joel Coen and Ethan Coen (the brothers co-produced, co-directed and co-wrote No Country for Old Men (2007) with each other).
Was involved in both movies that his father, Carmine Coppola, and his daughter, Sofia Coppola, won Oscars: he was the director of The Godfather: Part II (1974), which won his father an Oscar for "Best Music, Original Dramatic Score", and he was the executive producer of Lost in Translation (2003), which won his daughter the Oscar for "Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen".
There are three generations of Oscar winners in the Coppola family: Francis, his father Carmine Coppola, his nephew Nicolas Cage and his daughter Sofia Coppola. They are the second family to do so, the first family is the Hustons - Anjelica Huston, John Huston and Walter Huston.
Since the mid-90s (and possibly even earlier), he has been writing and re- writing an original screenplay entitled "Megalopolis". Described as "one man's quest to build utopia set in modern-day New York," the project has been delayed due to Coppola's constant tinkering with the script and the fact that the director is attempting to finance it himself. Several A-list actors have had their names attached to it and a great excess of second-unit footage (shot in 24p HD) has been captured by Coppola and the film's cinematographer, Ron Fricke of Baraka (1992) fame.
Currently owns 2 resorts in Belize and 1 in Guatemala. They are the Blancaneaux Lodge in the Pine Ridge Region, Turtle Inn in Placencia and La Lancha near Tikal in Guatemala.
He, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg presented Martin Scorsese with his first ever Oscar for Best Director for The Departed (2006). All four directors were part of the "New Hollywood" movement in the 60s and 70s.
Was named after his grandfather Francesco Pennino.
Briefly attended the New York Military Academy where Troy Donahue was his classmate...until Coppola decided to drop out early on, so he called a taxi and left school. He and Donahue later worked together on The Godfather: Part II (1974).
His middle name was given to him to honor Henry Ford. Francis was born at the "Henry Ford" Hospital in Detroit; Francis's father participated in a music show that Henry Ford really liked and they, in fact, met. So the middle name Ford was to honor Henry Ford himself. (Source: Francis Ford Coppola, "Inside the Actor's Studio").
As a hold-over from his days directing theater when he was young, he always engages his cast in a lengthy rehearsal period before filming. Occasionally, he finds film actors that are not used to this will bristle against the process.
In 1986 his 22-year-old son, Gian-Carlo, died in a boating accident.
Has an IQ of 117.
His first two Oscar-winning screenplays were for Patton (1970) and The Godfather (1972), both movies also won for Best Actor. In both of these films, both leading actors - George C. Scott and Marlon Brando, respectively - turned down their awards (although it was the second Oscar which Brando won).
Is the only director to direct two actors in Oscar-winning performances in the same role: Marlon Brando in The Godfather (1972), and Robert De Niro in The Godfather: Part II (1974). Since that time, only two other actors have been nominated for roles in which a previous actor already won an Oscar: José Ferrer and Gérard Depardieu as Cyrano de Bergerac, and John Wayne and Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn.
Three of the movies he co-wrote have a minor, but significant, character who acts arrogantly and tough towards those around him: General George S. Patton from "Patton" (portrayed by veteran actor, George C. Scott), Captain McCluskey from "The Godfather" (portrayed by veteran actor, Sterling Hayden) and Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore from "Apocalypse Now" (portrayed by veteran actor, Robert Duvall). George C. Scott won the Oscar for his role and Robert Duvall was nominated. Sterling Hayden received neither. Further, neither demise is shown of Patton or Kilgore, yet McCluskey's demise was shown.
Was plagued with demeaning nicknames in his childhood, such as "Ichabod" in military school, which was also one of 24 schools he attended before he entered college.
Says his greatest directorial influence is Elia Kazan.
One of seven directors to have won the Palme d'Or twice at the Cannes Film Festival, the others being Bille August, Alf Sjöberg, Emir Kusturica, Shôhei Imamura, Luc Dardenne & Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Michael Haneke.
Happiness is happiness.
On his film, Apocalypse Now (1979), at the 1979 Cannes Film Festival: "My movie is not about Vietnam... my movie is Vietnam."
What the studios want now is "risk-free" films but with any sort of art you have to take risks. Not taking risks in art is like not having sex and then expecting there to be children.
I just feel that at a certain point you have to go back to the beginning again. The best thing for me at this point in my life is to become a student again and make movies with the eyes I had when I was enthusiastic about it in the first place.
In a sense, I think a movie is really a little like a question and when you make it, that's when you get the answer.
All of a sudden, there are great Japanese films, or great Italian films, or great Australian films. It's usually because there are a number of people that cross- pollinated each other.
Anything you build on a large scale or with intense passion invites chaos.
I bring to my life a certain amount of mess.
I probably have genius. But no talent.
Lots of people have criticized my movies, but nobody has ever identified the real problem: I'm a sloppy filmmaker.
"Wall Streets got interested in film and communications, and these are the people who brought you the Big Mac. In the past twelve years, I can't think of one classic they've made." (1996)
Basically, both the Mafia and America feel they are benevolent organizations. And both the Mafia and America have their hands stained with blood from what it is necessary to do to protect their power and interests.
If the movie works, nobody notices the mistakes... If the movie doesn't work, the only thing people notice are mistakes.
If you don't bet, you don't have a chance to win.
I think if there was a role that Robert De Niro was hungry for, he would come after it. I don't think Jack Nicholson would. Jack has money and influence and girls, and I think he's a little bit like Marlon Brando, except Brando went through some tough times. I guess they don't want to do it anymore
I had a little fantasy that goes like this: I'm getting to be an influential person in San Francisco; what if I and five other powerful guys with cigars got together in a smoke-filled room to decide who would be the next mayor of San Francisco? We'd do it because we're good guys and we really want the city to be wonderful for everybody. Then I thought, what's the difference between five good guys holding that kind of power and five bad guys? Just good intentions, and intentions can be corrupted.
Initially, the idea of a sequel seemed horrible to me. It sounded like a tacky spin-off, and I used to joke that the only way I'd do it was if they'd let me film 'Abbott and Costello Meet the Godfather'- that would have been fun. Then I entertained some Russian film executives who were visiting San Francisco and they asked me if I was going to make 'The Godfather Part II'. That was the first time I heard the phrase used; I guess you could say I stole the title from the Russians. In short, it seemed like such a terrible idea that I was intrigued by the thought of pulling it off. Simple as that.
On Akira Kurosawa: Most directors have one masterpiece by which they are known, or possibly two. Kurosawa has at least eight or nine.
The easiest way to make sure a movie is successful is to make a traditional movie very well. If you make a slightly unusual movie or [don't] exactly follow the rules as everyone sees them, then you get in trouble or, like with Apocalypse, wait 20 years to hear that was really good.
When you lose your kid, it's the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning for about seven or eight years. Then there's the first morning when that's not the first thing you think of. You get brave.
The Godfather changed my life, for better or worse. It definitely made me have an older man's film career when I was 29. So now I say, 'If I had my older career when I was young, as an older man, maybe I can have a young film-maker's career.'
I didn't particularly want to make Godfather II! I always felt that The Godfather was a perfectly good drama and ended all the aspects of the story: it resolved the character and was really meant to be one movie. It only got to be a second and a third out of the greed of companies wanting to make more of them. On Godfather II, I had just as much control over the production as I had with Youth Without Youth (2007) because it was my own. Because The Godfather was so successful, I could do anything I wanted. But even though maybe Godfather II was a good film or a better film, I still feel that Godfather I was complete. I only did Godfather II because I thought it would be interesting to make a film about a man and his father at the same age and tell the two stories in parallel, which is what I did. And that was an achievement.
I think The Godfather: Part III (1990) had a lot of good things about it. It had good potential. I think it was made a little too rushed because it was made in one year and they wanted it out that Christmas. It was a big, complex, difficult story. I think if I had spent more time writing it I would have solved or defined some of the issues better, rather than doing it while we were shooting. Also I think the loss of Robert Duvall as a character made a difference. As I look back on it, he was a very important part of that story. Clearly he was the most important character still living from the other movies. So I think ultimately losing the Hagen character was more than I was able to write my way out of so quickly. I could have done it had we not started shooting right away.
Jack (1996) was a movie that everybody hated and I was constantly damned and ridiculed for. I must say I find Jack sweet and amusing. I don't dislike it as much as everyone, but that's obvious - I directed it. I know I should be ashamed of it but I'm not. I don't know why everybody hated it so much. I think it was because of the type of movie it was. It was considered that I had made Apocalypse Now and I'm like a Marty Scorcese type of director, and here I am making this dumb Disney film with Robin Williams. But I was always happy to do any type of film.
Steven Spielberg is unique. I feel that the kinds of movies he loves are the same kinds of movies that the big mass audience loves. He's very fortunate because he can do the things he naturally likes the best, and he's been very successful. Martin Scorsese, I think, is different. If Exxon went to Martin and said, "Martin, we feel you're one of the best artists in the world today and we're going to finance any movie you want to make because we believe that at the end of your life those will be very valuable movies," he would be making very different movies from what he's making now. I think he probably has scripts that he's trying to get someone to enable him to make and then another one comes on and they say, "Look, we have Jack Nicholson and so on and so on. Would you do it? And of course he says, "Okay. Not that he doesn't like it or they're not good movies, but I think that his heart is maybe in more personal filmmaking.
[on The Cotton Club (1984)] It was a nightmare. It was deceptive. I was sucked in without knowing what was going on. It was like a pretty girl who gets seduced. I didn't realize that the only reason I was getting sweet-talked and enticed by Robert Evans to do The Cotton Club was that he needed me to get the money. It was a terrible experience. I like Gregory Hines very much, Richard Gere is basically a good guy, Diane Lane is a sweet person. But it was Bob Evans again. He was back and trying to take control of it. About 20 to 30 minutes were taken out of the Gregory Hines-and-his-brother storyline, the back story. I'd like to see it as the long version. But I don't think it will ever happen.
There's something in my heart that isn't yet fulfilled. Maybe it's a sickness. But I'm definitely not satisfied. It's not do to with money - I'm richer than I ever thought I would be. It's not fame - I'm more famous than I've ever been. It's something else. Something personal. I would like to leave ten films that I have written, original work. That would satisfy this itch. 
I wanted to make films like Youth Without Youth (2007) and the one I'm doing next in my 20s. Instead, I made The Godfather (1972). In a way, Youth Without Youth is a natural continuation of what I was doing with The Rain People (1969) and The Conversation (1974). I made The Godfather and it just totally changed my life. Suddenly I was an important director. I wasn't this young, experimental filmmaker that I'd hoped to be.
I have always been a little disappointed about One from the Heart (1982) because I really wanted to make it more like live cinema. I really wanted to shoot it with 12 cameras and edit it all in the camera. At the last minute I chickened out because the photographer chickened out. So for me with One From The Heart, I always feel that I should have gone that last yard. It was only the cinematographer coming to me saying, "Oh please, I don't want to shoot it with 12 cameras because I can't light it." I think, no question, it was beautiful photographically - he was right. But to me the experiment was a little incomplete. It had wonderful music, wonderful songs. It would be nice if people liked One From The Heart because it was my big failure.
[on The Godfather (1972)] I had been so conditioned to think the film was bad - too dark, too long, too boring - that I didn't think it would have any success. In fact, the reason I took the job to write The Great Gatsby (1974) was because I had no money and three kids and was sure I'd need the money. I heard about the success of The Godfather from my wife, who called me while I was writing Gatsby. I wasn't even there. Masterpiece, ha! I was not even confident it would be a mild success.
[on Ingmar Bergman] My all-time favorite because he embodies passion, emotion and has warmth.
[on Marlon Brando] Brando wants to do what you want, but he wants people to be honest and not try to manipulate him.
The Godfather (1972) films are personal. And they are, even though our family were never gangsters, and we only heard about somebody who knew a gangster. But still, the real day-to-day reality of the Italian family that was put into the gangster film was based on my family and what I remember as a kid. You can't make films without them being personal to some extent.
I'm in a unique situation. I'm like now an elderly retired guy who made a lot of money, and now I can just, instead of playing golf, I can make art films.
I don't think Godfather ever should have had more than one movie, actually. It was not a serial, it was a drama. The first movie wrapped up everything. To make more than one Godfather was just greed. Basically, making a movie costs so much money that they want it to be like Coca-Cola: you just make the same thing over and over again to make money, which is what they're doing now. But Godfather was not really a serial, you know?
[on Marlon Brando] Marlon was never hard to work with. His behaviour was a little eccentric on the set. He was like a bad boy and did what he wanted. But as an actor he was never hard to work with.
Hollywood doesn't really exist. What we're talking about now is the "big industry" film - films that are packaged as a certain idea of action, and in many cases violence or thrills or mystery. These films aren't expressions of the writer, but a compendium of ideas that could work as a blockbuster hit. That's not Hollywood - it's just wherever people want to make a lot of money. The less expensive a film is, the more ambitious the ideas and themes can be. And the converse is true - the more a film costs, the more salary everyone makes, the more limited the subject-matter has to be.
I think Tetro (2009) is the most beautiful film I've ever done in terms of how it was made. I don't know what people will make of the picture, but just the filmmaking part of it, I've learnt to put it together beautifully.
As I grow older, I realise that I always wanted to be a writer. With The Godfather (1972) being such a success, I was launched into a more industry-type career, which is wonderful, but I always wanted to be the director of my own material. I have always credited the writer of the original material above the title: Mario Puzo's The Godfather, Bram Stoker's Dracula, or John Grisham's The Rainmaker. I felt that I didn't have the right to Francis Coppola's anything unless I had written the story and the screenplay. I view Tetro (2009) as the second film of my second career. From now on I'm always going to writing the scripts, and every film will be personal. I'm going to be the kind of filmmaker I wanted to be when I was beginning.
[on Unforgiven (1992)] We developed that script, David Peoples and I. We worked on it for months. The film was made based on that script we finished. Nobody wanted to make it. I'd even sent it to Clint Eastwood to act in it. I don't know whether he read it. Finally after two or three years of paying the options, I let it go and then Clint picked it up.
I was offered Thirteen Days (2000). I said I would do it but I had a very experimental way of doing it. My idea was: what if in that moment of history I got called up and they said, "Listen, Mr Coppola, the President is about to go through an extremely difficult period, he's got to make some terrifying, heartbreaking decisions and he wants you to document it. But you can't go close to him because he's going to be in many difficult meetings through the night. So what you can do is have a 16mm team using very long lenses. We don't want them to know you're shooting." And then make it that way. That's what I wanted to do, but they didn't have the courage to do it. So I said, "Make it like a regular movie." They did a pretty good job.
[on Robert De Niro] I like Bob, I just don't know if he likes himself.
In the 60s they were four filmmakers who represented cinema and influenced everyone who came after: Fellini, Kurosawa, Bergman and Kubrick.
[on Akira Kurosawa] One thing that distinguishes Akira Kurosawa is that he didn't make a masterpiece or two masterpieces, he made, you know, eight masterpieces
[on Akira Kurosawa] Akira Kurosawa is one of the greatest directors ever to work in the cinema. His films meant an enormous amount to me when I was starting my own career.
I think cinema, movies and magic have always been closely associated. The very earliest people who made films were magicians.
Here's a tip to young directors. They never fire you midweek.
[on George Lucas] In many ways, because of Star Wars (1977), we were deprived of the films that he was going to make and would have made. All the merchandising and financial success of those films aren't one-tenth to what he is worth as an artist and a filmmaker.
... I think people have realized that "The Godfather" was never sequel material. I've always maintained there should have been one "Godfather," though I'm proud of the second one, and I thought the third should have been considered a coda and not called "The Godfather: Part III."
[on if he'd be annoyed if the studio decided to make more sequels to "The Godfather"] Well, yeah, because I feel that all films shouldn't be sequels. Sequels are not done for the audience or cinema or the filmmakers. It's for the distributor. The film becomes a brand.
The only TV I would be interested in exploring would be live television. There's no substitute for a team of artists performing at their peak live when failure is possible. It's a high-wire act. That excites me.
I think a sequel is a waste of money and time. I think movies should illuminate new stories.
I don't think there's any artist of any value who doesn't doubt what they're doing.
|The Godfather (1972)||$175,000|
|American Graffiti (1973)||20% of gross|
|The Godfather: Part II (1974)||$1 million to write, direct and produce the film|
|The Cotton Club (1984)||$2,500,000 + % of the gross|
|The Godfather: Part III (1990)||$6,000,000 + % of profits|
(September 2005) Visiting Istanbul for vacation.
(July 2006) He visited Buenos Aires, Argentina for 4 days.
(June 2007) He visited Buenos Aires, Argentina, making castings with Argentine actors and looking for locations for his film Tetro (2009).
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