Who could have thought that, back in 1977, while Francis Ford Coppola was speaking to his five-year-old daughter, Sofia, that she would become the third generation of Oscar-winning Coppola? One star in-waiting that would reach the heights of her masterful father. Well, if you listen to the recording of that conversation you maybe won’t be so surprised.
The home clip, brought to us by NPR, is a touching insight into the lives of two of modern cinema’s acclaimed directors—even though, at the time, one of them is likely more concerned with cartoons than war epics. In the recording, Ford Coppola, the acclaimed director of The Godfather Trilogy plus so many others, asks his young daughter to speak to her older self.
“So now, we’re making another tape. January 23rd in the great year 1977, Sofia,” he begins during the tape as any good father would, introducing Sofia and providing her with a guide of how the next few minutes will go down. Once she understands that she is meant to be speaking to her older self she inadvertently gives “big lady” Sofia a reminder of the innocence of childhood. “I’m a little fishy and I swim in the water and I have two brothers who are fishies,” she continues with glee.
Ford Coppola then pushes the idea further saying, “What do you think you’ll be like when you’re grown up?” Again, likely without thought, young Coppola gives a quite brilliant and affirming answer: “I am Sofia, and when I grow up, I want to be middle-sized. Not fat and not skinny. I wanna be a teacher or maybe I might be a nurse. I like being Sofia because there’s a lot of fun things that I know how to do.”
The recording then goes on to have Sofia sing the national anthem of the Phillippines, where Coppola Snr had been filming his war epic Apocalypse Now, and provide some counting in Cantonese to show off her insatiable talent for learning. It’s a talent that would likely see her glean some tips on directing from her timeless father.
After some small-time appearances in Francis Ford Coppola’s films (a The Godfather III appearance that was utterly scrapped would see her turn to direct as an alternative), Sofia Coppola would go on to establish a career removed from her father’s presence and define herself on her own merit.
Winning the Oscar for ‘Best Original Screenplay’ for Lost In Translation, it’s clear that her work is starkly different but yet as valued today as Francis Ford Coppola was in his day. But before they were part of a directing dynasty, Francis Ford Coppola and Sofia Coppola were just father and daughter sharing a special moment.
Below you can listen to that moment as Francis Ford Coppola interviews his five-year-old daughter Sofia Coppola back in 1977.