Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on February 2011

Photo by Merrick Morton

Writer, director, actor, model, fashion designer. These are just some of the labels you could use to describe Sofia Coppola. But with the release of her latest directorial effort, Somewhere, the one most often brought up during interviews is “famous daughter of.”

The film stars Elle Fanning (Phoebe in Wonderland) as the daughter of a Hollywood star, Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff; Blade), whose fame leads to a downward spiral of drugs, sex and ennui. Coppola admits that her experiences growing up with a famous father informed the movie, but insisted at a recent press conference in Tokyo Midtown, “My childhood and the setting of the film are very different.”

Still, the director says she does draw from life when devising her screenplays. “My first daughter was born just before writing the script,” Coppola explains. “I was interested in writing about a parent because it was what was on my mind at the time.” She adds, with a grin, “[My previous film] Marie Antoinette was so girly that I wanted to try something different.”

Somewhere is the second film that Coppola based on one of her original screenplays, after 2003’s Lost in Translation. Like Translation, the setting of the new movie—in this case, LA’s storied Chateau Marmont—plays a vital role. Both Coppola and Dorff, who lived in the hotel throughout shooting, have a long-time connection with the 80-year-old venue. “I always wanted to go,” says Dorff, who grew up within throwing distance of the Marmont. “I always saw somebody cool that I respected.” The bad-boy actor—who as a teen was reportedly kicked out of more than one private school—even celebrated his 21st birthday at the hotel.

So it comes as no surprise that many people are saying Coppola created the role of Johnny Marco with Dorff in mind. While the director doesn’t quite go that far, she explains that her vision of Marco was “a real, all-American movie star, sort of like the Marlboro Man.”

The actor and director also took the time to gush about 11-year-old Fanning, who is already showing talent on a par with her older sister, Dakota. Dorff admits that he was nervous about performing with such a young co-star. “But she went toe-to-toe with me on everything,” he says, adding that over the course of the shoot, the pair developed a close bond. “It felt weird after the movie. I missed her and wanted to call her, but then I thought, ‘That’s weird, she has her own dad.’”

Somewhere, Dorff says, is a very “special, incredibly poetic” film and he implores fans to “be patient and go with Johnny Marco.” Coppola adds, “I hope you feel like you’ve been in Los Angeles for two hours.”

Somewhere opens in Japanese theaters April 2.