It is no surprise that he knows Coppola: her parents – the acclaimed director Francis Ford Coppola and the artist, costume and set designer Eleanor – had an apartment in this part of Paris when she was a child; she rented a place next door to the Flore while working on her third film, the epic Marie Antoinette, in 2004.She and her partner, the French musician Thomas Mars, still have an apartment in the area, and it’s clear from the way the manager greets her that she’s a regular here.'So I’ve met them, off and on, for a few years,’ she says.'But we didn’t really get to know each other until I was in Paris for Marie Antoinette, and we ended up living in the same neighbourhood.’ They seem happy together, but after a short, unsuccessful marriage to the director Spike Jonze in her twenties – widely assumed to be the inspiration for Scarlett Johansson’s failing relationship in Coppola’s 2003 film Lost in Translation – she is not rushing into another wedding. 'But I guess after being divorced I wasn’t gung-ho about marriage.’ Having children has changed her views on work.
So this character popped into my head, but I was interested in that whole kind of world from being at a distance from it.’ If Lost in Translation was a celebration of Tokyo, revelling in the sheer strangeness of its neon streets to casual Western visitors, Somewhere is more ambivalent about LA. He goes back to the room where he lives at the Chateau Marmont hotel in Hollywood and finds parties in full swing, women in his bed, and he medicates his boredom with drink, cigarettes and pills.
With Somewhere, she says she was thinking about becoming a parent when writing the screenplay, so what little plot there is inevitably concerns that.
Set in Los Angeles (with a brief spell in Milan), it maps out a territory somewhere between the contemporary American television series Entourage and Fellini’s 1960 classic La Dolce Vita, revolving around a jaded film star and divorced father (Stephen Dorff) whose life shifts when he is forced to spend some real time with his 11-year-old daughter (luminously played by Dakota Fanning’s younger sister, Elle).
It wasn’t until Sofia was in her twenties and enrolled at art school that she actually lived in LA, and it was later still that she began to see the place clearly enough to write about it.
After Romy was born Coppola took a year off in Paris, although she still managed to fit in a few creative projects: she directed a television commercial for Miss Dior’s Cherie fragrance, and designed a chic capsule collection of shoes and bags for Louis Vuitton, the luxury label overseen by her friend Marc Jacobs.