Francis Ford Coppola says the backlash over daughter Sofia Coppola’s performance in “Godfather Part III” is entirely misplaced.
The father-daughter directing duo talked with the New York Times to reflect on the dump-truck of criticism unloaded upon Sofia by critics and audience members. Sofia, a teenager at the time, filled in for a sick Winona Ryder as Michael Corleone’s daughter Mary. It was a quick turnaround and Sofia was doing her father a favour.
“It seemed like he was under a lot of pressure and I was helping out,” Sofia recalled. “There was this panic and before I knew it, I was in a makeup chair in Cinecittà Studios in Rome having my hair dyed…I wasn’t taking things super-seriously. I was at the age of trying anything. I just jumped into it without thinking much about it.”
“Paramount had a list of many fine actresses who were older than I felt the character should be,” Francis added. “I wanted a teenager. I wanted the baby fat on her face.”
Sofia was dragged through the mud with critics who called her performance “amateurish” and near-movie-wrecking. The teen actress took the brunt of the impact as well as she could; however, being sent on a press tour was not ideal.
“It was embarrassing to be thrown out to the public in that kind of way. But it wasn’t my dream to be an actress, so I wasn’t crushed. I had other interests. It didn’t destroy me,” she said. “It taught me that as a creative person, you have to put your work out there,” Sofia added. “It toughens you up. I know it’s a cliché but it can make you stronger.”
Francis feels the blame was misplaced and should have rested solely on his shoulders.
“They wanted to attack the picture when, for some, it didn’t live up to its promise,” the filmmaker explained. “And they came after this 18-year-old girl, who had only done it for me. The daughter took the bullet for Michael Corleone — my daughter took the bullet for me.”
Francis is currently working on a recut of “Godfather Part III” titled “The Godfather Coda”. Actress Diane Keaton insists the recut will have people reconsidering their criticism of Sofia.