Read an intriguing Interview with Sofia Coppola, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, Director and cast of The Beguiled. To find out what it was like to bring this all-star woman cast film to life.
Take a trip back in time with Sofia Coppola’s newest film The Beguiled, now playing in select theaters. Read my full The Beguiled Movie Review Here and find out why this should be the next Must Watch on your summer list this year.
While I was in Beverly Hills, California I was able to first screen this wonderful film, and then sit down with Sofia Coppola, Kirsten Dunst, and Elle Fanning in this exclusive interview.
Interview with Sofia Coppola, Kirsten Dunst, and Elle Fanning
There is something amazing you feel when you are in a room full of beautifully smart women who not only exhibit Girl Power, but they live it. While interviewing Sofia Coppola, Kirsten Dunst, and Elle Fanning we dug deeper into what it felt like to be an almost all-woman cast. As well as what it was like to portray these characters as well as working with each other and the beautiful director Sofia Coppola.
Feminism and The Beguiled?
This takes place in a time where there’s not really a coinage for the term feminism yet and but yet, this has this feminist streak to it. Is there a sort of specter of modernity that you have to modulate in the writing and in your performances?
SOFIA: I just imagine what it was like for the women at that time and how they were raised to be these lovely ladies and the whole idea of etiquette and charm and catering to men was really how they were raised, and then all of a sudden.
They were on their own and had to learn how to survive, just imagine that these characters had to find their strength, especially Miss Martha, to protect these women. I just thought about the human aspect of these women of what their lives were like and how they had to, you know, find the strength to survive.
And also, like all the manners and etiquette that we’ve learned, you see in the beginning, but then when it comes down to it, it kind of all goes out the window, and definitely, we forget about all of that.
KIRSTEN: And for me, I just felt like the whole house was so suffocating, you know. So by the time we bring this enemy in, for my character, there’s so much opposition inside of her because she’s trying to be a good Christian and a good example for the girls.
Yet there’s this enemy, and then on top of it, she has so much repression, and then she’s under Miss Martha’s thumb. So Edwina’s just ready to explode. They’re dealing with desire in a way that they weren’t told about, weren’t prepared for, and they’re human.
Where was Sofia Coppia When She Was Announced The Winner of Best Director at Cannes?
KIRSTEN: It was so funny. She was at Coney Island with her kids. Yeah. I was watching in Florence, and I pulled it up on the computer to watch. I was like toasting with champagne, and she’s in Coney Island. That’s Sofia.
SOFIA: She sent me a picture of her watching it too, with champagne. I’m like, “I’m at Coney Island having hot dogs.” But then when I got home, I had champagne with Sarah, our editor, and Stacey, our costume designer, and we had so many great women working on this, and so we celebrated.
How Sofia Started Work On The Beguiled Project
SOFIA: Yeah, I think after I finish a project I have to see kind of what mood. There’s always a reaction to the one right before and after I did “Bling Ring” I really wanted to do something beautiful. I was so sick of that kind of pop culture that it just wasn’t aesthetic. I wanted to do something beautiful, but that’s all I knew. And then my friend told me about “The Beguiled” and said, “I think you need to see that and remake it.
I thought I would never remake someone else’s film. But then when I saw it I knew what she was talking about, that it was right for reinterpretation and that it was a story about a group of women told from a ‘70s man point of view of the soldier finding them and I thought oh, I just kept thinking about it.
And it reminded me of “Virgin Suicides”. There was something about it that I could connect to that aesthetic of these, you know, women trapped in this house. And so I was curious too, I started, I got the book, it was out of print, and it’s told from the female character’s point of view.
I start thinking about what it was like for them and to set up this world, this isolated world of these women living together and then this enemy soldier comes in. I love, the premise is so loaded, and to me, the story has so much about the power between men and women shifting back and forth and so heightened in this southern atmosphere. I’ve always loved the south. It’s so exotic to me. Elle’s a southerner here.
ELLE: I’m from Georgia. Got to bring that up.
How Sofia wanted this film and the characters to stand out from the original film as well as the book.
SOFIA: Yeah, I really tried to forget the other film and just approach it in a new way and I knew that they would bring so much. We try to think about where those characters are coming from and make them human and then I looked at Kirsten and Elle for their characters to bring their take on it.
KIRSTEN: Yeah, I only watched the movie once a long time ago when Sofia was first thinking about remaking it and then I never watched it again and I read the book, well most of Edwina’s parts in the book and I don’t know, I did my own thing. But the woman that played the part in the previous
film was really good I thought.
This was very feminist for that time period, what does feminism mean to Sofia, Kirsten, and Elle, especially with the changing landscape in Hollywood in general?
SOFIA: To me it just means equal rights and, of course, we believe that it’s important. And as far as in film, I think, I’m interested in stories that have a female point of view. We’re half the population so I’m happy to put that out there. And more and more you want different points of view out there and showing complex female characters that we can relate to.
Were There More Great Female roles a long time ago?
SOFIA: There’s less. There’s more in the ‘40s.
KIRSTEN: I was like well I don’t even know if that movie would be made today about a girl, a young girl kind of going and save her boyfriend, but it’s Natalie Woods movie and she’s so amazing in it, but I don’t know if it would be made today, which is really sad. But it seemed like a long time ago there were a lot of even better roles and there aren’t now.
ELLE: I watched “Splendor in the Grass” recently.We were joking about that, remember to “Harold and Maude”, how that would never get made now. It’s like an old lady and a young boy.
SOFIA: Yeah, I’d like to see you pitching that one.
What it’s like working with an all women.
KIRSTEN: From a very young age I did “Little Women” and I worked with Sophia when I was 16 so I’ve always had that opportunity. Like In bring it on. I’ve always wanted to work with other women. So I think it’s kind of like you navigate your own career and your taste level and what you want to surround yourself with I think comes through in your career and it wasn’t new to me and I just had the best time.
ELLE: Yeah, because the last, and I hadn’t really thought about it, but the last three movies that I’ve done have all been with women directors and it wasn’t something, Sofia and then Melanie Laurent and then Reed Morano, all three women director and Reed Morano, all three women director, and Reed was the DP on it, too. I didn’t know. But I didn’t necessarily choose it specifically because of that, it just turned out that way that they were making those stories and but it was really
But I didn’t necessarily choose it specifically because of that, it just turned out that way that they were making those stories and but it was really exciting. I think for me also because it was in our film there are so many women at all different ages, which is so great, and it was also kind of strange because I felt oh I’m normally the youngest person on set always so not being the youngest I was kind of like in the middle, I was like this is weird, I’m the middle child.
I’ve never been a middle child. Yeah, they’re going to do homework and I had graduated school and so I was just like well I normally used to be that so. You remember they would they would all go to do school and I was like, “Oh I don’t have to go.”
KIRSTEN: Yeah, I don’t have to go anymore.
How Did Sofia incorporate her daughters into her girl power film?
SOFIA: They were so proud when I won the director award. They went and told everyone at school. I went to speak to my daughter, my ten-year-old’s class, and they were all so proud and telling everyone, “My mom won a director award.” So they had heard about it. It was really sweet.
And I was so proud because even my first grader was telling someone in the class said, “Oh she told the class.” I was like I didn’t know that she even understood that. So that was sweet. I was lucky that my husband could watch our girls while we’re filming because I don’t want to take them out of
school, but they came and visited, but it was a lot to juggle.
They would visit the set a few times and they came by when I was editing. But I’m glad that he
was able to be there to take them to school while I was in New Orleans filming, just to have the support of my mom who stayed with them one week when we couldn’t be there.
So just, you know, I just appreciate all the support of the people that helped me so that I could do this. Because it’s so intense when you’re shooting a film and now I’m looking forward to getting the movie out and having a vacation and getting to be with my kids and focus on them.
KIRSTEN: They’re so cute. They yell action sometimes when they were on set.
Girls Gone Wild Civil War Edition
SOFIA: The story, I mean I hope when you’re watching it, it’s tense and but when we were filming we were having fun and we were enjoying being in New Orleans and it wasn’t tense the whole time on set.
KIRSTEN: No, we had so much fun. We did a little Girls Gone Wild. Civil
ELLE: War edition.
KIRSTEN: Because the craft service table they have plastic cups and a lot of them red Solo cups, which makes it look like…
ELLE: A kegger.
KIRSTEN: These like children are drinking beer or something. But we, Elle and I were like running up flashing our ankle. It was all like fun. And one of the girls who Hamilton they made a whole complicated
ELLE: Yes. Like the musically, like that Musically app. Yeah, they were really into Hamilton, the younger girls.
KIRSTEN: It was sweet. They all became friends and really were a little group. So it wasn’t all tension on set.
ELLE: No. It really was not at all. Yeah.
A Sexy Colin Farrell Calendar
SOFIA: And Colin was a good sport. We were joking when he was doing like the outdoor gardening, we were taking photos to make a calendar, which I need to find those.
ELLE: We had like a sexy calendar.
The Evolution of Kirsten, and how it’s like working with Sofia then and now?
KIRSTEN: In “Virgin Suicide” I was so young, and there were things in that movie
SOFIA: I was, too. I think I was in my 20s.
KIRSTEN: Yeah, we were both young. But I always looked up to Sofia like an older cool sister. And as the years go on the gap closes as you get older, but I just remember a lot of the things in that movie, I’d never done in real life. I was a very innocent 16-year-old. So like having to jump on Josh in the car and doing these things, I was so nervous about, but I was also so lucky because it was in Sofia’s hands, and it was a transition movie for me, you know, from being considered a child into
So I was kind of like people saw me in a different light that was so nice the way it was handled and I had Sofia as a role model for such a young girl. Sixteen so, I had got you what I mean. It’s true though, you know. You’re so influenced at that time and so I had a good role model at a young age.
“Lord of the Flies” In Skirts
SOFIA: That’s so weird. I watched “Lord of the Flies” as a reference to this movie.
Sofia’s approach to capturing the women’s interactions within the frame and even off the frame because as females, we’re nuanced in different ways?
SOFIA: Yeah, I mean I definitely think there’s a hierarchy with women, and especially Elle and the group together, and when I see that, like you say that with like sister-in-law’s, there’s always power dynamics and all of that. So I think whenever there’s a group of women there are certain dynamics of a group, especially with women.
And I was more interested in I feel like men communicate verbally and physically, but women, they say so much I think through a glance or their tone and some women will like give you like a glance or tone and a guy will be like, “What, she didn’t say anything.
Like you read in so much to it.” So like I love the way women communicate in that way that only other women understand and the story was so right for all those glances and moments and wanted to try to show that.
And I was more interested in I feel like men communicate verbally and physically, but women, they say so much I think through a glance or their tone and some women will like give you like a glance or tone and a guy will be like, “What, she didn’t say anything. Like you read in so much to it.”
So like I love the way women communicate in that way that only other women understand and the story was so right for all those glances and moments and wanted to try to show that.
Fun Fact: Beyoncé’s Lemonade Video Being Shot At The Same Location!
Were there any Challenges with the period and the time and the etiquette?
Moments that seemed too difficult or really funny with wearing the corsets and costumes and things?
SOFIA: Yeah, you know, we didn’t know there are a few plantation houses that were real plantations that they allow filming and we didn’t know that Beyoncé had shot there until these guys They saw the chair.
ELLE: We saw that chair. The little girls. Yeah, they saw the chair and then looked it up and then it was the exact same chair. And then we asked the owners, I was like mad that they didn’t tell us. I was like, “You didn’t tell us that they shot ‘Lemonade’ here?” And they were like, “Oh yeah, yeah, Beyoncé was here.” Like this is a way bigger deal then that you mention it.
SOFIA: Like I bet she didn’t stay where we stayed though. I bet she didn’t stay at the Hamptons Inn. Yeah, I wonder about that. But we all had to take turns taking photos of being Beyoncé, then switching and being Serena Williams. Everyone got their own little. So but that was a coincidence.
I mean for me I wanted a modern audience to be able to connect to it, even though it’s set in another time, but we wanted it to be believable and accurate of the time. And I think the hardest part was the dialogue because as you improvise the dialogue you’re like oh it has to sound real of the period, but you don’t want it to sound so foreign that it doesn’t feel natural.
So that, to me, was a challenging part and even we would have to come up with stuff on set. But then we did, we spent like a week before rehearsal, before shooting we rehearsed and we had an etiquette teacher and a dancing instructor and a Civil War reenactor teaching us about the bandaging and we had a sewing person.
KIRSTEN: Oh yeah, we did that.
SOFIA: Miss Gina was the dance teacher.
KIRSTEN: We had prayer time.
ELLE: Yes, Bible study.
KIRSTEN: Bible study with Nicole.
SOFIA: So we tried to get into what it was like for these women and how they spent their days and so, you know, the learned sewing and the different aspects. And the etiquette teacher helped us a lot for understanding, you know, how they carried themselves at that time.
Kirsten, even when you’re playing a serious character you have this exuberance to your characters.
Was it hard to kind of tamp that down for this?
KIRSTEN: Tamp down my exuberance?
ELLE: I didn’t see a dimple this whole movie.
KIRSTEN: I did my job.
SOFIA: I know I love when I was talking about Kirsten in this role and a friend of hers said, “There’s nothing repressed about Kirsten. Like how’s she going to do that?”
KIRSTEN: Gretta said that.
SOFIA: Oh Gretta, yeah.
KIRSTEN: It’s fun to play a role like this so I was very tightly wound. It’s all about the inner, there’s a lot going on with Edwina, but it’s all underneath. But then I think that scene with Colin, and Sofia, we were like let’s make a shocking sex scene, you know. Yeah. And we didn’t kiss in that scene and Edwina I don’t even think knows what she was going to do necessarily when she first enters that room.
SOFIA: Try and calm him.
KIRSTEN: She’s a virgin obviously so it’s like there are so many things happening with her, but then, you can only express it in such a little dialogue here, a little dialogue there, but she’s very emotionally distraught.
SOFIA: When I was writing it I could picture Kirsten and Elle in these roles and I knew that they would bring so much to it because they just brought so much more than I could imagine so it was really fun to watch. And I think Kirsten’s part was so hard because she’s so much is under the surface, but you feel all that, and Elle always cracked me up. One of my favorite scenes is you hoeing the grass. I love that she’s just so put out to have to do anything. And she’s supposed to be the most spoiled.
ELLE: It was, I felt like I had never played a character that was also kind of so comedic. Because I got to say a lot of funny lines and you allowed me to kind of be playful with her. I had a good time with that.
Casting Colin Farrell
SOFIA: Yeah. No, all the women I had in mind, but I didn’t know who could be the man, he has to be really masculine and he has to be able to be intriguing and charming too, you know, a 12 year old and a woman in her 40’s and if he was just like a cute hunk, he had to be complicated and you’d believe that he could really captivate them.
And not too creepy, too. Exactly. It was a balance to find so many elements and when I met Colin he was so charming, and the character in the book actually was an Irish immigrant so him and his natural accent make him even more exotic.
I just think because he’s so charming and charismatic and we want him to be sexy and masculine in contrast to this feminine world. So I felt he fit the bill. To find someone that they could all relate to and it wouldn’t be too creepy.
KIRSTEN: You know what I just remembered. He was the most concerned about, he was like, “I got to lose weight. I got to lose weight.
ELLE: Yeah, he’s also the most naked in the film. Like he is the most naked in this movie.
KIRSTEN: Yeah, it’s so funny, he was living off like nuts and seeds and he had to get his weight down.
ELLE: Yeah, then he drove to get a hamburger all the way back to New Orleans from the plantation just to get one hamburger because he hadn’t had any.
KIRSTEN: He was the one that had to show his physique. He was very nice about letting us objectify him.
Why there was minimal Music and How the Film Progresses to become Darker and Moody?
SOFIA: Yeah. Thanks, I wanted to really have as much tension as we could and the sexual tension and what’s going to happen, and so with the sound, I thought keeping the music really minimal, and there’s just kind of these ominous tones underneath and letting the sound of the cannons and the nature that usually when you have music it kind of breaks the tension.
And so to really try to keep that tension suspended the whole film as much as we could. And for the look of the film, we worked with this great cinematographer, Philippe Le Sourd, we shot on film, and I wanted it to have this beautiful, very kind of feminine, gauzy look at the beginning that’s not threatening, and then as the story turns, it gets darker.
And also to feel the claustrophobia of them all trapped in the house with this dangerous enemy. So that was the thinking was to change the tone as the story gets darker, and hopefully, you don’t notice it happening until you’re kind of in it and get into the southern gothic feeling of it.
All Good Things Must Come To An End!
All good things must come to an end, this is the end of the interview and I hope you enjoyed reading the many insights of what these beautiful women had to say about this wonderful film. Have you been able to see The Beguiled showing in select theaters near you today!