While watching actress Diane Lane tour Southern France in Eleanor Coppola’s first motion picture, Paris Can Wait, I thought: This movie will appeals to women and lovers of good food and travel.
Eleanor Coppola is the wife of Academy Award winning filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, and mother to filmmakers Sofia and Roman Coppola. She caught the movie-making virus from her family while in her 70s. Married to Francis for 54 years, she accompanied him with her children while he made such blockbuster films as Apocalypse Now.
Later, Eleanor helmed behind-the-scenes documentaries for her husband and daughter. After telling a friend about taking an unexpected road trip through Europe with a business associate of her husband, her friend recommended she turn the journey into a movie.
Paris Can Wait stars Academy Award nominee Diane Lane (Best Actress, Unfaithful, 2002), who plays Anne, the wife of Hollywood producer, Michael (Alec Baldwin). She is at a crossroads, assessing her future with a dear yet distant husband, worrying about her young adult daughter getting ready to launch into the world, and a career (running a New York City dress shop) on hold.
At the film’s start, Anne and Michael are in the South of France at the Cannes Film Festival. Anne longs for precious couple time with her busy, inattentive husband. When Anne suffers an earache and can’t fly to Paris, her husband’s kind, yet quirky French business associate Jacques (filmmaker Arnaud Viard) offers to drive Anne to the City of Light. What should take an afternoon, becomes a few days of gastronomic gallivanting throughout the countryside with eye-opening adventures at every turn. The journey reawakens Anne’s sense of self and joie de vivre.
I learned that the success of the movie earned Eleanor the SXSW Gamechanger Award while sitting next to the 80-year-old first-time director at a lovely lunch at Bouchon Beverly Hills. She discussed her life, her success and frustrations in writing, directing and producing Paris Can Wait.
Jill Weinlein: You took an extraordinary and vibrant trip across France to film the sights and indulge movie views with haute cuisine. How did you stage all the delectable delights?
Eleanor Coppola: I hired my Napa Valley friend and chef Maria Helm Sinskey to create all of the meals in the movie. The menu needed to go with the dialogue in the script.
Jill Weinlein: How long did it take you to make Paris Can Wait?
Eleanor Coppola: Since I am a “Late Bloomer,” it was hard to get financing. No one wanted to give money to a 70 plus-year-old woman and first time movie producer. I don’t have sex or violence in my movie and the movie appeals mainly to women. It took six years to get the financing and 28 days to shoot.
Jill Weinlein: Diane Lane is the perfect protagonist. She is beautiful and smart. How did you choo9se your cast–Lane, Baldwin and quirky Arnaud Viard?
Eleanor Coppola: Lane had worked on four of my husband’s films. She helped me get Alec Baldwin onboard after writing an intelligent letter to him that stated: “This film would be good karma for you.”
Jill Weinlein: What’s next for you in film making?
Eleanor Coppola: Making films was never on my bucket list. I’m more of an observer, and documentaries are my favorite films to make. With documentary films the action goes right by you. I’ve made two short 22-minute films. There are not a lot of films for women ages 50+, however we are a big population. I’m working on a longer feature film for this audience.
Jill Weinlein: What do you hope viewers will take away from watching Paris Can Wait?
Eleanor Coppola: Appreciate every moment. Smell the roses, taste new foods and drink wine. Find your passion or path in life. There will be twists and turns, but try new things.
Jill Weinlein: Speaking of wine, do you have your own wine label?
Eleanor Coppola: Yes, I created a red blend made with Syrah grapes from Napa and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from Sonoma. It’s one of the Francis Ford Coppola Winery wines. I designed the deco textile label and named it Eleanor.
Paris Can Wait debuted in movie theaters in May 2017 and now is available on Blu-ray, DVD and digital for home viewing by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.