Sofia Coppola asked Kirsten Dunst to lose weight for ‘The Beguiled’

70th annual Cannes Film Festival - ‘Ismael's Ghosts’ - Photocall

Doesn’t this Variety cover seem like an optical illusion? I swear, I thought Sofia Coppola’s left hand was curled around Kirsten Dunst’s inner thigh. The body language is just a tad awkward. Anyway, Kiki Dunst and Sofia cover Variety to promote The Beguiled, Sofia’s latest film. The film was already made in the 1970s, with Clint Eastwood, but this isn’t strictly a remake. I think Coppola is trying to make it into a more feminist version of the same story. This Variety cover story is about how the film was made, and I honestly enjoyed reading it. Sofia Coppola is such a strange bird, and Kiki is rather raw and honest about what it’s like to be a woman in her 30s in Hollywood. You can read the full piece here. Some highlights:

Dunst on Coppola: “She was always a good influence on me as a young woman. She said to me, ‘I love your teeth; don’t ever fix your teeth.’ I remember doing a ‘Spider-Man’ movie later, and one of the producers was like, ‘I need to take you to the dentist!’ They even fixed my teeth on the poster. But I just knew I was never doing that. Sofia is the chicest, coolest girl, and she thinks my teeth are great.” At the risk of sounding “a little corny,” Dunst adds, “She gave me confidence in little things that I wouldn’t necessarily have had.”

Coppola asked Dunst to lose weight for ‘The Beguiled’ but Dunst refused: “It’s so much harder when you’re 35 and hate working out,” Dunst says. She even used the shoot’s location—in rural Louisiana—as an excuse. “I’m eating fried chicken and McDonald’s before work. So I’m like, ‘We have no options! I’m sorry I can’t lose weight for this role.’”

Coppola on sequels: “I can’t imagine,” she says about revisiting one of her stories. And she doesn’t fixate on her films’ box office totals. “I feel like guys pay more attention than girls. That’s a generalization; I shouldn’t say that. There are probably women who care too. The women directors that I know are less box office oriented.”

Dunst on aging: “I was getting depressed watching ‘Feud,’” Dunst says. “I was like, ‘I’m an aging actress!’ But they also had a lot more leverage because they had contracts. So even though they were stuck, they could also bully the studio back. Now you work for nothing on independent films, and you rely on the fashion industry to support your artistic endeavors.”

Coppola dropped out of the live-action Little Mermaid: “I would have liked to have done that. We couldn’t agree on some elements. When it’s smaller, you can have exactly what you have in mind. For me, it wasn’t a good fit.” Coppola requires final cut on her movies. “That’s the only way I feel like I can make it my own,” she says. She can’t see herself working on a blockbuster. “At one point, I was like, ‘What’s happening with “Wonder Woman”?’ ” she says. “I wanted to see a woman superhero because they’re all guys. I’m not really a comic-book person, but I liked the idea. On TV, she was so glamorous to me.”

Dunst on trying to get The Bell Jar financed: “We need our financing. I’m telling you, I have so many great actresses attached. People are afraid of the name Sylvia and that this is a depressing movie, which it’s not at all.” She hopes to shoot later this year. “It’s always harder for women,” she says. “Everyone has to work 10 times harder.”

They filmed The Beguiled on Election Day: “I had to go to bed because we had to get up early for work,” Dunst recalls. “I was sure Hillary was going to win. I woke up and they told me and I started crying.” The script’s themes, of women rising up, couldn’t be timelier. “As we were making it, you could see more and more connections,” Coppola says. Dunst likes the marketing campaign: “I think ‘Vengeful Bitches’ is a good tagline.”

Coppola on her trailer premiering before 50 Shades Darker. “I went,” she admits. “I don’t know what to say about that.”

[From Variety]

I feel like Sofia Coppola just floats around, thinking Wonder Woman is quaint and ironically sexy and Sofia never really cares about box office receipts. There’s something about her that seems… out of touch? That seems harsh, I know. She’s shown that she’s actually willing to walk away from projects if she doesn’t get what she wants, but she doesn’t seem to be aware that very few women in the industry have that kind of privilege. What else? I hate that Sofia asked Dunst to lose weight. That sucks.

70th annual Cannes Film Festival - ‘Ismael's Ghosts’ - Photocall

Photos courtesy of Variety.

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46 Responses to “Sofia Coppola asked Kirsten Dunst to lose weight for ‘The Beguiled’”

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  1. Francesca Love says:

    I love Kirsten’s teeth and smile!! Sofia is absolutely right.
    About the losing weight situation…unless the poor girl is playing a character with mental health problems connected with food, or somebody in a war-torn situation…then NO.

    • Lena says:

      Well, it is set during the American civil war, though I am not sure if the characters in it actually had a food scarcity.

      • Francesca Love says:

        Ah ok, thanks for specifying (i wasn’t sure) – I was referring more to a starvation-mode/concentration camp type of thing. Kirsten is already very thin, she could easily pass for somebody without easy access to regular food IMO.

      • graymatters says:

        Most of the South suffered food scarcity during the Civil War, particularly towards the end. The descriptions of the poor white children (the slaves were much worse off, obviously, but no one bothered to describe them) correlated with what we see of famine sufferers on TV now. They were described as wizened old men with greatly distended bellies. Even the middle classes suffered hunger, although not to that extent. Prices for food were higher in the North as well.

        I don’t know anything about the film, so I have no idea how relevant this would be to Coppola asking Dunst to lose weight.

      • Liberty says:

        I read the civil war era Diary of Mary Chestnut and there are many mentions of food scarcity as the diary and war go on, even though this work largely describes the lives of upperclass, politically connected American southerners. So from that aspect, I can understand the request. It was a time of deprivation.

    • teacakes says:

      Also, to be fair to Sofia, she actually respected it when Kirsten flat-out refused to lose the weight.

      It’s not cool that she asked that in the first place, but I don’t hate that she actually listened to what Kirsten had to say about that suggestion.

    • raincoaster says:

      That request is particularly ironic since Coppola was ridiculed for being overweight when she was in the Godfather (3?4? who even knows?) and lost the weight very soon afterwards and has been pin-thin ever since. She should know better.

  2. Veronica says:

    She asked Dunst to lose weight, but she didn’t drop her when she refused, so I’m not as annoyed with it as I normally would be. It kind of speaks to the intimacy between these women that they can so candid in the interview.

    Coppola is somewhat out of touch – she’s a white woman who has the benefit of a lot of money and connections. This being said, the fact that comes up against so many obstacles despite her privlege bespeaks a lot of the rampant misogyny in Hollywood. We can only imagine how much harder it is for directors like Ava Duvernay.

    • Alix says:

      Did she ask Colin Farrell to drop a few pounds, too? Doubt it.

      • Veronica says:

        *shrug* I didn’t say I approved of it, simply that I found it less problematic because Coppola accepted her refusal. It speaks to a mutual respect in their working relationship that she feels that she can be blunt about the issue publicly and that her refusal did not spell the end of her role in the movie.

    • Va Va Kaboom says:

      That is the thing, Sofia Coppola can walk away from anything because between her last name and money people will still work with her. On the whole her projects suck, excluding Lost In Translation and Virgin Suicides of course. Yet she is still discussed as if she were a completely serious and successful director. I really don’t hold all that much respect for her. If she weren’t Sophia COPPOLA and had to rely on actual talent she wouldn’t be have as far as she is in the industry.

  3. Jenns says:

    “It’s so much harder when you’re 35 and hate working out.”

    I’m 38, like working out and I still can’t lose it. Of course, I also love food and don’t always watch what I east, so…

    Anyway, I’m just going to say that Marie Antoinette is one of my favorites. I watch that movie every time it’s on.

    • ell says:

      honestly, what they say about weight loss is that it’s all eating, or rather the lack of it lol. exercising keeps you healthy, but doesn’t do much unless you watch what you eat. it sucks.

  4. PIa says:

    Why is Sofia being so nonchalant about asking Kirsten to lose weight? Seems like an odd request for 2 close collaborators? Maybe more detail was need. The interviewer should’ve asked.

    • detritus says:

      The dissonance is strong in this one

      She loves all my imperfections! She’s made me so proud of being myself! Except for the weight, she thinks I should be skinnier.


      • Bridget says:

        I’m assuming that Sofia had a specific aesthetic in mind. She asked, Kirsten declined. While weight is such a loaded topic, i think it’s important to separate the “how should someone during the Civil War look?” from the “you’d be so much hotter and bangable if you lost 10 pounds”.

      • detritus says:

        Sofia always has a specific aesthetic in mind.
        Waifish blondes.

      • Bridget says:

        She’s not my cup of tea as a filmmaker. But she also clearly respected it when Dunst pushed back.

      • Sassafras says:

        I’ve seen a lot of photos/illos of actresses from that time period (for research on American theatre) and If it’s taking place during the Civil War era, the “accepted” look for women was heavier than it is today and heavier than the thin Dunst,

    • Suzanne says:

      How is it odd? If she had lose weight for the role why can’t the director ask that.

      • Florence says:

        Absolutely. I don’t get how it’s suspicious. Actors are asked to lose weight, dye their hair, put on weight, shave their head or other all the time. Male actors do that all the time too.

      • detritus says:

        because I don’t think that directors should ask already thin actors or actresses to modify their body, especially as it plays into the common mold of thinner is better.

        When you couch your entire interview in how someone supports you for your physical quirks, it shouldn’t end with – and then she asked me to lose weight.

      • msd says:

        I don’t have a problem with asking actors to lose (or gain) weight if the request is grounded in character and story. It’s when there is no reason beyond modern beauty standards for women that I’m pissed. There were severe food shortages in the Civil War so I assume it was linked to that? It does sound as if she thought it fit the set up of these women being isolated and trapped as war raged around them. They’re both so casual about it that it can’t have been a big deal, maybe more of a suggestion and when Dunst was unenthusiastic Coppola just said okay.

  5. Fanny says:

    When I read that, I was looking for an explanation of WHY she asked Kirsten to lose weight. There seems to be no reason for it whatsoever except that slender actresses are routinely asked to lose weight when they are cast in movies. It sucks that a female director would pull that too.

    Even if the character in the movie is starving and malnourished, losing weight is really not necessary in the grand scheme of things. Jennifer Lawrence did a wonderful job in The Hunger Games and it did not matter that during that one scene where she’s supposed to be starving she wasn’t actually starving. It’s a movie. It’s make believe.

    It’s too bad Emma Thompson can’t be in every movie to stand up for her young actress costars when they are asked to lose weight just so they look more like models.

  6. Aiobhan Targaryen says:

    I don’t like that she asked either. The only reasonable excuse I could come up with is because of the time period the film was set in, but I am glad that Kiki flat out refused and Sofia let it go.

    I also get what you mean about Sofia. She sounds like Patricia “Aloof” Mara who talks loftily about the art of a movie and how she is completely oblivious to other worries. Everything is about “the art”. While I do believe that Sofia has had obstacles set in front of her being a female director, her career would have been a lot harder if her father was not Francis Ford Coppola. I won’t go as far as to say she had her career was handed to her because I genuinely think she is talented and has certainly earned her spot amongst other hipster indie directors, but she is not Dee Rees, Karyn Kusama, Niki Caro, Agnes Varda. Mira Nair, or Sarah Polley etc.

    • Fanny says:

      Interesting that you compared Sofia to Rooney Mara since Spike Jonze had Rooney play the Sofia role in “Her”. They both kind of have that anemic, depressed vibe about them, like it’s so hard for them to get out bed and they will never be fully awake.

  7. Ghost says:

    Sofia’s father is FF Copolla. She’s rich and connected as it is. Other female directors don’t have the luxury of not caring about box offices. Women have to care even more than men.

  8. littlemissnaughty says:

    I know we can always focus on Coppola’s privilege (which comes in many forms) but the fact is, she’s a female director and writer whose films, whether you like them or not, are always a bit different and interesting. And largely successful if you don’t expect Avengers money. I love that she has this relationship of a semi-muse with Dunst as well.

    • Bug says:

      I totally agree with every word you wrote.

    • teacakes says:

      Exactly. And, love her or hate her, no matter what anyone thinks, it’s a fact that her filmmaking style is now a known thing and distinctive in its own right/her films are nothing like her father’s. That’s no mean feat.

  9. Nancy says:

    I loved the Godfather I and II, but will never forgive her father for casting Sofia in Godfather III. Never seen worse acting in my life. That was a lot of weight to put on her shoulders when Winona Ryder who was very popular at the time, had to back out of playing Mary, but the entire trilogy was ruined. I guess she has had success behind the camera, but man or man, was she bad in that film. She even managed to ruin the death scene at the end….Andy Garcia looked embarrassed on film! But THAT WAS THEN, hopefully things have improved.

    • Jegede says:

      Gah. In the recent Godfather reunion and to some laughter, Robert Duvall pretty much slammed the final part right in front of Coppola, Pacino, DeNiro e.t.c

      It was hilarious.
      May have been sour grapes but Duvall pretty much articulated hat a lot of people think.

      As for Sophia, rumour has it that audiences actually cheered when her Mary Corleone was killed on screen!

      • Bob says:

        I saw it in the theater. People snickered when she died, because her acting was so bad.

    • elle says:

      Andy Garcia is capable of some pretty terrible acting himself.

      • Nancy says:

        I’m a movie buff so I could rattle off a lot of Andy Garcia movies I enjoyed. I’ll give you two: Untouchables and When A Man Loves A Woman. He gets the job done and unlike poor Sofia who got the hottest role of the time because her father cast her, he never had the audience laughing when he was killed on film…”Dad.” You have to admit she was bad, but it was her father’s wtf for casting his daughter who had no acting experience. She was voted worst actress of all time and ruined Godfather III which should have been epic. Oh well, long time ago……….

  10. ell says:

    it’s not clear whether she asked because of that particular role, but i’m assuming that was the case? kirsten doesn’t seem resentful about it. so i guess it wasn’t a big deal.

  11. Anon says:

    It doesn’t bother me at all that she asked if she would lose weight. If that’s the aesthetic Sophia wanted for the movie that’s fine. I doubt Sophia thinks Kirsten Dunst is fat, she probably just had a slightly different vision for the character.

  12. Harryg says:

    I don’t like Sofia Coppola’s movies. I can understand why other people do, though. Kirsten Dunst is great.

  13. TheOtherSam says:

    Kirsten is a bit heavier than she was in the past when they worked together, maybe Coppola had her previous shape or look in mind when they began filming. Good for her for standing her ground and good on Coppola respecting it. They’re pretty good friends off-set so it probably didn’t make for tension or a dent in their working relationship.

    I mean if she didn’t have Nicole Kidman lay off the botox why ask Dunst to lose a few? That jarred me far more when seeing the trailer for the movie. Women during the Civil War didn’t have smooth faces or wear foundation or other makeup like Kidman clearly has in this.

  14. Egla says:

    I feel in love with Garcia in that movie for reals sooo I didn’t even noticed her in the movie. She was just hair there

  15. AsIf says:

    I think it’s weird that everyone has to constantly “call Sofia out” on being out of touch. When male indie directors (or artists in general) refuse to do something because it isn’t in line with their artistic vision, they get praised for there integrity and devotion. But when she does it she’s out of touch and hey, do you remember how privileged she is to have that kind of mindset?
    I mean Hollywood is super incestuous, almost everyone has connections

    • Kick says:

      No one is ‘calling her out’ for dropping out of a Little Mermaid remake. They are pointing out the fact that movie-making is a business. A bad box office could KILL a fledgling director’s career let alone a female director’s who statistically has a lesser chance of getting the first movie let alone a sophomore effort. You know who doesn’t have to worry about a dead career, however–the daughter of a certified legend, Francis Ford Coppola, who irrefutably has boundless connections to the most well-respected actors and producers (as well as their extended networks). Sofia and other wealthy and/or well-connected artists have the luxury of not caring about money, others don’t. Pointing out her blind spot is not sexist. Nice try, though.

      • Bridget says:

        That doesn’t make a ton of sense, so I’m not really even sure what point you’re making. No indie director has a good shot at a second movie? Or Sofia needs extra criticism because she’s FFC’s daughter?

        Like her work or not, she’s made a name for herself based on her work, not her father’s – and in a field where it’s hard enough for women directors to even be hired, let alone be lauded. She’s not my cup of tea, but I do respect her professionally.

      • Kick says:

        @Bridget Perhaps you should reread my response because your reply is based on your own reading comprehension issues. If you have reread the above and are still unclear on my point: 1. Ask yourself if Sofia was forcibly cast in Godfather III, if not why was she cast/ If it’s nepotism, is that the only instance? 2. Who produced The Virgin Suicides? Hint: It’s the guy to whom she apparently doesn’t owe her career. 3. Does that mean I respect her or her work less–absolutely not. 4. Most directors are constantly weighing and negotiating their vision against their budget and absolutely concerning themselves with the box office; to be only concerned with the art is in some ways fanciful and indicative of a certain milieu, say someone whose father’s studio could produce their debut. 5. Pointing out that she has significant advantages in her field where others do not is simply that. It does not mean, as you implied, that I lack respect for her professionally. It does mean that I will snicker whenever she implies she can’t be bothered to care about the financial aspect of filmmaking.

      • AsIf says:

        I honestly don’t know why you’re going in like this.
        Maybe “calling out” wasn’t the best choice, but English isn’t my first language and I couldn’t find the best fitting word, that’s why I put it in quotation marks. I meant pointing it out.
        However, I never denied that she has a privilege, hence my last sentence. I was pointing out that A Lot Of Male Directors have that privilege, or as you call it luxury, as well (see my last sentence) and still, no one really feels the need to point out that they’re out of touch when they’re recklessly chasing their artistic vision.
        I get that she’s privileged and the film industry is full of inequalities that have to be fought against, but she made it (as a woman) and now has about the same rights as her male counterparts. She can pick and chose and isn’t dependent on making trashy, but commercially successful, movies to assure that she will be allowed to continue to make movies. Like why can’t we applaud that?
        And before you tell me again that that’s the luxury of her name and therefore connections, again: a lot of male directors have that. And they’re choosing to only do projects they fully believe in and realise their vision. Which a lot of people applaud them for. In that context I never heard anyone say: well, they can do that because they’re well connected and wealthy.

  16. DesertReal says:

    SC = out of touch +1000
    I remember reading an article she was interviewed for after… Lost in Translation or the Virgin Suicides, perhaps?
    In it the reporter and the Coppola were discussing an art exhibit she loved.
    Always saw whenever there was an exhibit, etc. You get the idea.
    When the interviewer admitted they’ve never seen it- chica couldn’t believe it.
    Wouldn’t let it go.
    Finally just dropped it after insisting that “it was a really important piece and everyone should see it.”

    Needless to say she has rubbed me the wrong way ever since. Coppola is the original Goop before Goop.