American director Roman Coppola, the son of famed “Godfather” director Francis Ford Coppola, began acting as a child in his father's films before turning his interest to producing and directing. A graduate of NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, Coppola gained notice as the second unit director of Bram Stoker's “Dracula” (1992), where he netted nominations at the BAFTA Awards and the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films' Saturn Awards. He also worked on his father films “Jack” (1996), “The Rainmaker” (1997), “Youth Without Youth” (2007) and “Tetro” (2009), his sister Sofia Coppola's “The Virgin Suicides” (1999), “Lost in Translation” (2003) and “Marie Antoinette” (2006) and Wes Anderson's “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” (2004) and “The Darjeeling Limited” (2007, also a co-writer and producer). Coppola made his feature film debut with “CQ,” which premiered at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival. He has also directed music videos and commercials. The video of Fatboy Slim's “Praise You” (1999) won three MTV Video Music Awards.
Childhood and Family:
Roman Coppola was born on April 22, 1965, in Paris, France, to legendary filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola (born in 1939) and his wife, set decorator/artist Eleanor Coppola (born in 1936), who shared an Emmy Award for co-directing the documentary “Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse” (1991). The second of three siblings, his older brother, Gian-Carlo Coppola, was born on September 17, 1963, and his younger sister, Sofia Coppola, was born on May 14, 1971. His brother was killed in a boating accident in 1986 at age 21. At the time of Gian-Carlo’s death, he was engaged to Jacqui De La Fontaine, who was two months pregnant with his daughter Gia Coppola. Roman graduated from New York University's film school, the Tisch School of the Arts, in 1987.
Roman is the cousin of Academy Award winning actor Nicolas Cage (born on January 7, 1964), director Christopher Coppola (born on January 25, 1962), actor Marc Coppola (born on April 29, 1958) and actor Jason Schwartzman (born on June 26, 1980). His grandparents were composer Carmine Coppola and actress Italia Coppola and his great-grandfather was Venetian sculptor Francesco Penso.
Growing up in a show business family, Roman Coppola first appeared on film at age 7 in his father Francis Ford Coppola's “The Godfather” (1972), where he had unaccredited part as a boy on the street who attended a funeral. Two years later, he was cast as young Sonny Corleone in the installment “The Godfather: Part II” (1974), a part that required his hair to be curled every morning with a curling iron. Little Coppola was bothered by the experience so decided to stay away from acting although he did appear in his dad's “Apocalypse Now” (1979).
Coppola began working on his father's productions at age 18. He helped with sound in “The Outsiders” (1983), for which he received production aide credit, and served as an associate producer for “Rumble Fish” (1983). Both films were adapted by his father from novels by S.E Hinton. The same year, he also worked as a production assistant on director Robert Dalva's “The Black Stallion Returns,” which was executive produced by his father. He later worked on “Gardens of Stone” (1987, directed by his father).
After graduating college, Coppola launched his producing career. He executive produced “Clownhouse” (1989), a horror film written and directed by Victor Salva, and the “The Spirit of '76” (1990) for writer/director Lucas Reiner. Coppola also contributed to the story of the latter film. He then produced “The Godfather Family: A Look Inside” (1990, TV), a documentary on the making of the “Godfather” trilogy that was directed by Jeff Werner. His career gained a boost in 1992 when he secured the 2nd unit director gig for his father's adaptation of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula,” which starred Gary Oldman and Winona Ryder. He received a 1993 Saturn nomination for Best Special Effects and a 1994 BAFTA Film nomination for Best Special Effects for his work on the film.
Next up, Coppola ventured into music video directing and quickly gained status as a popular sought-after director. He founded his own commercial and video production company, The Director's Bureau, in 1996 with friend and fellow director Mike Mills. Coppola has directed videos for numerous artists, including Green Day, The Strokes, Wyclef, Phoenix, Daft Punk, Phantom Planet, Mansun and Matthew Sweet. It was the innovative video of the U.K. No. 1 hit single “Praise You” (1999), by English dance/electronic act Fatboy Slim, which earned Coppola significant recognition. Featuring a group of dancers performing in the street, the video won awards at the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards (Breakthrough Video, Best Direction and Best Choreography). It also received an additional nomination for Best Dance Video. On the commercials front, Coppola has directed ads for Adidas, Coca-Cola, Levis, Burger King, Honda Element SUV, and Gap clothing, among other big name clients.
Coppola returned to feature films when he served as second unit director for his father films “Jack” (1996) and “The Rainmaker” (1997) and his sister Sofia's directorial debut “The Virgin Suicides” (1999). Also in 1999, he appeared in front of the film cameras as Bandido in cousin Christopher Coppola's western “Gunfighter,” which starred Robert Carradine and Martin Sheen, and in George Lucas' “Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace” (unaccredited role).
In the early 2000s, Coppola directed music videos for songs of The Strokes' debut album “Is This It” (2001). They included “Last Nite,” “Hard To Explain” (both 2001) and “Someday” (2002). He also helmed the video of “12:51” (2003), the group's first single from the second album “Room on Fire.”
Coppola made his feature film directing debut with “CQ,” which he also wrote. The movie was screened out of competition at the Cannes Film Festival on May 12, 2001, and starred Jeremy Davies, Jason Schwartzman, Giancarlo Giannini, Gérard Depardieu and Billy Zane. It also featured an original soundtrack by the French electronic group Mellow. “CQ” was nominated for a Golden Satellite for Best Art Direction.
Coppola returned to the second unit director post for the films “Lost in Translation” (2003, written and directed by Sofia Coppola), “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” (2004, directed and co-written by Wes Anderson), “Marie Antoinette” (2006, directed and written by Sofia Coppola), “The Darjeeling Limited” (2007, directed by Wes Anderson, also co-written with Anderson and served as producer), “Youth Without Youth” (2007, directed by his father) and “Tetro” (2009, directed by his father). In 2009, Coppola provided the voice of Squirrel Contractor in the animated film “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” which was directed by Anderson. The film starred the voices of George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman, to name a few.
As a producer, Coppola has completed filming “Somewhere” (2010), a movie written and directed by his sister Sofia.