‘Megalopolis’ Producer Addresses Report of Francis Ford Coppola Trying to Kiss Extras on Set: ‘I Was Never Aware of Any Complaints of Harassment’

Francis Ford Coppola
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Days before Francis Ford Coppola premieres his self-financed epic “Megalopolis” at the Cannes Film Fesstival, The Guardian has published a report on the film’s production in which several crew members detail Coppola’s alleged behavior on set. Several sources told the publication that Coppola was “old school” in his behavior toward women.

“He allegedly pulled women to sit on his lap, for example,” reads The Guardian report. “And during one bacchanalian nightclub scene being shot for the film, witnesses say, Coppola came on to the set and tried to kiss some of the topless and scantily clad female extras. He apparently claimed he was ‘trying to get them in the mood.’”

Defending Coppola is Darren Demetre, the executive co-producer on “Megalopolis.” He told the publication that Coppola did kiss some extras on the cheek in a friendly manner and no one ever expressed to him that Coppola’s behavior made them uncomfortable.

“I have known and worked with Francis and his family for over 35 years. As one of the first assistant directors and an executive producer on his new epic, ‘Megalopolis,’ I helped oversee and advise the production and ran the second unit. Francis successfully produced and directed an enormous independent film, making all the difficult decisions to ensure it was delivered on time and on budget, while remaining true to his creative vision,” Demetre said.

“There were two days when we shot a celebratory Studio 54-esque club scene where Francis walked around the set to establish the spirit of the scene by giving kind hugs and kisses on the cheek to the cast and background players,” he added. “It was his way to help inspire and establish the club atmosphere, which was so important to the film. I was never aware of any complaints of harassment or ill behavior during the course of the project.”

Variety has reached out to Demetre and Coppola’s representatives for further comment.

Coppola put up $120 million of his own money to finance “Megalopolis,” which is set in a New York City-like metropolis in the aftermath of a catastrophic destruction. Adam Driver plays an idealistic architect who wants to rebuild the city into something greater than what it was. Giancarlo Esposito is the city’s corrupt mayor hellbent on keeping things the way they were. Nathalie Emmanuel is the mayor’s daughter who gets caught in the middle. The cast also includes Aubrey Plaza, Shia LaBeouf, Dustin Hoffman, Jon Voight, Laurence Fishburne, Talia Shire and Jason Schwartzman.

Crew members told The Guardian that Coppola “would often show up in the mornings before these big sequences and because no plan had been put in place, and because he wouldn’t allow his collaborators to put a plan in place, he would often just sit in his trailer for hours on end, wouldn’t talk to anybody, was often smoking marijuana … And hours and hours would go by without anything being filmed. And the crew and the cast would all stand around and wait. Then he’d come out and whip up something that didn’t make sense.”

Another crew member said: “This sounds crazy to say, but there were times when we were all standing around going: ‘Has this guy ever made a movie before?’”

Mike Figgis, one of Coppola’s longtime friends, had more positive things to say about the “Megalopolis” set. The director invited Figgis to document the making of the movie in Atlanta.

“Watching an 84-year-old guy hold together that massive team, and to have enough brains to be able to direct the actors, the camera and everything,” Figgis told The Guardian. “He was up every morning making notes on his way on to the set, or he’s discussing his ideas with Roman, his son. And at the end of the day, he’s also the producer, so he’s thinking about his interest rate.”

Figgis said that Coppola remained determined even during the usual clashes that come sometimes with making a movie. He said he observed some tussling between Coppola and LaBeouf, but the director made sure it did not impact shooting.

“He and Shia had this wonderful combative relationship, which was very productive,” Figgis said. “Shia had a lot of questions, and sometimes Francis would be stressed by a bunch of other things and he would respond in a certain way. There was also a lot of humor involved, so it was very entertaining …But sometimes [Francis] was just like, ‘Ugh, I can’t deal with this.’”

“Megalopolis” will be seeking U.S. distribution out of Cannes. Head over to The Guardian’s website to read its full report.

From Variety US