Francis Ford Coppola Denies Inappropriate Behaviour on 'Megalopolis' Set: "I’m Not Touchy-Feely"

He was accused of trying to kiss female extras

Photo: Karel Chladek (via Flickr)

BY Calum SlingerlandPublished Jun 6, 2024

Francis Ford Coppola has denied allegations he tried to kiss female extras and exhibited "old school" behaviour on the set of Megalopolis, his sci-fi epic over 40 years in the making.

Ahead of its polarizing premiere at the Cannes Film Festival last month, a report from The Guardian quoted anonymous crew members alleging that the acclaimed director behaved inappropriately while on set.

Coppola was asked about the allegations in a recent profile by Manohla Dargis of The New York Times, and is said to have denied them "in a similarly rambling fashion" to "discursive soliloquies" that made up their hour-long conversation.

Dargis writes that upon asking Coppola about The Guardian's report, "To my surprise, he began by talking about his mother, Italia," reporting his segue as follows:

"She looked like Hedy Lamarr," he said, referring to the glamorous Hollywood star. "I have the picture," he said, as he fished for his phone. (Italia did in fact evoke Lamarr.)

The director shared that lessons from his mother would prevent him from acting inappropriately, explaining, "My mother told me that if you make an advance toward a woman, it means you disrespect her, and the girls I had crushes on, I certainly didn't disrespect them."

Upon being "pressed further," Coppola shared how he had a photo of an extra he kissed on the cheek that had been taken by her father, telling The Times, "I knew her when she was nine."

"I'm not touchy-feely," Coppola added. "I'm too shy."

The Guardian reported the following surrounding Coppola's alleged treatment of women on the Megalopolis set:

Several sources also felt that Coppola could be "old school" in his behaviour around women. He allegedly pulled women to sit on his lap, for example. 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."

In response to the allegations, Megalopolis executive co-producer Darren Demetre told The Guardian, "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. 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 behaviour during the course of the project."

While Coppola's self-funded Megalopolis has yet to secure a distributor, the film will reportedly receive a limited IMAX release in at least 20 US cities in late September.

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