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Tried to kiss topless female extras: 'Megalopolis' crew accuse Francis Ford Coppola of mismanagement

'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,' a report by The Guardian read.
Last Updated : 15 May 2024, 07:41 IST
Last Updated : 15 May 2024, 07:41 IST

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London: Several crew members on Francis Ford Coppola's Cannes-bound Megalopolis have alleged that the veteran filmmaker tried to "kiss some of the topless female extras and make the team wait for hours and hours without filming anything."

The allegations, reported by The Guardian newspaper, come days before the film, fronted by Adam Driver, receives its world premiere at the ongoing Cannes Film Festival in the Competition segment. Multiple sources told the publication that "Coppola, best known for The Godfather trilogy and Apocalypse Now, was old school in his behaviour toward 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," the report read.

These allegations were countered by Darren Demetre, an executive co-producer on Megalopolis, which is Coppola's self-financed passion project.

He told the UK-based publication the filmmaker, 84, gave "hugs and kisses'" to the cast and background players but no one ever complained to him about it.

"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," Demetre said.

Crew members told The Guardian that Coppola would spend the time away on set and keep the team waiting for hours.

"He 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," one of them said.

Another 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? On allegations of mismanagement, Demetre -- who has worked with the filmmaker since 35 years -- said Coppola "successfully" mounted a big-budget independent film like Megalopolis."

"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," he said.

Mike Figgis, one of Coppola's longtime friends, said the "director held together a massive team."

"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 told The Guardian.

"Coppola remained determined even during the usual clashes that come sometimes with making a movie," he said.

"He and Shia (LaBeouf) had this wonderful combative relationship, which was very productive. 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 (Coppola) was just like, Ugh, I can't deal with this," Figgis added.

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Published 15 May 2024, 07:41 IST

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