Movie Article

Coppola Redux

Francis Ford Coppola is making a new movie -- The director returns after nine years for ''Youth Without Youth''

When Tim Roth got a cell-phone message from Francis Ford Coppola about a movie role, he assumed it was a cruel prank. ''Francis said, 'I've written something and I want you to read it,''' says Roth, who dismissed the call with an incredulous ''F--- off!''

Roth's skepticism is understandable: It's been nine years since one of the greatest directors in history last made a movie (The Rainmaker). Since then, the five-time Oscar winner seemed to have abandoned filmmaking for winemaking, leaving Hollywood to wonder whether his creative juices had completely dried up.

It's a scenario that makes Coppola's defiantly unplugged return to film with Youth Without Youth — an adaptation of a novella about a professor (Roth) rendered young after being struck by lightning — so remarkable. Even more notable: He bypassed the usual studio channels, writing, directing, and financing the movie himself.

The bare-bones production, which was shot entirely in Romania last winter, became an endurance test. ''It was punishing,'' Roth recalls. ''You'd come home and feel like you'd worked a week.'' Apparently, the actor was unaware that Coppola planned to approach this as a second student film. The director writes in his online Youth set diary that he's reinvented himself as a first-time filmmaker ''to forget I ever had a film career and instead dream about having one.'' The movie has yet to secure a distributor or release date, so Coppola's next bit of hard work will be to make sure this Youth hasn't been misspent.

(Additional reporting by Daniel Fierman)


POWER LIST: THE COPPOLA EDITION

1 NICOLAS CAGE

2 FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA

3 SOFIA COPPOLA

4 JASON SCHWARTZMAN

Originally posted Jun 09, 2006 Published in issue #882 Jun 16, 2006 Order article reprints