Priscilla’s Cailee Spaeny On Why Sofia Coppola Is Like ‘An Iron Fist In A Silk Glove’ [Exclusive Interview]

I’m glad you mentioned Sofia’s approach to the movie and what she brought to it. You’ve already worked with some of the greatest filmmakers around at this point in your career: Alex Garland, Mimi Leder, Drew Goddard, Adam McKay. Compared to them, what was Sofia’s process like? How did that measure up to your previous experiences?

I think what’s so interesting about Sofia is that she … you know, her friend described her the other day as an iron fist in a silk glove [laughs], which I think is so perfect because she has a razor-sharp vision and she knows exactly what she wants. You feel that when you watch her movies, because when you turn on a Sofia Coppola movie, you absolutely know it’s one of her films. I have been lucky to work with some amazing people, but I think it is rare in this industry to find filmmakers and creatives who are so specific in their choices and have such confidence in their choices. And she does have that, so that was always something I felt like I could trust and lean on. Even in times that things felt so chaotic and I didn’t know what direction I was going, I knew that I could always trust her, which is not always what happens when you’re working with people.

She puts an incredible amount of trust in her actors. I think she really takes the time to think about casting, but once she’s cast the person, she just lets them do their thing, which I actually think is when you get the best results, is when you just put trust in your creatives and you’re not just trying to work against them the whole time. And she does that. Sometimes it was intimidating, because sometimes she would genuinely just put me and Jacob in a room and just say, “Do whatever you want” [laughs], which is a bit like, “Wait, I mean, just, uh, I don’t know what I’m doing” [laughs], but she’s very kind. She also has an amazing balance of knowing when to really focus in on what’s important in the scene. And then she also knows when to relax, and she takes care of her crew.

For example, she uses music a lot when making a film. Obviously her soundtracks are so iconic and incredible, but she actually uses music throughout the filming process. So she’d turn on a song right before a scene, right before action, and it would get not only the cast members in the right mood and tone, but then the whole crew would lean in and be interested. She does that with everyone. I think because she brings her A game every time, everyone else, every head of department down to the PAs, are wanting to put everything into her projects.

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