I never know what I’m going to read.
Belonging to a library where you’re granted the privilege of roaming the stacks, it’s amazing what you come across.
Perusing through Biography, I found a book in diary form written in 2008 by Eleanor Coppola, Francis Ford Coppola’s wife, that goes back to the casting of all three Godfathers to Sofia Coppola making her third film, Marie Antoinette, in 2005.
I felt like a fly on the wall privy to her candid observations.
She reveals so much, like how she felt in 1986 when her eldest son, Gio, was killed in a boating accident making me weep for her and every mother who’s ever lost a child.
When I finished Notes On A Life, I then picked up a modest bio on Marlon Brando, by Patricia Bosworth, realizing how little I knew about him. How he never felt he was really as good as the world thought he was. There was also the generous Marlon who adored his mother, and the one who loved animals. At one point he had a pet raccoon he’d walk on a leash and feed milkshakes to who’d guzzle them like pints of beer
There was also the outrageous Marlon who would drive everybody nutty with his demands and perfectionism. And we mustn’t forget the one who gained 300 pounds.
After that I wanted more of Mrs. Coppola so I’m reading Notes, about the making of Apocalypse Now written in 1979. She also made an award winning documentary called Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse, that, like the film it’s based on, still takes your breath away.
Her book begins with all the actors Francis wanted who said no.
Steve McQueen, James Caan, Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino…even Robert Redford before he went with Harvey Keitel replacing him early on with Martin Sheen. He gave Marlon Brando an incredible fee for the role of Colonel Kurtz who almost drove him out of his mind with his craziness.
The conditions in the Philippines were more than challenging: excessive heat, huge winds, even a typhoon that took out all the roads and destroyed much of the equipment.
Eleanor Coppola was a real trooper staying there to be with Francis. I thought, this woman really loves her husband yet tells how the experience almost cost her her marriage.
Did you know Martin Sheen had a serious heart attack during filming?
That the Coppolas talked seriously about getting a divorce when Francis announced he was in love with another woman?
Eleanor Coppola has now become a hero of mine…her openness, courage and determination to keep her family together made me take pause.
How she didn’t chase him around with a cleaver is a mystery to me, but women, when we love, we love big.
Let’s hear it for great writing.