‘Virgin’ springs in L.A.

Coppola debuts as helmer, cites father as 'huge influence'

The premiere of Sofia Coppola’s maiden helming effort, Paramount Classics’ “The Virgin Suicides,” brought out the stars to the Egyptian Theater April 18, with an after-party at Les Deux Cafe.

Star Kirsten Dunst said her character’s upbringing was very different from her own. “My mother and I are so open with each other,” Dunst said. “I can talk to my mother about anything.”

Coppola has no communication problems with her famous father either, she said.

“He had a huge influence on how I wanted to be (as) a director, and to have good montage sequences,” she said. “I also learned from him to hire your relatives.”

Francis Ford Coppola said his daughter has had just as much of an impact on his filmmaking as he has on hers.

“I raised her and had her on the sets of my films, and always invited her to work in some aspect on them, so by example I think she picked up a lot,” Coppola pere said. “Certainly her interest in music and fashion has influenced me. So it is a reciprocal process.”

Sofia Coppola stressed the film has universal themes to which teens of the new millennium can relate. “It’s about being young, having epic crushes, being in love and feeling mortality in life for the first time.”

Co-star Jason Lee simply said: “It wasn’t just a film. It was a mood.”

Among those in the mood were producers Julie Costanzo and Dan Halsted; Paramount Classics toppers David Dinerstein and Ruth Vitale; plus guests Jennifer Grey, Spike Jonze (who is married to Sofia Coppola), Christine Lahti, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Rose McGowan and Ione Skye.

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