Francis Ford Coppola Briefly Addresses Allegations of Improper Behavior on ‘Megalopolis’ Set: ‘I’m Not Touchy-Feely’

Francis Ford Coppola hit the Cannes Film Festival last month to triumphantly celebrate the completion of his epic film “Megalopolis,” which he has been working on for nearly 40 years.

The celebrations were somewhat compromised, however, by mixed reviews for the film itself, as well as a Guardian report that alleged “chaotic behavior” on the set of “Megalopolis,” including the “Godfather” director reportedly “pulling women to sit on his lap” and “trying to kiss some of the topless and scantily-clad female extras.”

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New York Times film critic Manohla Dargis interviewed Coppola in Cannes, and did not hesitate to raise the topic of the accusations. Coppola responded in a “rambling fashion,” Dargis wrote in an interview published Thursday. The filmmaker responded by first mentioning his mother Italia, who he said resembled Hedy Lamarr. “My mother told me that if you make an advance toward a woman, it means you disrespect her, and the girls I had crushes on, I certainly didn’t disrespect them.”

“I’m not touchy-feely,” Coppola told The New York Times. “I’m too shy.”

“Pressed further,” Dargis wrote, “[Coppola] added that there was a photo of one of the ‘girls’ he kissed on the cheek that had been taken by her father. (‘I knew her when she was 9.’)”

“Megalopolis” executive producer Darren Demetre released a statement after the Guardian report, saying, “I was never aware of any complaints of harassment or ill behavior during the course of the project.

“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. 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,” Demetre’s statement continued.

“Megalopolis,” which stars Adam Driver, Shia LaBeouf, Nathalie Emmanuel and Aubrey Plaza, is still looking for a U.S. distribution partner, though Imax has made a global commitment to showing the vastly scaled film on its oversized screens. The movie has secured distribution in numerous overseas territories.

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