Where do you draw the line between nepotism and a family business? With the Coppola clan, it's often hard to tell. But here they are:
- Francis Ford Coppola. The patriarch. The man who started with exploitation flicks and forged an A-list career for himself, only to let it slowly dribble away over the last three decades with misfires, interesting but poorly marketed movies, studio hack work, and most recently some very strange independent features. But thanks to his status in the early '70s as one of Hollywood's hottest directors, the rest of his extended family owes him everything. Even if these days he's making far more money selling wine than making movies.
- Talia Shire. Francis' sister, born Talia Coppola. Cast in The Godfather by her brother, Shire came into her own with her role as "Yo, Adrian" in Rocky, which otherwise had nothing to do with the Coppolas. Aside from the Rocky and Godfather sequels, however, she's not known for much else, even though she's kept busy acting.
- David Shire. Talia's first husband was extended Coppola family for a while. Already a successful composer for film and TV in the early '70s, his brother-in-law hired him to provide the bittersweet all-piano score for The Conversation. After the Shires divorced, David was left to his own devices, but he remained a top film composer in the '70s before slouching through the next few decades with work on TV movies. David Fincher briefly resuscitated his career by hiring him to score Zodiac, set like The Conversation in 1970s San Francisco.
- Jason Schwartzman. Talia's son from her second husband, entertainment attorney Jack Schwartzman, entered the family business as a teenager when he debuted in Wes Anderson's Rushmore. Though he has yet to appear in any of his uncle Francis' films, he's acted in other Coppola productions, including CQ and Marie Antoinette (see below).
- John Schwartzman. File this guy, like David Shire, into the "extended family" category. Jason's much older half-brother isn't a Coppola by blood, but this in-demand director of photography (Armageddon, Seabiscuit, The Amazing Spider-Man, etc.) apprenticed under the legendary Italian cinematographer Vittorio Storaro. And Storaro shot four of Francis Ford Coppola's pictures between 1979 and 1989, right when Schwartzman was starting his career. Coincidence? Or a little family favor?
- Sofia Coppola. We leave Talia's branch of the family tree and go directly to Francis' own progeny. The shy, awkward-looking Sofia, who once seemed to have been forced against her will into the limelight by her father (who routinely cast this non-actress in his films, most infamously in The Godfather Part III), defied the odds and became a successful film director in her own right. Though after peaking with her Oscar win for Lost in Translation (produced by papa), her subsequent efforts (Marie Antoinette, Somewhere) have met with mixed reactions.
- Roman Coppola. Francis' other surviving child (son Gian-Carlo was killed in a boating accident in 1986) has struggled to make his own films. He directed the stylish if wan CQ and co-wrote The Darjeeling Limited (with cousin Jason Schwartzman) and Moonrise Kingdom (with Wes Anderson). A new film starring Schwartzman, Charlie Sheen and Bill Murray is in the works.
- Carmine Coppola. Francis' father, the true patriarch of the Coppola tribe, was a well-known flutist and orchestra conductor in his day. But as a film composer late in life, pretty much all his work came from his son: Apocalypse Now, The Outsiders, Godfather III, even The Black Stallion, which Coppola fils produced.
- Nicolas Cage. You didn't think I'd forget about this guy, did you? Born Nicolas Coppola, the son of Francis' brother August, the young Cage had some walk-on roles in a few films in the early '80s, but uncle Francis gave him several boosts, casting him in The Outsiders, Rumble Fish, The Cotton Club and most prominently in Peggy Sue Got Married. Cage took on his stage name specifically to negate claims of nepotism, and was reportedly very difficult on the set of Peggy Sue because he wanted to assert his independence. It must have worked.