How The Godfather Launched One of Hollywood's Most Powerful Families

Francis Ford Coppola's work on The Godfather set the stage for his family members, including daughter Sofia and nephews Nicolas Cage and Jason Schwartzman to become major Hollywood players.

By Cydney Contreras Apr 30, 2022 11:00 AMTags
Watch: The Offer Stars Detail True Tussle Behind Making The Godfather

Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola's family is now Hollywood royalty—even in Genovia.

It's a little-known fact that Anne Hathaway's on-screen love interest, Robert Schwartzman, is one of the director's talented nephews—we say nephews, plural, because Robert isn't the only Coppola to have talent running through their veins. There's Nicolas Cage, born Nicolas Coppola, who changed his name to differentiate himself from his famous uncle, as well as longtime Wes Anderson collaborator Jason Schwartzman.

Of course, there's also Coppola's own daughter, Sofia Coppola, who became an Academy Award-winning writer and director. The Marie Antoinette auteur rose above the expectations of critics who accused her of riding on her father's coattails—a claim that may have been true when she starred in The Godfather (as an infant!) and The Godfather III but has long since been put to rest by her work.

Yes, the clan got their start thanks to the success of The Godfather, but their achievements speak for themselves. As Sofia previously told The Guardian, "I have a body of work now, and it has its own identity."


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The same can be said of all the Coppolas, who have seen critical success in the world of film and music. To learn about their far-reaching family tree, keep reading!

Robert Schwartzman

Fans will likely recognize Robert from his role in The Princess Diaries, in which he played Michael Moscovitz, the shy love interest of Anne Hathaway's Mia. It was one of the star's biggest roles, having previously appeared in cousin Sofia's The Virgin Suicides and short film Lick the Star

To the dismay of The Princess Diaries fans, Robert ultimately realized his true passion was music and focused his attention on Rooney, the indie rock band he founded in his junior year of high school. They're to credit for popular songs like "When Did Your Heart Go Missing?" and "Blueside," the latter of which they played in The Princess Diaries. And while the group isn't a household name, they found success in the indie rock community, touring alongside OK Go and The Queens of the Stone Age.

Robert also scored cousin Gia Coppola's 2013 film Palo Alto, which starred James Franco and Emma Roberts, alongside Dev Hynes of Blood Orange

Nicolas Cage

Determined to succeed on his own merit, Nicolas is one of the few Coppola family members to change his name so he could pave a path of his own. As he once told The New York Times, he chose the surname Cage in reference to composer John Cage and the Marvel hero Luke Cage.

Cage himself has admitted that he resented his uncle and other family members' achievements, a feeling that fueled his desire for success. "I felt like, ‘Why is it that
[Francis Ford Coppola's children] have all this stuff and my brothers and I don't?" he said, according to Vulture. "I said: You know what? I am going to get even somehow. I was going to buy a big house in San Francisco where they had one, and I did… It was unfortunate that revenge fueled so much of my ambition."

But the actor has a different view of his uncle's lavish lifestyle now that he's a celebrity all his own, recently telling GQ, "I didn't know what the cost of things were. I just liked what they looked like."

Sofia Coppola

Having been raised on the sets of her father's movies, Sofia acquired a keen eye for filmmaking, but her work stands in stark contrast to that of her father's. While Francis explores dark themes and features bloody imagery in his films, Sofia embraces her "girly" side, as critics call it. "I just feel like I have a feminine point of view and I'm happy to put that out there," she told The Guardian. "We certainly have enough masculine ones."

Not that Sofia feels compelled to differentiate herself from her father, she simply wishes that credit is given where it's due. "When I first started, people would say things like, ‘Oh, your casting was really well done. Did your father or your husband [ex Spike Jonze] help you?'" she remembered in the same interview. "And that was really insulting, obviously. You wouldn't say that to a male director."

While dad may have taught her the tools of the trade, Sofia's work speaks for itself: Following the premiere of Lost In Translation, she became the youngest female director to be nominated for Best Director at the Academy Awards, where she won Best Original Screenplay, and has received critical acclaim for her other movies, including The Virgin SuicidesThe Beguiled and The Bling Ring

Jason Schwartzman

Like his brother Robert, Jason is a man of many talents.

When he was just 17 years old, he made his acting debut in Wes Anderson's Rushmore, a film that would mark the beginning of the pair's illustrious partnership. The duo have gone on to create six other movies together: The Darjeeling Limited, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Moonrise Kingdom, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Isle of Dogs and The French Dispatch.

When not collaborating with Wes, Jason has worked with Sofia and her brother, Roman Coppola. He played King Louis XVI opposite Kirsten Dunst in Sofia's Marie Antoinette and executive produced Mozart in the Jungle alongside Roman.

And Jason is to credit for some of the most iconic indie rock songs of the aughts. He played the drums for the band Phantom Planet (remember The O.C. theme song "California"? Yeah, that was written by Jason.) and is the voice behind Coconut Records.

Talia Shire

After starring in The Godfather as Connie Corleone, Francis' sister went on to book roles in other Hollywood classics, including Sylvester Stallone's Rocky. It was her performance as Adrian Pennino that earned her two Academy Award nominations for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. 

Gia Coppola

Born Gian-Carla, the director is the granddaughter of Francis Ford Coppola. She broke onto the scene with 2013's Palo Alto, an indie film based on James Franco's short story of the same title. The movie starred James, Emma RobertsJack KilmerNat Wolff and Zoe Levin, with cousin Robert Schwartzman creating the score. 

She has since released MainstreamAndrew GarfieldMaya Hawke and cousin Jason Schwartzman, a film that she described as a "cautionary fairytale." 

Roman Coppola

Like his sister, Sofia, Roman has become a filmmaker all his own. In addition to writing Moonrise Kingdom with Wes Anderson, Roman has become a respected director in the music video and commercial space. He's collaborated with Daft PunkPhoenixGreen Day and, of course, Coconut Records.

He also received acclaim for his work on the Prime Video series Mozart in the Jungle, which earned him his first-ever Golden Globe Award.

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