Sofia Coppola Says Kirsten Dunst Gave Her the Idea to Cast Cailee Spaeny in ‘Priscilla’

The filmmaker’s longtime muse passes the torch to her “Civil War” costar and “Mare of Easttown” breakout

Kirsten Dunst and Cailee Spaeny
Kirsten Dunst in "The Beguiled" and Cailee Spaeny in "Priscilla" (Credit: Focus Features/A24)

The idea to cast Cailee Spaeny in Sofia Coppola’s latest unlikely biopic came from none other than the filmmaker’s “Marie Antoinette” star (and otherwise longtime collaborator and muse) Kirsten Dunst.

Coppola revealed the tidbit behind her journey making “Priscilla” in her new W cover story profile, saying that when Dunst comes in with a suggestion, she tends to listen to it.

“Kirsten is like a sister to me, and when she recommended Cailee, I paid attention,” Coppola said.

Dunst met Spaeny while working with her on Alex Garland’s upcoming feature, “Civil War.” The 25-year-old actress is previously best known for her breakout work on Kate Winslet’s HBO miniseries, “Mare of Easttown.”

Spaeny told the magazine that she saw Dunst’s casting recommendation as a sort of passing of the torch.

“Sofia pulled out her iPad and showed me some photos of Priscilla,” Spaeny recalled of her first meeting with the filmmaker. “She said, ‘I think you could do it!’ I felt like Kirsten had passed the torch to me.”

“I’ve had an obsession with Sofia since ‘The Virgin Suicides,’” she later added. “That movie rocked me in a way that I had never felt before.”

Coppola and Dunst first met while memorably working on the former’s first feature film, “The Virgin Suicides” in 1999. Coppola went on to cast her in 2006’s “Marie Antoinette” and 2017’s “The Beguiled.” Much has been said of their friendship and decades-spanning work together, and as part of W’s cover package, Coppola said in a supplementary video that the actress is an “important collaborator and like a sister to me. As soon as I met her, I just instantly had a shorthand with her.”

Based on the memoir “Elvis and Me” by Priscilla Beaulieu Presley, “Priscilla” costars Jacob Elordi as Elvis Presley and is produced by Coppola, Youree Henley, Lorenzo Mieli of The Apartment, a Fremantle Company and American Zoetrope.

For her performance in “Priscilla,” Spaeny won the Volpi Cup for Best Actress at this year’s Venice Film Festival.

“Priscilla” hits U.S. theaters Nov. 3 via A24.


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