The director and Phoenix frontman met on the set of her film The Virgin Suicides
Sofia Coppola may be a household name amongst movie buffs, but her 12-year marriage to Phoenix frontman Thomas Mars often flies under the radar.
The pair have been married since 2011 and share two daughters, Romy and Cosima. While Coppola and Mars rarely step into the spotlight together, they support each other's work. When Coppola wasn't granted Elvis Presley's music rights to use in her 2023 film Priscilla, Mars and his French pop rock band stepped in to write the score.
"That made us be more creative," she told The Hollywood Reporter in 2023, adding that the band performed a cover of Frankie Avalon's "Venus."
In an interview with the Madrid daily newspaper El Paīs, Mars — whose band is made up of his childhood pals — admitted that he doesn't follow the age-old advice of keeping his work and personal life separate.
"I know they say it shouldn’t be done, but what do I know, it happened naturally," he said. "I do this with my friends, so it’s not a job."
So, who is Sofia Coppola's husband? Here's everything to know about Thomas Mars and his relationship with the filmmaker.
He grew up in Versailles
Mars was born and raised outside of Paris, around the Palace of Versailles, a former home to French royalty that dates back to the 17th century and is known for its rich history, expansive gardens and large artwork collection.
In a 2010 interview with Vulture, Mars spoke about how the area defined his desire to create something new.
"I lived in a museum," he said. "The frustration we had was that everything great happened in the past, and they wouldn’t give the chance for anything new to happen."
Mars told NPR in 2022, he "refused" to enter the palace as a teen, preferring to sneak into the gardens at night instead.
He's the lead singer of the French indie rock band Phoenix
According to a 2018 interview with Indiespect, Mars has been the frontman for Phoenix since it was founded in 1996. But he began recording music with his bandmates — Christian Mazzalai, Laurent Brancowitz and Deck D’Arcy — much earlier.
"We were really about 10 years old when we started doing things," he told The Creative Independent in 2017, adding that he attempted to pursue other career paths but dropped out of college after four days. "Apart from bartending, music is the only thing I know how to do."
The band has released seven studio albums and won a Grammy with their fourth record, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix.
He met Coppola while working on The Virgin Suicides
Coppola and Mars first met on the set of her 1999 movie The Virgin Suicides, where he was asked to play drums and sing on the track "Playground Love." At the time, she was married to director Spike Jonze, but they divorced in 2003.
As it turns out, The Virgin Suicides would be just the first of many projects on which Coppola and Mars would collaborate. Phoenix has contributed songs to Lost in Translation, Somewhere, The Bling Ring and The Beguiled. The band also made a cameo in her 2006 film Marie Antoinette as a lute-playing quartet.
"It’s hard to differentiate the work from the private life, but I’ve always felt a really strong connection watching her movies,” Mars said in a 2017 interview with Dazed. "There are things in her movies that only make sense once you see them."
They got married in Italy
Coppola and Mars tied the knot on Aug. 27, 2011, after announcing their engagement in May that same year. The small, 80-person civil ceremony was held at a villa in Southern Italy where her grandparents grew up, and the couple's daughters were in attendance.
The town's mayor officiated the garden ceremony, telling PEOPLE that the event was "simple." Her father, director Francis Ford Coppola, walked her down the aisle as she donned a custom lavender dress.
They have a "no public social media" rule for their kids
In March 2023, Romy went viral on TikTok for sharing that she was grounded after trying to charter a helicopter from New York to Maryland on Mars' credit card to have dinner with her camp friend.
The video has since been deleted, but the teenager revealed that her parents' "biggest rule" is that she isn't allowed to have any public social media accounts.
While Mars didn't comment on the incident, Coppola said she's gotten compliments on her daughter's filmmaking.
"She's funny," she told THR. "But people discussing my parenting publicly is not what I would've hoped for."
His band's latest album was inspired by a near-death experience
In November 2022, Phoenix released their seventh studio album, Alpha Zulu, which they recorded in the Louvre during “the middle of the pandemic." Mars later revealed that the inspiration for the name came from a near-death experience he had while sitting in the copilot seat on a flight from Belize.
"The plane was turbulent and the pilot was talking to the control tower and saying like, what’s working? What altitude can I go to? Because this is bad," he told El Paīs.
Mars said the control tower answered the pilot with the indicator of the ship: Alpha Zulu.
"I was looking at everyone screaming and reacting. I had never witnessed how someone reacts to the possibility of their death. I thought I had forgotten, but one day in the studio, improvising, I started singing: ‘Alpha Zulu, Alpha Zulu.’ "
His uncle was a well-known literary critic
Coppola isn't the only one with famous family ties. Mars is the nephew of German journalist, novelist and literary critic Hellmuth Karasek, who died in 2015.
The singer said he was "a really fun encyclopedia" and a big supporter of Phoenix.
"One of the first shows that we played in Versailles a lot of people didn’t really care for the band," Mars told Indiespect. "And I remember at the end of that show he was the first one who started clapping. He knew the potential."
They live in New York, but Mars works in Paris
According to The New York Post, Coppola and Mars lived in Paris for a few years before relocating to New York City in 2010 after their two daughters were born. Still, the singer told Indiespect that he goes back to Paris once a month to work with the rest of his bandmates.
He later shared with NPR that Phoenix's 2022 song "My Elixir" is about the feeling of being away from his family.
"The song is mostly about exile because ... whether we're on tour or away from our families or away from home ... you can only enjoy those moments as long as you know that there's a home for you that is still there."
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