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Sofia Coppola Says Her Apple TV+ Series Was Axed Because of Her Lead Being “an Unlikable

Before Sofia Coppola decided to tell Priscilla Presley’s story in A24 biopic Priscilla, she was readying another major project that didn’t end up panning out.

The director had set an adaptation of Edith Wharton’s 1913 novel, The Custom of the Country, at Apple TV+. It was going to be a five-hour limited series, but the streamer decided against it.

Coppola recently told The New York Times that though Apple has a knack for spending big on prestige projects, the executives weren’t fans of the lead character — social climber Undine Spragg — so they started cutting back on how much money they were willing to put into it.

“The idea of an unlikable woman wasn’t their thing,” Coppola told the publication. “But that’s what I’m saying about who’s in charge.”

The Custom of the Country follows Undine, a young woman with social aspirations who convinces her newly rich parents to leave the Midwest and settle in New York, according to the book’s summary. Once in the city, she captures the eye of a young man from high society and ends up marrying him. That relationship and each one after that proved to be unsatisfactory because of her greed and ambition.

The Hollywood Reporter reached out to Apple for comment.

After the novel adaptation fell through, Coppola told The Times that a friend of hers suggested she find something new to direct. So, she read Presley’s biography Elvis and Me for the second time and suddenly saw how she could turn it into her next film. And with Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis just going into production at the time, she figured if it was a hit, then people would be even more interested in Priscilla’s story.

The Marie Antoinette director called up Presley, who she knew was a fan of hers, and asked if she could have the rights to the book. The businesswoman and actress agreed after some wooing and joined the project as an executive producer. Coppola found her leads in Cailee Spaeny and Jacob Elordi.

Some of Apple TV+’s recent series include upcoming Lessons in Chemistry, The Morning Show, Physical and High Desert.

Priscilla hits theaters Nov. 3.

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