Sofia Coppola

June 3, 2013

By Gabrielle. Photo by Jason Schmidt for T Magazine.

Sofia Coppola seems effortlessly cool. Timeless yet current. Serenely driven. And also, according to a recent interview, suspicious.

As she says to her interviewer and friend, Lee Radziwill, “I appreciate that you are a fellow suspicious person. I remember you saying that you are suspicious of people, which I am. It’s always nice when you become friends with someone who sees things in a similar way.”

I think I may have been born without the suspicious gene! But I’m super curious about it. For my more suspicious readers: Do you think it’s a trait from birth — we’ve all seen those babies who stare at you doubtfully from across a room, right?! — or is it a result of being surrounded by people or situations that made you so? You know… nature versus nurture. Also, is it a constant struggle for you (or your cautious kid) to trust someone? How or when do you finally let down your guard?

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Danielle June 3, 2013 at 9:59 am

Great topic!! Being a suspicious one (from birth, I’ve been told), I sometimes wonder if this trait is mistaken for/treated as shyness, especially at a young age. I recall being 3 or 4 years old, hiding behind my mother in new situations… I wasn’t bashful, I was simply questioning and testing these strange people and places. I’m the same today; even more so with my children around. Perhaps I seem reserved or snobby, but I see it now as intelligently cautious. I’ve learned that being suspicious is smart for city life, and is seen as quite normal in other cultures. In Austria they see it as strange to be overtly friendly with a stranger. (Americans perhaps say too much too soon to complete strangers!)

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2 Design Mom June 4, 2013 at 3:16 am

“intelligently cautious”

I like the phrasing. And in France too, it’s strange to be overtly friendly with a stranger.

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3 Valerie J. June 4, 2013 at 7:53 pm

I am a suspicious French woman! I think more than the average French person…I guess there is no hope for me then! :)
I definitely passed it down somehow to my kids who spend a long time observing before engaging. It serves you well in the wild ( camping, hiking in the woods, especially in the rainforest which was ‘part of ‘our backyard for some of my childhood).

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4 Jennifer June 3, 2013 at 10:27 am

I think I was trusting from birth, but learned to be suspicious after growing up in a big city and having my car and home broken into a few times as a young adult. I like to think that I am aware and somewhat street smart, if not suspicious. I do find that giving a warm smile and a hello disarms the people I am most suspicious about and that way we lock eyes too.

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5 Design Mom June 4, 2013 at 3:17 am

I can imagine how growing up in a big city could make you suspicious.

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6 Megan M. June 3, 2013 at 11:34 am

I’m very suspicious. It’s probably why I love mysteries. I’m always thinking “Why did they do that? Why did they say that?” I rely a lot on my intuition about people. Sometimes I meet someone and my hackles are instantly raised. That’s not to say I always know beforehand when someone isn’t worthy of trust – a lot of untrustworthy people are also very charming. There’s a great point made in the book “The Gift of Fear” about charm – charm should always give you pause. Charm means nothing. It doesn’t equal kindness or trustworthiness. You have to look past it to see what someone’s true intentions are.

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7 Design Mom June 4, 2013 at 3:19 am

Interesting thoughts on charm. So fascinating!

I’m curious: do you find your natural suspiciousness and love of mysteries overlaps with enjoying conspiracy theories? Or are they in a different category somehow?

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8 Ann June 3, 2013 at 11:49 am

I’m off topic but I love what she’s wearing!

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9 Design Mom June 4, 2013 at 3:19 am

The coolest!

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10 Cathryn June 3, 2013 at 12:06 pm

I’m ridiculously trusting – I need to cultivate a little suspicion, I think. But I’m also grateful to be this way, I’d rather see the good in people and be disappointed than always look for the bad in people.

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11 Design Mom June 4, 2013 at 3:20 am

Reminds me of the eldest sister in Pride & Prejudice (what’s her name again?). She can only believe the best about people. So sweet!

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12 Becky June 3, 2013 at 12:33 pm

I’m definitely in the “suspicious” category. But I think of it more as a hazard of my career (journalist) than as a personality trait.
You can only spend so many years covering criminal trials and investigating government corruption before you start to notice certain patterns and behaviors, both in the courtroom and in outside life.
Though it can sometimes be a downer, I’m grateful for all that I’ve learned thanks to my suspicious nature. I’m much less likely to chase false leads on a story, for instance, and I can usually catch when someone is lying to me. If I had a superpower, it would probably be that I’m accurately pessimistic, ha!

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13 Design Mom June 4, 2013 at 3:21 am

We’ve got more than one comment from a journalist. I hadn’t thought about that, but of course, that career would be a good fit for a suspicious soul. : )

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14 Alice June 3, 2013 at 12:42 pm

I think it’s a nurture thing, totally, to be more precise a southern European/Catholic thing. I originally come from Spain and I remember my mum constantly telling me ‘Do not trust ANYONE, you can only trust your mother’, which my British husband finds bizarre. She comes from a big Italian family so I can sort of understand that, I often have to overcome my initial mistrusting streak which was ingrained in me from childhood.

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15 Design Mom June 4, 2013 at 3:22 am

Fun to see the range of opinions! I know much of South America is also Catholic. I wonder if they experience the same cultural suspicion.

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16 Mariah June 3, 2013 at 12:57 pm

I am suspicious and feel like I’ve been so all my life! In fact, it even borders cynical at times. I don’t trust easily and don’t believe everything I hear (or read on the internet!) I have to verify sources and others’ stories all the time–but just for my own satisfaction. I also don’t pass on stories or news & statistics unless it’s something I’ve read from a reliable source. I believe I had a natural instinct for these things, but I also believe situations and experiences have further pushed me in that direction. Just an interesting thing to ponder!

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17 Design Mom June 4, 2013 at 3:22 am

It sounds like you’d make a great private investigator!

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18 Marlo Hughen June 3, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Well what exactly do you mean by “suspicious”? I see myself as a critical thinker, and generally trust others, but I see things critically and ask a lot of questions. (No, really, why would you do that in THAT way…?) I find it part of a creative process mostly, observing and seeing details, anomalies. Is this suspicious? That is a trait I have had since birth, as far as I know… And the bad side of it is that people consider me judgmental, but I am actually just very observant and curious. It puts people off somehow though. And it makes me a good interviewer, which is my profession.

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19 Design Mom June 4, 2013 at 3:24 am

Good question, Marlo. I’m not sure exactly what I mean by suspicious. But that line really stuck out to me in the interview. I don’t think I’ve heard very many people describe themselves as suspicious — until I read these comments. : )

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20 Lindsey June 3, 2013 at 1:52 pm

I am definitely a suspicious person. I think it comes from really being able to understand people’s motives and point of view in different situations. As a director and filmmaker, that’s what Sofia Coppola does, so, naturally she is suspicious. And now I like her even more knowing she is! ;) xo

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21 Design Mom June 4, 2013 at 3:24 am

I like her so much. I think she’s fantastic!

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22 Summer June 3, 2013 at 3:54 pm

I agree with Danielle – it started when I was little, just not wanting to “put myself out there.” It was also around that time that I’d come home with stories from school, and my mom would make me question things I’d heard. “Do you *really think* that Tommy flew a helicopter by himself?” or whatever kid stuff was going on. ;) And then there’s the whole stranger-danger thing of my parents never leaving me out of sight, especially if there were any grown men around (family or not). At the time I didn’t understand, but now I do.

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23 Design Mom June 4, 2013 at 3:25 am

It sounds like maybe you inherited your suspicious traits from your mother. Maybe it’s genetic?

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24 Ashley June 3, 2013 at 6:38 pm

I am a generally quiet person but do not feel suspicious, but I am the mother of a very suspicious six year old. No kidding, while we were in the hospital with her as a newborn, she was wide eyed, focused, and studying us. We used to joke that she was the most judgmental infant that ever lived-at six months old she would choose someone near her in a restaurant and study that person the entire time-whipping around in her high chair when they moved. Now, as a kindergartener, she keeps things to herself until we leave a place, then will ask question after question about why someone did something or what someone meant when they said something…nothing gets past her. She is very private from her friends-she did not want anyone to sing happy birthday to her at school or for me to bring cupcakes, as a two year old she did not want us to make a big deal out of toilet training and would refuse to go if we clapped. She is curious about things, but also very private and suspicious. For her, I think it must be nature. She has always been that way.

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25 Design Mom June 4, 2013 at 3:15 am

I love this, Ashley! So interesting to me. I’m always amazed how much our kids are what they are from birth.

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26 Ali June 4, 2013 at 2:45 pm

I was extremely trusting when I was young. From a large family with older sisters & brothers that looked out for me. But eventualy I got burned enough times by “friends” and strangers that now I am very suspicious of everyone and their motives. My daughter is like me when I was young. She only knows people that want the best for her and doesnt get it when I tell her that everyone has their own agenda.

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27 Dominique June 4, 2013 at 5:27 pm

I always say “Trust no one” a la Fox Mulder from X Files. That saying just rings true – even more so as time goes on unfortunately! Also, gotta trust those instincts & intuition – kind of goes hand in hand with the “trust no one quote.

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28 Naomi Niles June 4, 2013 at 8:40 pm

I’m more on the trusting side although the last few years I’ve been learning better. It also helps that I have a husband who’s more on the suspicious side pointing things out to me. I think we balance each other out well!

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