The new pic is based on an article in Vanity Fair by Nancy Jo Sales about a real-life robbery ring composed of bored kids from an L.A. suburb. As the account goes, the group decided to break into the houses of socialites like Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan in order to get a taste of the high life.
Coppola, who chose Emma Watson to anchor her cast of unknowns, took advice from her legendary filmmaker father, Francis Ford Coppola, on working with her actors. With such movies as Lost in Translation and Marie Antoinette to her credit, she has forged a career that would make the old man proud. Here, she chats with R29 about the film.
The basis for the film is from an article you read in Vanity Fair. Can you talk about the genesis of this idea?
“I was on an airplane looking at Vanity Fair, and when I read this article. I thought, ‘It sounds like a movie, I am sure someone is making a movie of this.’ I found out about the rights and the journalist and the more I talked to her, she showed me all her transcripts with a lot of the quotes from the real kids talking about the story. I thought the whole thing was so fascinating and so contemporary. This story couldn’t have happened ten years ago. It was an interesting story for me and it says so much about our culture today.”
Can you talk about the casting?
“Yeah, my casting team spent a year meeting young actors and helped me put together this group. They suggested I meet Emma. It was interesting to see an actor that you have seen in other films really transform into a character that’s so different from her. The advice that my father always told me was that the writing and the acting was the most important part, so learn as much as you can."
Did you have any views on the enormous wealth of the people who were victimized? Since Paris Hilton and other famous people appear in the film, can you talk about their involvement?
“This world we are showing is definitely a world of excess. I take everything in moderation, but this depiction is a real excessive side of all of that. And we did shoot in Paris’ real house, so it was really interesting to be at one of the locations where an actual robbery took place. She showed us security footage of the kids there. Her house is very exotic; I have never seen a place like that before.”
Did it occur to you that a Louis Vuitton bag stolen by one of these people was signed by you?
“I think our movie is about bling and I don’t feel like the design work I did is part of that universe. But, definitely they coveted the luxury brands that are so present and seen all the time.”
Is this is a story particular to Los Angeles?
“I think Los Angeles is the epicenter of this aspect of American culture — composed of the pop celebrity world and reality TV stars. All of it is based in Los Angeles, so this story had to take place there. The real story did, and we couldn’t set it somewhere else, because these kids were living in suburbia right over the hill. All these celebrities — and you could actually see them — it’s the center of show business here. But, internationally, I think it’s more about modern culture.”
Social media is also an important part of the movie.
“That’s one of the reasons why I thought the story was so contemporary, because it was so different from when I was growing up, or even ten years ago. There’s so much information that we have an information overload and lack of privacy. I felt that these kids knew so much about the people — they knew what they ate for breakfast — and so it had a big impact.”
These teenagers wanted to have a taste of fame, and now they have a Sofia Coppola movie about them. Was there any attempt to get them involved?
“The reason I changed the names of the characters was that I didn’t want to make those kids more famous than they already are for what they did. I met two of the kids and it was interesting to hear some of the stories and all of the details. The boy told me that one of the girls wanted to steal Paris Hilton’s dog, and you couldn’t even make up something like that. So those little details added a lot to the story. But, I definitely didn’t want to add to their celebrity, which is part of the story as well.”
The Bling Ring will be out in New York and L.A. on June 14, and nationwide on June 21.
Photo: Matt Baron/BEImages