“The Bling Ring” is a new Sofia Coppola movie, a true crime story about a ring of mostly teen girls who burglarized the homes of a string of celebrities.
At first blush, 18-year-old actor Israel Broussard may seem like an odd choice to play the one boy in “The Bling Ring,” a real group of fashion-obsessed Hollywood teenagers who ransacked a series of celebrities’ homes.
He’s a kid from Mississippi who admits he didn’t know the first thing about fashion. “This movie is based around fashion. We’re in these homes stealing Balenciaga, Louis Vuitton, so that was very important – that I had to know all the names. Actually, Dior, the brand, I used to call “Doo-wah.” In the table read, I said my line and everybody just stopped and looked at me like, ‘What?!'”
In other words, Broussard had a lot of research to do.
“We watched a lot of reality TV. And actually, Sofia told me to watch Fashion Police, so she sent me DVDs. And of course learning to walk in heels – we did little fashion shows.”
That’s right, his character has a thing for women’s shoes, so learning to walk in heels was a skill he had to master. Broussard also couldn’t exactly relate to “The Bling Ring” characters’ obsession with celebrity. Even though he stars in the film with Emma Watson, a mega-star from the Harry Potter movies, he had never even seen her on screen.
“I was glad I hadn’t seen it (Harry Potter) because you see “Harry Potter” and then you see Emma Watson you say, ‘Gosh, I know you from “Harry Potter.”‘ But I don’t know her from anywhere so I’m just meeting her as a person,” said Broussard.
He got a taste of what being a celebrity is like while on a shoot with Watson on Venice Beach, “As we’re leaving that set one person says, ‘Oh my gosh! It’s Emma Watson!’ Then the paparazzi comes and the next thing you know we have to mob out of there. That kind of gave us perspective on what its like to be a celebrity, because we were in the middle of it. And even though they weren’t after us, they were after Emma, we still kind of got the feel. It’s claustrophobic,” “Broussard said. “I get it, it’s Emma Watson, but at the same time, give her some space.”
Speaking of celebrities, Paris Hilton plays herself in the film.
“I had met her when we were doing the cameo scene. I said ‘Hi.’ [I was] a little nervous on that one, because I knew who Paris Hilton was,” said Broussard.
Not only was Hilton a frequent victim of the real Bling Ring, she gave the filmmakers complete access to her home and her belongings.
“Everything you see in the Paris scene, that’s all her stuff. There was not one thing added.”
I asked, don’t you think it’s odd that Paris Hilton has pillows with pictures of herself on them?
“Since, she was at Cannes and she was at the premiere so I’ve talked to her a little bit, and those pillows were actually a gift. She’s actually got a very good sense of humor about herself. She’s actually very smart and intellectual. She’s not this ditzy girl she puts herself out to be. That’s of course what makes her money, so by all means, go for it,” said Broussard. “She’s actually a really awesome woman and I have a lot of respect for her because the fact that she had people just invade her privacy like this, and then have a film crew come in and invade her privacy all over again in the same thing, that’s got to be tough.”
Although the Bling Ring members eventually got caught – and got off too easily, according to Broussard, he does think, in the end, he understands them.
“These kids weren’t thinking, ‘Hey – let’s go rob Paris Hilton.’ They were thinking, ‘Let’s go to Paris’ house and chill.’ They wanted to be Paris, they wanted to be Lindsay Lohan. I’m not saying what they did was right at all. I just understand where and why they were going there,” said Broussard. “They did something new, they did something out of the box, and they got in trouble for it, but they took the risk.”