Getting to Know The Bling Ring

One of the many exciting events that occurred during SIFF 2013 was the closing night screening of Sofia Coppola’s latest film, The Bling Ring. As part of the promotion for the movie, I had a chance to meet two of its stars, Katie Chang and Israel Broussard. While those names might not currently be familiar to most audiences, they play the ringleaders of the band of teenage thieves, with bigger roles than many established stars like Emma Watson, Leslie Mann, and Taissa Farmiga.

The first thing that immediately stood out upon meeting the young actors was their humble and earnest demeanor. Despite being at an early point in their careers, they are starring in a film that premiered during the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, opposite major movie stars like Watson. It would’ve been very understandable to see all this go to their heads while they’ve been on a worldwide media tour, and yet they didn’t show the faintest signs of that. It felt like they truly appreciated having the chance to chat about the movie and were grateful for everyone going to see it. Because of their young ages, both actors spoke about the importance family has had on keeping them level during all the craziness. Both also spoke about growing up outside of the glitz of Los Angeles. While being in the spotlight has been intense, it also helped to put them in the mindset of the movie.

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Despite the extensive media coverage of the real-life crimes, neither Chang nor Broussard knew much about it going into filming. Both made a clear point of praising Coppola for letting them explore, improvise, and create their characters, rather than trying to simply recreate true events. They were given research materials on the case to familiarize them and given the opportunity to do a test break-in as part of the cast bonding process, but it wasn’t until afterward that Chang said she accidentally stumbled upon an episode of American Greed while watching late night TV. Broussard still hasn’t looked into it further.

Both said it was a pretty amazing experience meeting Paris Hilton and filming the break-in scenes about her in her actual house. One of the most important parts that worked for them as young actors, and the movie overall, was the flow the cast had together. Their natural chemistry helped them with the film, and Coppola’s process in making sure everyone was bonded was a huge part in helping to cultivate the feeling that these were real friendships.

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Understandably, both young actors were very excited about the opportunity to be in such a major movie, but neither has really experienced “fame” from starring in it yet, except when they’ve happened to be around Watson when she was being mobbed fans/reporters. Despite the notoriety the film has been receiving, neither feels that they are famous yet. When I challenged them on the irony that they are starring in a film about celebrities having their privacy invaded as they become celebrities themselves, Broussard made a point of saying his privacy is of the utmost importance to him, going so far as to say that going without at least a couple of hours to himself a day makes him unhappy.

Many thanks to Israel Broussard and Katie Chang for their time. The Bling Ring is being released in Seattle on June 21st.


Spencer was born and raised in New Mexico. He grew up with the many great films of the 1980’s before having his world rocked after seeing The Usual Suspects. He moved to Washington State to go to the University of Washington, and currently any free time he currently has is split between working on film projects and watching films.

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