Sofia Coppola talks The Bling Ring and "courageous" Emma Watson

Sofia Coppola talks The Bling Ring and "courageous" Emma Watson

We meet Sofia Coppola to talk new movie The Bling Ring, the rise of celebrity culture and how Emma Watson "transformed" to earn herself the leading role…

Cinema is in Sofia Coppola's blood thanks to her Godfather director dad, Francis Ford Coppola, and after dabbling with careers in acting and fashion, she found her forte also lied in making movies. Following on from four exquisitely understated releases, dating back to 1999, is her latest imagining, The Bling Ring.

Previously Sofia has examined the notion of celebrity from the inside - Somewhere follows a disillusioned actor and Marie Antionette is a visual feast about the Archduchess' fame and fortune - so she charts new territory with The Bling Ring. Based on the real-life robberies performed by a group of teens in 2009 who were so obsessed with celebrities and their style that they looted the houses of stars including Paris Hilton and Orlando Bloom, the film brings to light what it really means to be famous in the here and now - the age of social media.

Here's what Sofia had to say about celebrity culture, her long-term muses, Marc Jacobs and Kirsten Dunst, and her new allies, Emma Watson and Paris Hilton

When you first read about the Bling Ring robberies what made you want to translate the story into a movie?

I remember hearing it on the news and it was this absurd story that these kids were going to Paris Hilton's house and behind this big heist. Then I read the article in Vanity Fair and it just had all the elements of a great movie, because it was exciting and glamorous, but also has a dark side - it says a lot about our culture today and how we live.

Social media is at the centre of the story. How do you think social networking has effected the notion of celebrity?

It seems like there aren't as many boundaries. These kids [who committed the Bling Ring crimes] feel like they know [the celebrities they robbed] and they can go and hang out in their houses because it's almost like they're friends with them, because they just don't have the same mystique. I thought it was so specific to our time, such a new thing.

How did you help the cast get into character to for the looting scenes?

I tried to tell the story from the kids point of view so the audience can experience it with them, so I tried to make all the stuff they were into look really seductive, and I think it was a big thrill for them. They were sixteen, they weren't really thinking the same way an adult would. I had them watch heist movies that romanticise and make it look fun because that's where we were coming from.

Did you have the chance to interview the stars who were robbed by the Bling Ring?

The only person we talked to was Paris Hilton who let us film in her real house which was amazing to see. For the others we just invented our own version. They weren't that much based on the real homes, just our idea - we wanted to show this Hollywood celebrity world so in contrast to the Valley where the kids live - this average suburban place.

What was Paris's reaction to the movie?

She saw it at Cannes and she told me "I loved it when everyone saw my pictures in the hallway and laughed", so she has a sense of humour about it. She said she got emotional when she saw them in her house though, as it was her real home.

Emma Watson stars in the movie - what made you cast her?

I wouldn't have thought of her because she's so different from this character [Nicki], but my casting people met her and liked her and said I should meet her. I thought she was really smart and had an interesting take on that world. She made this tape where she put on lipgloss and made herself into this LA party girl and I was really impressed because it's so different for her. She did a great job of transforming herself. I'd never thought of her in that part and she really convinced me. She did a great job of blending in with the others and not standing out.

What can you see Emma doing next?

I'm not sure, but I feel she makes great choices, so it'll be interesting to see. She's done kid roles in the past and now she's taken risks with this part, which is courageous.

Kirsten Dunst is one of your muses. What do you love about her?

I've known Kirsten since she was sixteen, I feel like a big sister to her. She's just really funny and relaxed and doesn't take herself too seriously, but then she's sweet and sincere. She's someone I really connect with.

Any plans to cast Kirsten again soon?

I don't have any plans yet, but I love to work with her.

How about Kristen and Emma starring in one of your movies together?

Yeah, I'd never though about that...

The Bling Ring premiered at Cannes, did that feel poignant?

Yeah, it felt like the right place because it's so bling! You have to pass the Louis Vuitton store on the way to the screenings and the whole red carpet culture seemed really fitting.


It must have been fun for the cast after playing dress up in the film…

Yeah they had the real red carpet experience this time - it was fun to see them all there for their first time.

And do you enjoy the red carpet experience?

It's fun to do once in a while because I don't do it all the time.

You wear a lot of your friend Marc Jacobs' designs...

I just love him, we've been friends for a long time now. The stuff he does for me is elegant and understated, yeah - I just love Louis.

To finish, let's move on to some quick fire...

I never leave the house without... Lipbalm

If I could cast anyone in a movie it would be… Steve McQueen

Growing up I was most inspired by… Elvis Costello

If I could live in any era it would be… The 60s in Italy

My guilty pleasure is… Well, everyone's watching Honey Boo Boo - I haven't, but I think it would be a good one… Just random TV really. I'm looking forward to getting into Downton Abbey - all of my friends love it. I haven't had so much downtime lately what with my movie, but I'm looking forward to that, plus I love Mad Men and Arrested Development.

The Bling Ring is in cinemas now.

By Hayley Spencer



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