Katie Chang Interview
Sofia Coppola’s latest film The Bling Ring is based on true events surrounding a series of robberies orchestrated by teenagers on celebrity homes in the Hollywood Hills. Actress Katie Chang made her film debut as Rebecca, the “Bling Ring’s” mastermind. I sat down with Chang on a rainy Thursday at the Eliot Hotel to talk about the film, fashion, reality TV, and what it was like working with Sofia Coppola.
Suffolk Voice: Do you have a favorite Sophia Coppola film?
Katie Chang: I like her first one “Virgin Suicides” but also I like all of them. But I’m a little biased because I know her now and loved working with her. I think if you take a little bit of each one you can kinda create the epitome of a Sofia movie. They’re all just perfect in their own special ways
Suffolk Voice: Did you watch Pretty Wild? [The E! reality show which followed real life “bling ring” member Alexi Neirs]
KC: when I was younger I remember seeing them on Chelsea Lately and doing the talk show circuit, and I remember watching previews for it and never watched it because I really don’t watch reality TV cause I think it’s really silly. But once I booked the film I watched it over and over and over again and it was…frightening…have you ever seen it?
Suffolk Voice: It’s quite the train wreck
KC: Its a train wreck cause, it was so obvious they were being fed all those lines too, there was no effort to cover up the fact that it wasn’t actually reality.
Suffolk Voice: Did you find any of those reality shows to be the most helpful in understanding the characters?
KC: Yeah absolutely, I watched a lot of…well what was fun for me was I watched from Season 1 of Laguna beach all the way to the end of the hills, so I watched Lauren Conrad all the way until she left, and it was fun to see her get kinda swept off into that lifestyle, so I got to kind of, see that progression, but yeah I mean I watched a ton of those reality TV shows, Israel [Broussard] watched Fashion Police every day with Giuliana Rancic and like Kelly Osbourne and we watched Keeping Up with the Kardashians…and I watched the Shaws Of Sunset. It’s this stupid show about this Persian family that lives on Sunset Boulevard, which was pretty funny. I just tried to get my hands on anything about LA that was somewhat rooted in reality.
Suffolk Voice: When I saw the film, I liked Rebecca, I didn’t hate her, there was something very likable about her. How did you make that come across? Because with Valley girls it’s very easy for them to come across as extremely vapid and mean or even just caricatures.
KC: Well, what was really important to Sofia was the relationship between Marc and Rebecca and it’s funny because the note I always got in auditions from Sofia was “be meaner, be meaner!” and on set the note I always got was “be a little less mean.” But Sofia really wanted at the beginning in the earlier scenes it to be clear that there is a reason Marc wants to be friends with her. There had to be some friendliness and some exciting qualities to her that makes Marc want to be her friend and makes it plausible to the audience that they would become friends. So, I think there was definitely a progression of crazy that you start to see in Rebecca, and then at the beginning what the audience really responds to is the sugary sweetness to her that entices Marc.
Suffolk Voice: What do you think Marc saw in Rebecca?
KC: Rebecca was obsessed with these women, like Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan and she wanted someone that was obsessed with her. And she saw Marc as this really malleable kid who would follow her around wagging his tail.
Suffolk Voice: Your character steals a lot of amazing designer clothes, shoes, and bags in the film. Is there anything that you wish you could’ve stolen? Anything from your wardrobe?
KC: For the entire first third of the movie I wear like a tribal jumpsuit, and I really hated that jumpsuit so I’m okay with being away from it. But there was this one Louis Vuitton skirt that I wear when we rob Megan Fox and Brian Austin Green’s house and that was really a cool skirt, cause like who wears a skirt to a robbery? Rebecca.
Suffolk Voice: Speaking of robberies, Sofia Coppola had you and the rest of the cast rob a house together in preparation for the film, what was that like?
KC: Yeah, so I got an email when I was at home saying that you’re gonna do a whole prep week with the kids and you may break into a house but we’ll let you know if you do. And then like on a Tuesday night I got an email “Rebecca this is your mission, here’s the address figure out how you’re going to get there” and of course I didn’t have a car so I had no idea how I was gonna get there. Then it said “here’s a list of things that you have to steal, bring Nikki, Chloe, Marc and Sam with you, have fun.” So I printed out the directions and I made our P.A Katie drive us. It was fun we all climbed over a fence and hopped through a window and ran upstairs and got in and out in 15 minutes we were scary good at doing it.
Suffolk Voice: Throughout the movie you see the characters bragging about the robberies they just committed at parties, and in a way it seems like they wouldn’t have gotten caught if they hadn’t run their mouths. Also, Rebecca is the mastermind of this whole thing and seems pretty smart, but given her obsession with Lindsay Lohan who is most famous now for her arrests than being an actress, do you think Rebecca wanted to get caught?
KC: For me I don’t really think she wanted to get caught. In any situation Rebecca’s in she’s always in the mentality that she can fix it and it’ll be better. No she’s not gonna get in trouble, why would she ever get in trouble? She’s Rebecca. I think the reason people think she wanted to get caught is that she didn’t at all consider the consequences and thats what creates that perception that, oh maybe she was crying for help but really she was crying for attention. She wanted to have those clothes and bags so people would come up to her at parties and she could brag about this cool thing she was doing and people would want to be her friend because of it.
Suffolk Voice: What do you hope people get out of the film?
KC: I hope there is a contrast between when you see them in the film robbing these celebrities and having fun and then their lives get ruined cause they get caught and everything falls apart. I hope there’s a contrast between the fun first part of the film and the sobering second part.
The Bling Ring is in theaters everywhere now.