[Editor's Note: This article was originally published during the Cannes Film Festival, where "The Bling Ring" had its world premiere. It opens this Friday in select theaters.]
The last time Academy Award-winner Sofia Coppola hit up La Croisette to unveil a new work, 2006's "Marie Antoinette," the Hollywood royal child was met with boos. History didn't repeat itself when "The Bling Ring" kicked off the Cannes' Un Certain Regard section this morning after screening to a packed house of press. No surprise really, given that it takes a pretty straightforward approach to telling its true story of teens gone wild. Not being about one of France's most divisive historical figures also no doubt helped.
Based on the Vanity Fair article "The Suspects Wore Louboutins," "The Bling Ring" stars Emma Watson (sporting an impeccable Valleyese accent and outfitted skimpy clothing that would make her Harry Potter blush), Taissa Farmiga and a string of newcomers including Israel Broussard, Katie Chang, Claire Julien and Georgia Rock, as a group of Southern California high schoolers who infamously stole close to a whopping $2 million worth of goodies from the likes of Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Megan Fox. Coppola's film opens with the crew each recounting the series of events after being found out by the cops.
Before tonight's official premiere screening, Coppola and her main cast spoke to the press. Below are some choice highlights:
Coppola chose to make the movie because of the article's cinematic nature:
"I had a heard a little bit," Coppola said when asked how familiar she was with the tale before she decided the adapt the article. "I didn't pay that much attention. When I read the article, I thought it sounded like a movie. The more i talked to the journalist and read the transcripts, I thought whole thing was so fascinating and so contemporary and said so much about our culture today."
None of the celebs whose houses were robbed by the group have seen the film…yet:
"Paris Hilton might be coming tonight," Coppola said. "I'm curious to see what she thinks of it."
Coppola doesn't care what the real life folks think of the film:
"It's not a documentary; we made a movie. I'm not too concerned with their reaction. The reason I changed the names of the characters is that I didn't want to make the kids more famous than they are. I didn't want to add to their celebrity."
Coppola played music on set to get the actors in the mood:
"Music is always a big part of making the atmosphere. I really enjoy that part of it. The opening sequence -- I had that in mind and I played that music for the actors. Some music we found filming. We played a lot on set. For me, the hip-hop side of it was less familiar but it was fun to get into music that's not my usual thing."
Coppola sees this as a natural follow-up to "Somewhere":
"When I was working on 'Somewhere,' I was thinking of this idea of wanting to achieve celebrity and what happens when you get there. And then this is the development of that same thought on another level. You're seeing it more and more emphasized in our culture."
This is Coppola's most hectic film for a reason:
"I tried to make the film in the style of the world we were porting -- Facebook images etc… collage style with ADD, no attention span, lots of information. I tried to incorporate all that in the style of the world we were encompassing."
Emma Watson is a changed woman:
"Harry Potter' feels so long ago," the starlet said, "but it's still very present in people's minds. I'm not trying to run away from it, but I've just had such an amazing three years having the chance to transform and work with creative people."
Watson is OK with reality celebs:
"I think there are celebs who create a brand and create a business and a whole life out of other people's interests, and there are people who don't -- who have a craft and a trade. I think as long as people know the difference, it's OK. [In LA and Hollywood] I think if there's a demand for a type of show or type of image, people will supply it. I just think reality TV is another way of telling a story. It's a different type of acting but that's what it is."
Watson watched "The Hills" to prep:
"I had a lot of work to do to get into charter for Nikki. I watched 'The Hills' and 'Keeping Up With the Kardashians' to understand her psychology. It's easy for her to feel like a parody and I had to understand and sympathize with her. That was the most difficult thing, second to learning the very specific dialect."
Coppola welcomes boos:
"It's great having different reactions. I'm happy to have people engage with it and have an opinion."
A24 opens "The Bling Ring" in select theaters, June 14.