06/13/2013 10:41 am ET

Katie Chang & Israel Broussard On 'The Bling Ring' & Staging Fake Break-Ins For Research


Based on their social media personas, Katie Chang and Israel Broussard are just like most other 18 year olds. They post photos of food, offer shout-outs to friends and express professions of love toward Daft Punk. They are, of course, not like most other 18 year olds, by sheer virtue of the fact that Chang and Broussard play the lead roles in Sofia Coppola's new film, "The Bling Ring."

The latest in a recent trend of movies about the American dream gone wrong (see also "Spring Breakers" and "Pain & Gain"), "The Bling Ring" focuses on a group of teenagers who rob from the houses of Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Orlando Bloom and other celebrities simply because they can. (In most cases, the stars don't even lock their doors; Hilton had her key hidden under the doormat.) The film is based on the real-life kids who composed the Bling Ring, a group that made headlines after a string of crimes in 2008 and 2009. (The case was detailed in the Vanity Fair piece "The Suspects Wore Louboutins" and the E! series "Pretty Wild.") Chang and Broussard play variations of Rachel Lee and Nick Prugo, the group's de facto leaders, while co-star Emma Watson brings life to Nicki, a not-so-veiled take on reality television personality and alleged Bling Ring conspirator Alexis Neiers.

With "The Bling Ring" out in limited release on June 14, HuffPost Entertainment spoke to Chang and Broussard about the research they did for the film, the fake break-ins that brought the cast closer together, and Broussard's most embarrassing onscreen moment.

Did you watch "Pretty Wild" for research?

Chang: We did, actually. It was terrifying.

Broussard: I was completely oblivious to that show and reality TV in general. I knew it was there, but I didn't watch reality TV or show an interest in it in any way.

Chang: I had heard about the story. I, too, didn't watch reality television. I remember seeing ads for "Pretty Wild" on TV and hearing about the story when I was younger.

What else did you do for research?

Chang: We did a lot of research. Our characters are really interested in fashion, so we had to do a lot of stuff for that. We watched reality television. I watched "The Hills" for the first time. I'm now obsessed with "Laguna Beach" too. I watch it all the time. The third season sucks but the first two are really great. "Keeping Up With The Kardashians" …

Broussard: I watched a lot of "Fashion Police"; I had discs I had to go through. We got all the stock footage and police records from the case. It was kind of hard to read because it was all cop handwriting, but it was cool. No one had ever seen that outside of the courtroom. I also had to learn how to walk in heels. All that was my research.

You two and the core group have such good chemistry together. Was all the research done together to give you all more of a connection?

Chang: We had an entire week where we just got to hang out with each other. I was amazed because I had went to a public high school, and I've found that when you put five people in a room who are about the same age it doesn't always work out. But we all liked each other.

Broussard: I think Sofia did a good job preparing us together. Also, the fact that we are in a movie and we have to put up with each other, regardless, for nine and a half weeks. I think that also helps. But that pre-production week was great. Katie and I went to Spin class and that's when we kind of connected. I hated it [laughs]. Then we did a mock break-in. We fake broke into someone's house -- they knew we were there. When we did that, it all kind of clicked and all the chemistry came together and we realized these kids were doing it for fun and not trying to be sneaky.

Chang: We figured out everybody's role, too. We were all trying to be parts of our character when we were doing the mock break-in, but we also just fell really naturally into it. I was given all the instructions, so I was in charge. Also, in my real life, I'm super bossy and totally annoying.

Broussard: Stubborn is the word.

Chang: Stubborn. I was like, "Hurry up everyone! What the hell are you doing?" Taissa [Farmiga] was not even helping. Her character in the film is so wild and does whatever she wants, so Taissa was getting food and lounging and laughing. Claire [Julien] was grabbing anything that looked pretty and that she wanted.

Broussard: I remember that she would grab the first thing she saw. She would read the label and ask if it was on the list. I don't think Claire grabbed one thing that was on the list we had.

Chang: She was looking for the best labels and picking the things she liked the most.

Broussard: Claire had the eye for all the fashion, not necessarily the list.

About the break-ins: My favorite scene in the movie is when Marc and Rebecca rob Audrina Patridge's house. Sofia shot that in one take from behind the house. What went into putting that shot together?

Chang: Everyone talks about that one. We did two takes of that. We had really limited time and it was a big production.

Broussard: Actually, the cinematographer, Harris Savides, at the time we shot that he was away. He was sick. But he was still part of the project. He was really pushing to get that take.

Chang: That was his shot.

Broussard: It was a busy schedule, so we weren't sure if we were going to squeeze it in there.

Chang: It took a while to set up and everybody was like, "This isn't worth it."

Broussard: We squeezed it in there. It was blood sweat and tears, but it came together and it's a nice way to leave his legacy. [Ed. note: Savides died in October of 2012.]

Chang: That was fun. My perception of making a movie before I started making movies was that it would be like "Spy Kids." We would be running around and jumping off of cars and being in front of green screens the entire time. During those two takes, though, it felt like we were in an action movie because that was the only time we had to hit certain marks. It had to be choreographed. It's nice because it's one of the last times you see Marc and Rebecca together; after that everyone is with them.

Sofia has said that these characters are not very sympathetic. What did you think about them?

Broussard: There were some obstacles I had to overcome with my character, definitely, but after filming it I'm glad I did it and I'm glad I did it the way I did. There wasn't much for me to be worried about.

Chang: But don't you often say that you didn't really know how sympathetic Marc would be until you saw the movie?

Broussard: You read the script focusing on how you'll play the scene and not focusing on the big picture. Reading the script and working on it day by day, I didn't realize how much sympathy Marc pulls in. Seeing that made it a little different. It was like, "OK." I didn't realize I was that spot in the film, but Sofia did a good job bringing that out.

Katie, do you think you're the villain?

Chang: I think it would have been easy for somebody to play her completely mean and awful -- as this raging, horrible person. Sofia, however, encouraged me to downplay the meanness. It creates this creepy character -- you don't want to piss her off, but you also know she's not mean either. She's just way too focused on getting these things.

She does befriend Marc in the first place, which is maybe a twist on the expectations people might have about a character like her.

Chang: She takes him under her wing and you're happy because he made a friend. Then it's like, "Oh, you are now friends with a sociopath." No, I think for Rebecca, she saw somebody who would look up to her and that's what she wanted.

Israel, walk us through that moment when Marc is lip-syncing "Drop It Low" into his computer.

Chang: That's my favorite scene, but he hates talking about it. Any time we watch that scene, Taissa, Claire and I are like, "Oh my God."

Broussard: OK, so: I had seen the actual video of Nick Prugo, the character I play, doing that. It was a couple of days before we filmed the scene and Sofia shows me the video. I said, "I've already seen it." She said, "Oh, you want to do it?" So, I said yes. I'm not going to say no to Sofia Coppola. It was weird, though. The entire time I was like, "I'm just bombing this. I'm doing so bad."

Chang: No!

Broussard: I guess me thinking that and me being vulnerable about that brought out more than me actually trying to be perfect and hot. Sofia is sneaky, man. She knows what she's doing. She knows how to pull it out of you in a very discreet way.

'The Bling Ring'