Sofie Coppola on fame, infamy and robbing the rich in The Bling Ring
Sofia Coppola dicusses her take on a notorious tale of celebrity obsession in The Bling Ring
“All that is different to when we were growing up. We reacted against things,” she muses. “Every generation looks at the younger generation and doesn’t get it. I feel like the parental generation, looking at them. We didn’t have reality TV or the internet. That can affect people my age, of course. But to be bombarded at that age is very different.”
The obsession with empty celebrity really comes through in the later sections of the film when the gang are arrested and garner a modicum of fame for themselves. Staying true to their own corrupt philosophy, they treat the reasons for their fame as an irrelevance. It’s merely the celebrity itself that matters. The script repackages phrases from interviews given by Rachel Lee, alleged ringleader of the group, in the weeks after her arrest. Andy Warhol could not have dreamt this up.
“When Rachel was arrested she said first: ‘What does Lindsay [Lohan] think of it?’ She really said that in a police report,” Coppola says, “In interviews she’d say: ‘I don’t want to talk about the robberies.’ She had this delusion that they wanted to interview her because she was this ‘style setter’. They all thought everyone deserves to be famous.”
Sofia Coppola talks about The Bling Ring
To be fair to Coppola, her upbringing among stars seems – rather than turning her head – to have permitted a sensible perspective on such matters. She, more than anybody, knows the difference between real celebrities and the less weighty class.
“Well, I have been to Oscar parties and those luxury parties,” she admits. ‘Yes, it’s fun to see those people. I met Al Pacino and other people who worked with my dad. But that’s different. He’s not a caricature.”
Still, it’s been a funny old life. An early public glimpse of Sofia could be spotted as far back as 1971 when she played a baby in The Godfather. She can also be observed in Francis’s The Outsider and Peggy Sue Got Married. But her most famous (we can probably say notorious) performance remains that as Mary Corleone in The Godfather Part III. When the picture emerged in 1990, Sofia (a late replacement for Winona Ryder) received genuinely savage reviews. She has barely appeared on screen since.
“It’s funny for me to see The Godfather. It’s like having home movies. But the third one I can’t watch,” she says.
The reviews must have been hard to bear for a young person.
“It was harsh. I was 18 and got so slammed,” she says. “That was a little hard. But it wasn’t too bad because it wasn’t really my dream to be an actress. But it was a different time. Back then, the magazines came out and then, three weeks later, they were gone. They didn’t hang around on the internet.”
For the succeeding decade or so, Sofia pursued an interest in fashion, worked on TV with pal Zoe Cassavetes and did the odd bit of modelling. As she tells it, her short movie Lick the Star, released in 1998, was really a sort of experiment. But she learned quite a bit when making it. Then she happened upon Jeffrey Eugenides’s novel The Virgin Suicides. For all her quiet passivity, she clearly has a very determined personality. Sofia was not going to let anybody else muck up the adaptation.