Sofia Coppola’s new movie The Bling Ring is about a group of teenagers who rob some of the Hollywood elite and get off on celebrity culture is based on a real story. Is it an accurate portrayal of what really happened?
The inspiration for the film is pretty meta. It’s inspired by news reports, interviews with Alexis Neiers, a Vanity Fair article by Nancy Jo sales, and Alexis’ one season E! reality show Pretty Wild that also featured her mom Alexis Arlington and her adopted sister Tess Taylor. Alexis’ reaction to the Vanity Fair article was documented during the reality show, and the clip turned into a viral video. The details Alexis seems most upset about are that Nancy Jo said she wore six-inch heels to court when she actually wore brown kitten heels, and that she referred to her as a girl instead of a “young woman.”
In a Vice article Alexis accused Nancy Jo Sales of being fame hungry, and using Alexis to help get that fame. “The only reason Nancy Jo is at all relevant—at all—is because I had a f@*king meltdown on my television show,” Alexis said. “She claims that we’re fame-obsessed teens. No, shame on you, Nancy! You have taken the pain you have caused me and you ran with it. Everything that they claim we are, they are. Everybody wants to be famous.” Nancy Jo Sales has gone on to write a book called The Bling Ring: How a Gang of Fame-Obsessed Teens Ripped Off Hollywood and Shocked the World about the group. At first, Alexis Neiers was supportive of the film, and said she trusted Sofia Coppola, but after seeing the trailer she has changed her mind and said she won’t be watching it. “The truth will come out soon enough,” she says of the movie.
Alexis herself was on the fringe of the actual “Bling Ring” gang, but her story ended up being the most prominent in the media. She was actually slated to do the reality show before it was known that she was connected with the burglaries Soon after the last episode of the show aired and Alexis spent a little time for her Bling Ring crime in a jail cell next to Lindsay Lohan, one of the celebrities the gang ripped off, she was arrested for possessing black tar heroin and spend some time in rehab. Now, three years later she’s clean, married, and has a new baby.
Alexis has maintained throughout all of this that she wasn’t even involved in most of the robberies and that she was blackout drunk for the one she was present at that involved Orlando Bloom’s house, and therefore didn’t know what was going on. She said she ended up throwing up in his bushes while the rest of them entered his house. In the movie she’s played by the most famous actress in the group, Emma Watson, so it further solidifies the myth that she was a prominent figure in the group. Emma has stuck up for Alexis, noting that the character she plays in the movie isn’t so much based on her as her reality show persona:
“To be fair to Alexis, [my character] is like three steps removed from who she might be in real life. A lot of the material in the movie was based on an article, which was based on a reality show, which we all know isn’t real life. I wasn’t trying to impersonate her—she just inspired the character. I watched Pretty Wild so many times to try and get her into my brain, though. It gave me anxiety. How do you watch it?”
So, who are the other Bling Ringers, who did they rob, and how much stuff did they take?
Because of the varying evidence linking each person to the crimes, their sentences were wildly differently. Rachel Lee received the longest sentence, four years, for robbing Audrina Patridge’s house, but all of the Bling Ringerss are currently out of jail right now.
Altogether the crew took over $3 million worth of jewelry, clothes, Rolexes, shoes, perfume, makeup, art and cash from the homes of Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan; Orlando Bloom and Miranda Kerr, Brian Austin Green and Megan Fox, Rachel Bilson, and Audrina Patridge. $2 million of the stuff came just from Paris Hilton’s house, who didn’t even realize it was missing until a few months later. Audrina actually posted security footage of the burglary on her blog the day after it happened. Members of the group were also implicated because they took photos of themselves with the stolen merchandise and posted it on social media.