'Bling Ring' star Katie Chang chats the Blackhawks, Kardashians, and breaking into Elton John's house
We were pretty stoked when we heard Sofia Coppola was directing "The Bling Ring," a flick based on the series of Hollywood Hills burglaries in 2009, when a group of excess-loving teenagers ravaged the homes and closets of Paris Hilton, Rachel Bilson, and Megan Fox. (And that's the short list.) And when Emma Watson was cast -- we were even more stoked.
Hermonie Granger and her rag tag group of L.A. club rat friends raiding the home of Audrina Patridge? Yes, please
The trailer focused on Watson applying lip gloss, getting down at the club, and chain smoking cigarettes as aspiring model/short-lived reality star, Alexis Neiers. Our level of being stoked was sustained.
But when we saw the film -- which was beautiful, as anticipated -- we were confused.
Katie Chang, a Chicago-bred newcomer, is the clear star of the flick as Bling Ring leader Rebecca Ahn, who orchestrated the heists with buddy Marc, (Israel Broussard). Emma Watson was definitely there -- lifting Balmain, grinding a stripper pole in Paris Hilton's club room, abusing her Valley Girl drawl -- but Chang shines bright.
The 18-year-old was in town for a screening at the Somerville Theatre Wednesday night, and we snagged some time with her before she wrapped her press tour for "Bling" at the Hub's Eliot Hotel.
I saw your recent tweet, so you’re a big hockey fan?
I grew up in a hockey family and my dad is from Minnesota and my brothers play hockey. We’re die-hard hockey fans and I’m definitely rooting for the Hawks. I stayed up way too late last night watching it.
You’ve been in Boston since yesterday for the screening -- did you get to do anything touristy while you’ve been here?
I’ve been here before. I did a pre-college program at Brown the summer before my junior year of high school and it’s only a 45 minute cheap train ride to Boston. My friends and I used to come into Boston and walk up and down Newbury and go to the Market. I wanted to take that historical tour and they bring you to all the cool monuments but none of my friends wanted to go with me. Maybe next time I come back
You’ve had amazing fashion moments with the film’s press tour.
To be honest, I don’t really understand fashion. I know more now because I did a lot of research for my character [Rebecca] who is obsessed with fashion but right now I’m just wearing a UCLA T-shirt, jeans, and some Keds. I like to dress nicely and I usually do, but my stylist, Orlee Winer has been amazing and pulls great stuff. She creates those relationships with designers. I have to give all my credit to her.
Did you have any favorite outfits?
I wore one dress during a big press day in Cannes, this champagne and black stripe Jill Stuart that was really comfy.
Do you think the clothes you’ve been wearing have been reflective of your own style?
I think if you go back and look at all the things I’ve worn, they all have the same conservative high neckline. [Laughs] I’m not comfortable with being too showy and owning it yet.
Has it been difficult to be on the red carpet and doing press tours with huge fashion icons like Sofia Coppola and Emma Watson?
I’ve actually been on tour now with Israel [Broussard], who plays fellow Bling Ring leader, Marc and they’ve been doing their own. For us, it’s more of just trying to get through the day, so we don’t care what we’re wearing.
But did you pick up any fashion tips from being around them?
Sophia has such a timeless style. I definitely look up to her. She’s so flawless and chic and doesn’t care what people think.
Since fashion and excess aren’t really your own personal obsessions, but they're definitely your characters – what did you study up on to prepare?
I read a lot of fashion magazines and familiarized myself with the designers and their shows from that time period. I also watched a lot of reality TV like “The Hills” and “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.” Sofia also had me work with an acting coach to help find that domineering mean side of me.
Do you think you found it?
I hope so! [Laughs]
You’re sharing such a fashionable movie with some very big names, how has that been for you as a newcomer?
It’s really exciting because nobody in this film has a big head. Everyone is really supportive of the other. It’s more than I could ever ask for.
I thought one of the more interesting parts of the film was your character’s wardrobe in comparison to the other girls. She tends to dress more conservatively, very prim and feminine with lots of pleats, while the other girls are more your typical L.A. party girls.
Stacey Battat, our costume designer, had a very firm grasp on each of the character’s look and would sometimes put me in different plunging necklines but then we’d add a blazer to class it up. The thing with Rebecca is she’s not worried about being sexy or attractive. She wants to be classy and fashionable and wants people to want to look like her.
Some of Rebecca’s fashion icons turned out to also be her victims; did you study any of their personal style as well?
I did but specifically from that time period, like 2008 and 2009. I looked a lot into Lindsay Lohan and Miranda Kerr, but also just, in general, what other people were wearing.
A lot of that comes from the scene in LA, too. Had you spent any time out there before you filmed the movie?
I had been out to LA when I was little girl for a wedding and then again when I was 14 for summer or spring break but I hadn’t spent much time there. For the movie, I had been there for two months and got a good taste of the city.
Were there any wardrobe pieces from the film that you wish you could have kept?
I’m a big cardigan person. [Laughs] There was a really, really cool Calvin Klein black cardigan with black leather on the side that I loved. It was really rocker.
I’m sure you get this a lot, but if you tapped into that evil side of yourself, who would you rob?
I don’t think I really would want to rob him but I've always wanted to see what the inside of Elton John’s house looks like.
Did you get to meet your character’s real life counterpart?
It wasn't off limits but there was never discussion about it. We also never had any strong desire to because we were playing them in a film they might not be terribly excited about.
And you're off to Columbia [University] in the fall. Emma Watson is a Brown girl. Was there an Ivy League rivalry on set?
Oh, no. I was a junior when we were filming so I wasn't really sure where I was going to apply at that point.
Do you know what you'll be majoring in?
Something within the English department, maybe creative writing.
Does that mean you'll be taking a hiatus from acting?
The great thing about college nowadays is that you don’t need to do it all in four years. You can do it in five or six. My parents and I aren't under the impression that I need to complete in four years, and I’m OK with that. With summer and school breaks, you can always fit projects in and if something special comes along, there’s always an open dialogue about deferring a semester.
"The Bling Ring" opens in theaters nationwide June 21.
[Image credits, from top: Kayana Szymczak for the Boston Globe; AP Photo/A24 Films, Merrick Morton; Francois Mori/AP Photo]