Discovery: Israel Broussard

Published June 13, 2013

ABOVE: ISRAEL BROUSSARD. PHOTO COURTESY OF ANGELO KRITIKOS

While it might be too early to call The Bling Ring a breakout performance for actor Israel Broussard, it has all the trappings of a success. Broussard plays Marc, the lone male member of the Bling Ring, and the only person who seems the least bit perturbed about breaking into the homes of some of the most famous members of the Hollywood elite. The film is classic Sofia Coppola—although this time it doesn’t examine acting royalty, but rather its aspirants: a group of high school students desperate for any taste of fame. The movie withholds judgment on its characters, inviting the audience to reach their own conclusion, and presents them in a manner that’s both sympathetic and unforgiving. Marc is the voice of reason, the one telling the girls he robs with when it’s time to get out of, say, Paris Hilton’s mansion. He is also the one who wears pink Louboutin stilettos while lounging around his room. We talked with Broussard about his character, working with Sofia Coppolla, and, yes, those heels.

AGE:  18

HOMETOWN: Saucier, Mississippi

THE GOOD ONE: [My character] is insecure, didn’t have a lot of self-confidence. I related to that. Back when I was in elementary school, I didn’t have many friends. When it came to being uncomfortable about being in somebody’s house, I played that as something I had experienced growing up. My sisters, when they would be up to something, I would be like, “You guys, Dad’s gonna get mad.” And they would [say], “No, he’s not, whatever.” And of course he would get mad, and I would kind of gleam because I knew I was right, but at the same time I felt bad they were getting in trouble. That was how I played Marc.

THE UNLUCKY ONE: Emma [Watson, who plays Nicki] had bad luck during the whole shoot. The first day of preproduction, she lost a wallet. A bunch of paparazzi were chasing after her, and she dropped it while she was getting in the car. Then, we were in the club scene and she fell [while dancing on a pole], so that was painful for her. Then, that scene where Claire [Julien, who plays Chloe] was like, “Oh, a love letter,” and then threw it behind her—right when she threw it behind her, Emma turned around and the card nailed her in the eye. Emma had a couple of accidents on the set. There was a lot of energy on the set; it was a lot of fun. There weren’t too many problems other than injury or loss of blood for Emma. It was the perfect film crew.

FACT OR FICTION: I—myself and the rest of the cast—I don’t think we came into contact with [the real Bling Ring members]. Nor were we looking to. I wouldn’t necessarily be opposed, but it would be a little awkward. I played my character for Sofia, and what she wanted for her vision. I trusted her. What people need to understand is: it’s based on a true story, but we don’t know the events that happened. It’s a fictional tale of that true story—from a point of view.

IN THE METHOD: We did a fake break-in, pre-production week, when all of us got together and broke into a house to look for things to steal. They knew we were there, but we were trying to be sneaky and whatnot, getting in there. [laughs] We realized, “Oh, this is actually kind of fun,” and started goofing around. That’s when we found the momentum of what these kids were actually doing. They were living in the moment, they were going off adrenaline. They weren’t thinking of it as robbing; it was more like, “Going to hang out in Paris’.” Be Paris for a night and step into those shoes. These kids weren’t masterminds. They weren’t out to hurt anybody; they were just trying to have fun.

LEARNING THE LABELS: All the girls got together—they pretty much just taught me how to read magazines and taught me what to look for. Stacy, in the wardrobe department, helped me out a lot. My fittings took a little longer than usual, because were kind of like, “Ok, this is this brand. This is Balenciaga. You’re wearing Marc Jacobs right now.” Just trying to get me into the whole fashion world. I had to wade around a little bit, but I eventually got there. I only fell in the [Christian Louboutin] heels once, that was when I first put them on, when I was walking on carpet. On a shaggy carpet. I was shockingly good at walking in heels. Katie [Chang, who plays Rebecca] and I used to have competitions to see who could walk better in them. I think Katie wins; Katie would think I won. I only did it for a couple scenes; Katie was wearing heels throughout the entire shoot.

MOST UNCOMFORTABLE SCENE: When I’m dancing in front of the webcam. A lot of people liked it. I guess it was my least favorite doing it, but I’ve gotten a lot of compliments. I don’t know whether people are just saying that to be nice, because that’s an intense scene.

JUSTICE AND JUDGMENT: I don’t sympathize [with the real Bling Ring]. I don’t hate them or anything like that. I understand what they were doing. They got excited, they were living in the moment, and they didn’t get caught when they were doing it. The fact that they did it—that’s just life. They did take it to the extreme, but everybody takes everything to the extreme. They just got caught up in it, and they messed up. I think they were just trying to get a big name and stepped over too many boundaries. Hopefully they realize that.

THE BLING RING COMES OUT IN NEW YORK AND L.A. TOMORROW, JUNE 14.