Sofia Coppola’s latest film, The Bling Ring, premieres in the U.S. on June 21. Inspired by real-life events that took place in 2008-09, The Bling Ring tells the story of a group of teenagers obsessed with fashion and celebrity who burglarize celebrities’ homes in Los Angeles.
Although the film is a fictionalized account of the events, the main characters are based on actual participants. Star Emma Watson plays a character based somewhat on Alexis Neiers, who eventually pled no contest to felony residential burglary, and was sentenced to a jail term of 180 days, with an additional three years of probation, as well as being ordered to pay up to $600,000 in restitution to actor Orlando Bloom, one of the celebrities whose homes The Bling Ring targeted (the only break-in in which Neiers was implicated). She was released after serving 30 days.
At the time of Neiers’ arrest as a member of “The Bling Ring,” she had filmed the pilot for the 2010 E! reality series Pretty Wild, which was originally meant to follow the lives of her and her two fellow socialite sisters as they made their way into the Hollywood social scene. The show ended up partly chronicling Alexis’ trial, and was canceled after nine episodes.
It turns out Pretty Wild played a part in some of the actresses in The Bling Ring researching their roles. In a press kit for the film, newcomer Taissa Farmiga, who plays “Sam,” said, “Because Sam and Nicki [Emma Watson’s character] are based off the girls from Pretty Wild, Alexis Neiers and Tess Taylor, Sofia sent me the DVDs and I watched the whole season. Even though the characters are based off them, you’re still going to take some things from yourself and put it all together so you have the character.”
Emma Watson added, “It was important to me that a lot of the dialogue is actually things that Alexis Neiers said. But at the same time, she was being fed things when she was on a reality TV show, and a lot of people are aware now that reality TV isn’t really reality TV. … So yes it’s based on a real person but it was based on a person who was acting and reading lines herself. So it’s sort of like two levels of separation.”
If you blinked and missed Pretty Wild in its original run, you’ll have your chance to see some of its episodes on June 21 when E! tries to capitalize on interest in The Bling Ring movie with a Pretty Wild marathon. The episodes being shown have to do with Alexis’ arrest and trial.
The Pretty Wild marathon on E! airs June 21. All times ET/PT; descriptions from E!:
1pm: Pretty Wild: “The Arrest” — Emerging as Hollywood’s newest stars, sisters Tess, Alexis and Gabby are ready to take the City of Angels by storm. In the season premiere of Pretty Wild, sexy sisters Tess and Alexis land a huge modeling gig, but a knock on their door early one morning will change the life of one sister forever.
1:30pm: Pretty Wild: “The Hearing” — With her freedom on the line at a preliminary hearing, Alexis faces charges of allegedly committing a burglary targeting celebrity homes. Meanwhile, Tess is ecstatic when she is invited on a date with a pop superstar, and Gabby’s world is rocked when Andrea announces that the whole family is making a big move.
2pm: Pretty Wild: “Vanity Unfair” — Alexis gets the opportunity to finally tell her side of the story in an interview in Vanity Fair, but the article doesn’t quite turn out the way she expected. At Andrea’s suggestion, Gabby goes job hunting and Tess is determined to find out just where her relationship with rocker Max stands after he didn’t respond to any of her texts while in Cabo.
2:30pm: Pretty Wild: “And So It Is” — Alexis struggles with the stress of her impending trial and finding out that celebrity superstar Orlando Bloom will be testifying against her in court. She begins to unravel as she questions her decision to go to trial or take the plea deal. The rest of the family tries to cope, but the court case begins to affect Tess’ relationship with Max.