In “The Bling Ring,” Chicago-based actress Katie Chang plays Rebecca, a teenager in Hollywood who begins a crime spree with friends by breaking into the houses of well-known celebrities including Paris Hilton, Orlando Bloom, and Lindsay Lohan. The film is based on the real-life crimes committed by high school student Rachel Lee and friends she enlisted to steal what would amount to over $3 million in cash and valuables over the course of 10 months. During an interview with EXTRA, Chang, who graduated from New Trier Township High School in Winnetka, talked about her character and what she thinks about the attention given to celebrities today.
EXTRA: What attracted you to this character and how much research on Rachel did you do for the role?
Katie Chang: I really became interested in playing a character that was so two-faced and selfish yet seemed really friendly at the beginning. I was interested in that progression. I started researching fashion and started watching reality television. I imagined that’s what Rachel did.
What about the more psychological aspects of her personality?
I think I first wanted to realize that at the end of the day, even though she did all these terrible things, she was still a typical teenager. Once I realized that she probably went through what all teens go through like self-consciousness and lack of self-worth, then I was able to bring that to the character. It’s really easy to play a mean mastermind, but she is more complicated than that.
How do you feel about how much emphasis is put on celebrity culture today? Should people like Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian get so much attention?
I think people like Paris have done a really great job of building an industry around themselves, so for that I give them credit. But I think there should be more emphasis on celebrities out there actually changing the world instead of those who are on reality television shows.
As someone who is very new to this industry, would you someday like to have that kind of fame?
Probably not. One of the great things about this movie is that I got to work with Emma [Watson]. She has this mania surrounding her wherever she goes. I was able to see all of that from behind the scenes. It’s great so many people love her, but I don’t think I would want that every day.