From a shy teen home-schooled by his mother to a lead actor in Sofia Coppola's 2013 outing "The Bling Ring," the story of Israel Broussard and his unlikely but successful acting career could headline...
Sofia Coppola's latest film, The Bling Ring, brings the true story of a gang of young, celebrity-obsessed thieves, as chronicled in Nancy Jo Sales' 2010 Vanity Fair article "The Suspects Wore Louboutins," to the big screen. In the movie, we watch as Rebecca (Katie Chang) leads a group of friends in a series of celebrity home invasions, burglarizing the likes of Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Rachel Bilson, and Orlando Bloom (among others).
The group's forays are motivated by a misplaced feeling of entitlement and a profound hunger for fame, making the entire story — and now Coppola's not-quite-fictionalized portrayal of events — somewhat prophetic. Before the final credits roll, both real and imagined Bling Rings achieve the very fame they so coveted.
While visions of Emma Watson (who plays teenaged thief Nicki), with her perfectly painted face and shiny brunette extensions, may dominate trailer time and promotional materials, it is in fact a boy — Marc, played by Israel Broussard — at the center of all the Bling Ring's drama. We see the formation of the crew and its exploits through the soft, doe-brown eyes of Marc, a self-conscious outsider who believes Rebecca to be, as he says (and the real Bling Ring "rat" Nick Prugo states in Sales' article), "the first person I felt was, like, my best friend." Portrayed by relative newcomer Broussard, Marc is a sympathetic — if misguided — lens to the inner-workings of the Bling Ring.
From Marc's vantage point, we watch Rebecca, Nicki, Sam (Taissa Farmiga), and Chloe (Claire Julien), "go shopping" in celebrity home after celebrity home. We watch as they try on Hervé Leger dresses and too-big Jimmy Choos. As they brandish about Brian Austin Green's pistol. As they snort cocaine off of compact mirrors while they blast Rick Ross from their car speakers. As they go clubbing… and clubbing again… and again. As they drink iced lattes. For Marc and the ladies, this is the life. But from an outsider's point of view, it's monotonous. And as a film, it's an aimless spiral of designers and drugs that borders on boring in its redundancy.
But The Bling Ring is not without its high points. It is speckled with scene-stealing performances, among them Broussard, Watson, and Leslie Mann as Nicki's Juicy sweatsuit-wearing, The Secret-loving mother; Julien is charming and hilarious as the degenerate Chloe. In the film's third act, however, Watson decides to up the ante and hijack the entire movie.
Marc is left in the shadows while Nicki, with her inadvertently hilarious prosthelytizing, steals the spotlight. While I have to believe that this happens in large part because Nicki's real life model, Alexis Neiers, captured the public's attention in 2010 with her reality show Pretty Wild (and that notorious "disappointed" phone call to Sales), it's jarring to suddenly leave Marc's narrative behind and follow Nicki through to the film's end.
But with Marc suddenly gone from the picture, the viewers have lost their anchor and the film suffers for it. He was the little substance we had to cling to in this nauseating roller-coaster ride of entitlement and excess. Without him, we can't help but feel a bit abandoned. Marc's disappearance personifies another major fault with the film, which is that Coppola fails to see things through — not on a plot-level, but thematically. She introduces her viewers to the world of celebrity obsession, but we are never really entranced by it. Repulsed rather than compelled by the characters, the audience is unable to relate to the Bling Ring members and therefore fails to see its own celebrity infatuation reflected in the characters' deeds. While this film had the opportunity to enlighten viewers to our own grotesque obsession with fame, we are instead left only denegrating the film's antiheros for theirs.
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The Lost In Translation filmmaker's new project is based on the true story of a group of youths who stole from the Hollywood homes of stars including Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Orlando Bloom and Audrina Patridge in 2008 and 2009.
Harry Potter star Emma Watson has already signed on as one of the gang's key members, and now Coppola has added actor Israel Broussard to the film to play the part of Nicholas Prugo, who confessed to stealing designer clothing, jewellery and cash from the stars' homes.
Broussard has previously appeared on coming-of-age drama Flipped and U.S. TV comedy Romantically Challenged.
Knocked Up actress Leslie Mann and American Horror Story star Taissa Farmiga, the younger sister of Up In The Air's Vera, have also joined the cast, alongside acting newcomers Claire Pfister, Katie Chang and Georgia Rock, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Prugo struck a plea deal with prosecutors last week (02Mar12) and will serve two years behind bars after pleading no contest to breaking into Lohan and Patridge's properties. In exchange, he must testify against three other people suspected of helping him steal from the stars.
First role in a TV show on "Romantically Challenged"
First feature film role in "Flipped"
Appeared in Sofia Coppola's "The Bling Ring"
Cast alongside WWE wrestler Triple H in "The Chaperone"
From a shy teen home-schooled by his mother to a lead actor in Sofia Coppola's 2013 outing "The Bling Ring," the story of Israel Broussard and his unlikely but successful acting career could headline a movie of its own. A small role in a local Biloxi, Mississippi production of "The Miracle Worker" in 2006 left Broussard with a case of the acting bug, and a year later his mother moved Israel and two of his siblings out to Los Angeles. A minor role in the Alyssa Milano sitcom "Romantically Challenged" (ABC, 2010) followed, while a family friend helped him land the role of a big-mouthed best friend in "Flipped" (2010). After a supporting part in family-friendly fare like "The Chaperone" (2011), Broussard entered the big leagues with a major role in the based-on-a-true-story film "The Bling Ring" as Marc, the doubting heart of a group of fame-obsessed, criminally-minded teens. A thoughtful performer with an eye for what makes people tick, Broussard was on the cusp of something big. <p>Broussard grew up in a small town outside Gulfport, MS, as the quiet sibling who never seemed to fit in with his surroundings. His mother put him in home-school after Hurricane Katrina roared through, and he fell into acting when an older sister expressed interest. After appearing in a local production of "The Miracle Worker," the introverted teen and his sister attended a scouting event in L.A., which resulted in some serious sibling rivalry when Israel was singled out for his perceptive talent. He made his TV debut in 2010 with a background role on the short-lived ABC sitcom "Romantically Challenged," and landed a supporting role as a childhood best friend in "Flipped," based on the book by the young adult author, Wendelin Van Draanen. Next up was "The Chaperone," where he portrayed a student on a school outing that becomes the target of their chaperone's bank-robbing buddies. In 2013 Coppola, impressed by Broussard's naturalistic talent, cast him in 'The Bling Ring" as Marc, an L.A. transplant who becomes increasingly uncomfortable with his newfound friends' habit of breaking into celebrity homes. </p><p> </p>
A native of Mississippi, Broussard was homeschooled in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
"Acting – I'm good at it, but it's not my passion. Music, I'm not as good at, but that's my passion." - from Teen Vogue, July 2013
Had no plans to become an actor until he appeared in a local Biloxi production of "The Miracle Worker."
Briefly played guitar in band called Surrender the Philosophy.
Drew on his own shyness and insecurity growing up to develop his character in "The Bling Ring."
Moved to L.A. when he was 13 with his mother and siblings.
"I lived in a small town outside of Gulfport, Saucier. I mean, the people there are lovely, you ride bikes, but it just wasn’t for me. So when I moved out to L.A., I felt relief and I felt that a weight was lifted off of my shoulders. I could just really focus and—this is going to sound conceited—I could really focus on me and not really have the time for what everybody else thinks." -- from Complex, Jun. 19, 2013