Tomorrow marks the long-awaited debut of Sofia Coppola's "The Bling Ring"—which, as we all know, is inspired by the very weird, super-sensational drama of the real-life teenage thieves known as the Hollywood Hills Burglar Bunch. And if you're not up to speed on the true story behind the film (or the real, actual girl who uttered Emma Watson's iconic line: "I want to rob!"), then fret not, young grasshopper, because we've got your pre-viewing study guide to Everything Essential About the Real-Life Bling Ring. Read on!
Nearly all the Bling Ring members came from well-to-do families and were already familiar faces on the L.A. celebrity party circuit. Although the eventual police roundup included seven suspects, the ring's major players numbered five:
-Rachel Lee, the alleged ringleader who first came up with the plan to rob celebrity homes
-Nick Prugo, Rachel's best friend, Bling Ring lookout and the eventual star witness for the prosecution of his friends
-Diana Tamayo, a fashionista and student body president whose ability to fit through dog doors made her a great asset to the gang
-Courtney Ames, whose arrest and prosecution for burglary didn't stop her from wearing one of Lindsay Lohan's stolen necklaces to court
-Alexis Neiers, the most famous member of the bunch, who happened to be starring on a reality TV show, "Pretty Wild," at the time of her arrest.
Mix one part celebrity obsession with one part envy, and add a splash of good old-fashioned greed. (Nick Prugo, the most talkative member of the gang, summed it up as a simple question of "women wanting women's stuff.") The Bling Ring targeted celebrities whose wardrobes they coveted—or, in the case of Orlando Bloom and Brian Austin Green, whose girlfriends had good taste in clothes.
The thieves got off to an auspicious start with their first-ever burglary of Paris Hilton's home (chosen because the heiress, per statements by Bling Ring members, seemed dumb enough to leave her door unlocked). Eventually, the group burglarized the homes of Audrina Patridge, Lindsay Lohan, Rachel Bilson, Orlando Bloom, Brian Austin Green, and...Paris Hilton. Again. (Reportedly, Paris was robbed upwards of five times before she noticed anything amiss.)
All told, the teenage thieves made off with more than $3 million worth of clothes, jewelry, cash and even some artwork (which Rachel Lee wanted in order to decorate her house). Also stolen: a gun registered to Brian Austin Green, and some, er, interesting personal photos from Paris Hilton's house safe.
Nearly all of the thieves pleaded no contest to the charges brought against them, and only Rachel Lee, who served one year and four months of a four-year sentence, got any significant jail time. (Nick Prugo was sentenced to two years but let off for time served and good behavior; Alexis Neiers served 30 days of a half-year sentence before being paroled.) Since the conclusion of the case, almost all of the Bling Ring members have disappeared from the public eye and won't discuss their past doings with the press. The only exception: Alexis, who went through more legal troubles and a stint in rehab before settling into a life of marriage, motherhood, sobriety and blogging.
"The Bling Ring" is based upon the Vanity Fair piece "The Suspects Wore Louboutins" by Nancy Jo Sales. The Daily Beast also has a thorough summary of grand jury testimony from Paris, Orlando, Audrina and others.
Are you fully informed and ready to enjoy the "Bling Ring" dramatization tomorrow?