Coppola says she casts less for looks than for simpatico. “I feel like there has to be a connection, you have to find the same things funny. That way, you’re on the same channel and you’ll be able to communicate more effectively.”
On The Bling Ring, she says, “I worked with a lot of first‑timers. They’re so enthusiastic…and they don’t have bad habits.” The performances by newcomers Israel Broussard and Katie Chang mesh seamlessly with that of Emma Watson, the Harry Potter alum who spent months perfecting Valley Girl dialect for the role. “She worked really hard,” Coppola says, “like the good student she is.”
Coppola, too, worked hard at being a good teacher, guiding her cast away from acting and toward natural behavior. The rehearsal period is key for her. “I get ideas for dialogue and the actors form relationships so they’re comfortable together. By the time we’re shooting you might believe they’re people who really know each other. On The Bling Ring, the kids hung out and did stuff together; they formed a group and had inside jokes.”
Before shooting The Bling Ring, she sent her young actors on recon missions to shopping malls and clubs. “That way, during the club scenes when they are partying, they’re really partying,” she says.