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Claire Julien on The Bling Ring, Gavin Rossdale, and Rapping in Cars

If your Bling Ring knowledge comes primarily from the article or the miraculous reality series Pretty Wild, then you won’t know too much about the lesser accomplices in the celebrity-robbing scheme. This is great news for Claire Julien, who plays one such teen robber in Sofia Coppola’s new film; it means that she got to create Chloe, her character, more or less from scratch. The result is a hilarious, Rick Ross–loving Valley Girl who steals almost every scene she is in (including one where she has to make out with a skeezy Gavin Rossdale). Vulture spoke with Julien about her first major role.

This is your first big role. What was on your audition tape?
Let me think. I had two scenes: In one, I was my character Chloe, and it was like
[party voice], "Yo sluts," like her scene in the club. Then I had to play Sam [Taissa Farmiga’s character] in the scene with them in their bedroom, when Nikki [Emma Watson]’s trying on clothes for court.

So you weren’t auditioning specifically for Chloe?
I’m not sure. I think they just auditioned me and just placed me wherever I fit.

I wanted to ask you about the “9 Piece” scene, when you’re rapping in the car. Did you pick that song?
The scene was in the script, but it just said “Chloe’s rapping.” When I got on set, Sofia was like, “We’re doing this song” and handed me the lyrics. She was like, “Don’t stress on the lyrics but just learn them.” I love rap music, so that wasn’t hard for me. And that was a lot of fun to film, 'cause we had this whole convoy going — the whole backseat besides Israel [Broussard] was cameras squished into crevices, and then we had a cop in front of us, and then a van behind us with Sofia in it, and then a cop behind that, so we had this whole cool convoy going down PCH.

How long does it take to practice that?
Um, I’d say a couple hours at least.

You’re originally from from L.A., right? Were any of the other cast members?
Yeah, I’m the only one of those five who’s actually from L.A.

Did that make you the L.A. spirit guide?
I kinda tried to help the others with different words — like slang words that they might be able to say or use. And also just intonation and the accent, which I didn’t even know was an accent. [
Laughs.]

Was any of this — not the breaking into celebrity homes part, but the atmosphere and the teen culture — was it familiar to you?
Yeah, kind of. The celebrity obsession wasn’t so normal to me. I always saw that as just weird, and I don’t agree with it necessarily and I don’t involve myself in it. But I’ve known a lot of kids to do what the Bling Ring did, to party and go crazy and have fun, and want to be a part of a different world, want to be a part of fashion … a totally other level.

Did you know about the real-life kids or the story before the movie?
No, I actually didn’t. I didn’t know even about the story until I got the part, and Sofia told me to look at the article and watch
Pretty Wild.

So you did watch Pretty Wild?
Yeah, I did, I watched it three times. It’s pretty addicting. But my character wasn’t in it.

How did you go about creating Chloe then? Did you have any conversations with Sofia?
She gave me a few directions. But I kinda had it down, just 'cause I’ve known so many Chloes before. It was just easy for me to become that and take that on myself. I feel like almost everyone has a bit of a Chloe phase, a bit of a rebellious teenager kinda thing, so ...

You just went into party mode?
I did go into party mode. Basically I let all my inhibitions go; I forgot about all of Claire’s values, Claire’s reservations about things, and just had fun as Chloe, just did what Chloe did and didn’t live by anyone’s rules.

Did you ever go too far as Chloe? Were they like “rein it in” ever?
Yeah. A couple times they would be like, “Claire, you’re too loud, you need to quiet down. You’re overpowering everyone, just quiet down a little bit.” But there was one time in Orlando Bloom and Miranda Kerr’s fake house — there was this love letter that I had to read from Orlando Bloom to Miranda Kerr. I was making fun of it, and I read it out in a sappy voice, and then I tossed it in the air a bit too strongly, and it landed in Emma’s eye. We spent like a half an hour with eye drops and like an ice pack on her eye, and I was crying so hard. That’s the funny thing — she wasn’t even crying. I was crying 'cause I felt so bad!

But she’s okay! It worked out.
Yeah, she’s fine.

Have you heard anything from any of the real people?
I read some of Alexis Neiers’s tweets.

She’s really been out there, huh?
Yeah, she’s pretty pissed.

Yeah. Although I guess maybe she has a right to be?
I completely understand it. She could easily think we’re making fun of her or her friends or what she was involved in or her family. But whoever she was back then, we portrayed that in an artistic way; we used that as inspiration, and used their actions as inspiration to kind of formulate our own characters. So the names are different; we look completely different than all the regular people. It shouldn’t be taken as a personal attack, that’s for sure.

Tell me about filming with Gavin Rossdale. [Julien’s character Chloe gets little hot and heavy with Rossdale’s club owner.]
Uh, it was a little weird. It was kind of awkward. I didn’t exactly know who he was until afterwards. I Googled him after and was like, "Oh myGod, no way." I must have been like 8 years old or 9 years old when I used to sing “Hollaback Girl” jumping up and down on my bed, so that was a trip. He was really nice.

Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty