Alexis Neiers: Sofia Coppola’s ‘Bling Ring’ Is a ‘Lazy’ Depiction of True Crimes

The real-life ringleader of the Bling Ring didn’t see much shine in Sofia Coppola’s true crime narrative adaptation “The Bling Ring.”

Alexis Haines, née Neiers, slammed Coppola’s 2013 film starring Emma Watson as Nikki, a character loosely based on herself. “That’s the thing that’s so frustrating when you have someone that’s as brilliant as Sofia Coppola and as wonderful an actor as Emma Watson working on a movie together,” Haines told Entertainment Weekly. “You have this opportunity to do something really great and to dig deeper and to look at the complexities, but it’s just lazy.”

Haines shares her story in the upcoming Netflix true crime docuseries “The Real Bling Ring: Hollywood Heist.” Not a stranger to TV, Haines previously starred in E!’s “Pretty Wild” reality series alongside her mother Andrea Arlington and sisters Gabrielle Neiers and Tess Taylor. All four of them also appear in the Netflix docuseries. And no, Haines has not watched Coppola’s film almost a decade after its release.

“I’m a busy mom of two kids,” Haines said. “If I’m going to sit down for two hours, it’s not going be to watch ‘The Bling Ring.’ When I was filming this documentary, they had me watch bits and pieces of the movie and asked me my opinion on it.”

Haines and her friends broke into a slew of properties belonging to high-profile figures from 2008 to 2009. Yet Haines maintains she only broke into one home, whereas Watson’s composite character Nikki leads multiple break-ins. The “ring” in total stole approximately $3 million worth of clothes and personal items from the homes of Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Orlando Bloom, Megan Fox, Rachel Bilson, and “The Hills” star Audrina Patridge, who additionally appears in the new Netflix series.

“I think the docuseries is so great because in the media reporting up until very recently there wasn’t really a space for the nuance and the complexity of what happened in the crime,” Haines applauded the Netflix documentary. “The story became sensationalized and there wasn’t space to talk about addiction and mental health. We still have a long way to go, but we’re so much farther than we were in 2010.”

Haines called Coppola’s film “trashy and inaccurate” at the time of its release. Years later, Haines revealed she struggled with addiction to OxyContin and heroin as a teenager.

“My involvement with the Bling Ring was ultimately the thing that helped me get sober,” Haines said. “I’m sorry that it had to happen at the expense of someone else or lots of other people, my family, obviously the victims [of the crimes]. But I’m so grateful.”

Netflix’s “The Real Bling Ring: Hollywood Heist” producer and director Miles Blayden-Ryall told EW, “The impression I got from the existing media from the time of the crimes was that they had been committed by ‘spoiled, bored and celebrity-obsessed teens’, however this narrative felt far too reductive and lacking any nuance. This story was much more complex than the press around the crimes would lead you to believe.”

In 2013, “The Bling Ring” director Coppola said real-life crimes had the “elements for a fun pop movie” with a “deeper layer” looking at modern celebrity culture. Coppola met with Haines while preparing for the film, and admitted her “side of the story is very different” in an interview with The Guardian.

“I met with her but her version is that she was less involved,” Coppola said. “The kids’ take was interesting to me though. When they were doing press and finally getting this celebrity status they had craved, they were a little bit delusional about why it was happening. Alexis wouldn’t talk about the robbery: she seemed to think they were interviewing her because of her style or something. So I thought their perspective on it provided this whole other element which showed how wrapped up they were in celebrity. That part of our culture used to be small — that pop, ‘guilty pleasure’ side of things. Now it just won’t stop growing.”

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