I recently got the chance to talk to Doug DeBeech about his role in ‘The Bling Ring’. Here, Doug talks about how he got involved in the project and what it was like working with the cast and crew on-set…
My pleasure, Matt.
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
The film is about a group of teenagers residing in Los Angeles who use social networking as a means to locate celebrities whereabouts. Once they are able to confirm said celebrity is no longer in the State they locate their address and break in to their home. The interesting part is that this is less of a heist story and more of a thirst for fame story – and the need to burst through any obstacles to achieve it.
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
My character’s name is “Adam”. I play Emma Watson’s attorney in the film.
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
I received a call from my management team telling me I had an audition for the new Sofia Coppola film. There was very little information about the project available at that time so we really didn’t know what we were going in for. The next day I was told I had a call-back with Sofia Coppola. I vividly remember entering that small room that day. The amazing casting directors from Bright/Daniels casting were there along with Executive Producer Fred Roos and Ms. Coppola herself. Several actors were called back for this small featured role so I knew I had to take a leap in order to stand out from the pack. That being said, I delivered the lines provided to me and then jumped off script for improvisation. When I finished the audition Ms. Coppola leaned in and said “I really liked your dialogue”. I patted my heart, thanked her and went to my car and cried. There was such a sense of vulnerability in that room for me. I really let myself go – which is not an easy task knowing so little about the role. Hours later my manager, Eric, called me and told me we got the job. To say I was a fan of Sofia Coppola’s work is an understatement – having the chance to work under her direction is something I will cherish for a lifetime.
How would you say this film is different and unique?
Here’s the thing about this movie that I am so taken by – Ms. Coppola’s approach. The story appears, on the on-set, to almost glorify what these kids are doing. However, as the film unravels you begin to realize that Ms. Coppola chooses not to voice her opinion of whether she condemns or condones these actions. Instead she uses the camera to geniusly haunt the audience in shots where she lets action linger for so long it creates an air of discomfort for the viewer. This is very clever film making. Perhaps her opinion lies in the shots she uses? That’s up to the viewers interpretation. Either way, I found this film more haunting than anything else. And I loved every second of that.
The film stars Katie Chang, Israel Broussard, Emma Watson, Claire Julien, Taissa Farmiga, Georgia Rock, Leslie Mann, Carlos Miranda, Gavin Rossdale and Stacy Edwards – with Sofia Coppola onboard as director – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set? Any good anecdotes?
They were all so amazing. When I’m hired on new projects I often approach the work as an extension of my acting education. To watch this level of talent in action was breathtaking. I learned so much. Leslie Mann, in her silence, can have you on the floor laughing. She’s a force. So talented. Emma Watson is as brilliant in real life as she is on-screen. She’s a charming young lady who is fascinating to watch work. Sofia Coppola is so embracing to the actor. She creates such a warm easy-going atmosphere to work in its amazing. Such an honour to be a part of.
Let’s talk a bit about you Doug. What made you want to get into the acting industry in the first place?
I always knew I wanted to participate in some form of the entertainment industry at an early age. Growing up in the NYC area, with the support of my parents, I was able to go after it fairly young. Unfortunately I developed a series of phobias that stifled me on many levels. I dedicated much of my time conquering these phobias which gave me tremendous insight into the human psyche. I’ve always had a huge thirst for psychology on whole (particularly after I became a student of it) which, in turn, lent itself as a brilliant way to approach character development. By the time I entered high school I was certain that entertainment was the direction I was heading in.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to pursue a career in the industry?
Tenacity and a strong self-worth. You must be tenacious in this business and you must have great faith in who you are. This is a business built on rejection. That can be paralysing to the human psyche. I think it’s so important to have a firm understanding of who you are as you approach this business and to stay true to that person always. This industry on whole is far from glamorous. It’s frightening, exhilarating, exhausting and invigorating – but far from glamorous. The glamour is a by-product of the business itself. I believe it’s best to see this all as a business and approach it as such. One more thing – throw education into the mix too. I’m a graduate of Fordham University at Lincoln Center (shameless plug) and I wouldn’t trade those days for anything!
You’ve been in a number of different TV series and films – which actors/actresses have been your favourites to work with and why? Any good stories?
This one is tough for me to answer. I know this is slightly a cop-out but I have loved working with every last one of them. Like I said earlier, each job for me is furthering my education in this business. I am always thrilled to study the journeyman actors or the newbies. Either way, I observe and learn. It would be unfair for me to say I have enjoyed the opportunity to work with one over the other.
What’s currently on your I-Pod right now?
Mumford & Sons, ‘The Bling Ring’ motion picture sound track – (second shameless plug but the album is awesome) and Frank Sinatra.
If you could have dinner with three guests – (living or dead), who would you choose and why?
This question has been haunting me a bit. I’m very much an “in the moment” kind of guy. So the answers I give you today would differ significantly from the answers I would give you from say a week from now. Kind of like ordering a fine bottle of wine – my decision is contingent upon the meal I’m eating, the company I’m with, the time of year and so on. That said…
- Frank Capra – he was the first film maker that came to mind when I considered this question and (right or wrong) I feel obligated to reference someone in the film world at the very least. Capra’s film making has always captivated me. I have forever loved his ability to tell stories and I have equally loved the messages his films convey. ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ remains one of my favourite all time films. So, today, I would love to grab a bite and pick Mr. Capra’s mind if I could.
- Og Mandino – as I sit on a family vacation in New Hampshire – (his home of several years and place of death) I can’t help but think of him. Og Mandino was an instrumental author to me. His words served as a huge source of inspiration as I delved further in to the studies of the human psyche and contemplated chasing this career. What I loved most about Og Mandino and his writing was his ability to convey the most complex subject matter in the most simplest of forms. I have forever been fascinated by his life story, his many struggles and his ultimate success – all of which were the greatest of teachers to him.
- Matt Horn – I have forever held the deepest respect for journalists on whole. And the journalist artist relationship has always been symbiotic by its very nature. But, as I told you earlier, I am a student of the human psyche. These conversations can be tough for me. You get to ask all of the good questions but I know so little about you. My wife has used a great metaphor about good conversationalists in the past – conversations are like tennis matches, one person serves the ball over the net and the other hits it back – keeping the conversation going. There’s nothing I enjoy more than a good conversation so it’s incredibly difficult for me to sit back and watch you serve all of these aces!
Which film was your favourite of 2012 and why?
Hm. I’d have to say ‘Argo’. Here’s the thing I loved about that film – we all knew the outcome. We all knew where it was going. Even still, Ben Affleck was able to create a movie where suspense crept up scene after scene. I think that’s really a tough task – creating suspense even when your audience knows where things are going.
What’s coming up for you in 2013?
I’m currently in the process of developing a documentary film dealing, in part, with September 11th, 2001. ‘The Bling Ring’ has led to some interesting opportunities for us but I can’t just yet speak about them. Other than that, I have a series of commercials that are airing and I’m busy enjoying every second I can with my wife and two growing boys. Pretty great stuff…
Thanks for the interview!