Remember Paris Hilton?
The heiress-reality star-businesswoman hasn’t been regular tabloid fodder of late, but she was all anyone would talk about in the mid-to-late aughts. The stories came so fast and furious that the Associated Press even imposed a ban on any coverage of Hilton. It lasted a little over a week.
On December 18, 2008, Hilton was one of the first celebrities targeted by the Bling Ring, a ragtag group of mostly privileged teens who robbed a number of celebrities from 2008 to 2009. The group allegedly robbed her home up to six times, making off with more than $2 million in jewelry, as well as a number of designer duds. Hilton makes a cameo appearance as herself in Sofia Coppola’s film based on the group, The Bling Ring, and even allowed Coppola to film inside her burgled home, where she still lives.
In a wide-ranging interview, Hilton spoke about being targeted by the Bling Ring, the ascent of Kim Kardashian, her new album for Lil Wayne’s Cash Money Records—yes, it’s happening—and more.
How were you cast in The Bling Ring?
It was my birthday party last year at my house, and Sofia came. She was just walking around my house taking pictures, and all of a sudden she came up to me and told me, “I’m doing a movie on the Bling Ring and I’d love to shoot here. This is going to be impossible to re-create.” I love her and think she’s so talented. After speaking with her, I agreed to it.
So you still live in the house that was burgled.
Yes, I do. When it first happened, I’d already had so many other experiences at other houses I’ve lived at in the Hollywood Hills with stalkers, people climbing my gates, and tour buses full of people driving by. I’ve always been used to this. But living in a gated community is the safest place you could live in L.A. Even though it happened to me and it’s scary, I just had to up the security in and around my house with cameras, laser beams, and the most high-tech system.
Did Sofia keep the house as-is in the film? There are these hilarious Paris Hilton monogrammed pillows with your face on them.
Those actually are mine, and the house is exactly how it is. The only thing that they changed is I have a stairway leading up that’s kind of my “wall of fame” with hundreds of framed magazine covers, but they couldn’t use the covers because they would have had to get clearance, so they inserted mock-ups. Those pillows with my face on it were actually a present from my girlfriend for my birthday, and I just thought they were so funny and hilarious.
Reading the court documents, it seems the burglars entered through your front door because a key was hidden under a mat right by it.
In my gated community, nobody used to even lock their doors because there are guards there, and it’s a gated community. I don’t even think there was a burglary there until this happened. My housekeeper had been there and left the key under the mat for me, so they took the key, made a copy of it, and brought it back. The kids basically had their own copy of the key and broke into my home, like, six times.
And you hadn’t really noticed until the final time, when they stole something like $2 million in jewelry from you.
Yeah. All the other times they came and would steal designer gowns, designer handbags, sunglasses, or anything else designer, they would take it. When they figured out where my safe was in my jewelry closet room, that’s when they did “the big hit,” and I realized it. Both of my grandmothers had passed away in the past couple of years and left me jewelry that had been in my family for ages that I’ll never be able to replace. Awful.
Did you get any of the jewelry back?
Only my “costume stuff.” Anything of value, every single Rolex, diamond earring, or anything else, they had sold. I just got back a bunch of things that weren’t that important to me.
The kids managed to steal some racy photos and some drugs too, right?
In that scene, the kids actually run down the street and find [cocaine] in a neighbor’s car, so that wasn’t in my house. And they took some photos. I did a campaign for my Champagne line and they had me painted all in gold—I actually have them blown up in my living room—and those were the Polaroids from the shoot.
All of the Bling Ring members are out of prison now. What are your feelings toward them?
They completed violated me. Every time I come home, I’m scared someone might be in there. The fact that they tried to steal my dog, were laying in my bed, and chilling in my house while I was gone makes me sick. They better never see me. My brother [Barron] actually saw one of them in a club and looked at the owner and said, “That’s one of the kids that stole from my sister,” and they threw him out and blacklisted him.
It’s an interesting paradox because you seemingly rose to prominence based on the media and public’s celebrity obsession, and then were subsequently targeted by these people because of that very obsession. What do you think the Bling Ring’s bizarre actions say about our celebrity obsession?
[Pause] I think it’s just out of control. It’s crazy to see. When I was a little girl growing up, I didn’t care about celebrities; I just cared about animals and wanted to be a veterinarian. Nowadays, kids are obsessed with becoming famous. It’s a scary world to grow up in, especially in L.A. I’d be afraid to raise my daughters in this town the way it is.
You are tabloid fodder less these days. But was there a period where you had a similar desire to be famous?
I didn’t really think about it. This was before reality TV was out. Me and Nicole [Ritchie] just got offered The Simple Life and it was a big hit, and we didn’t know we’d have to do it for so many seasons. We had fun doing it, but it was just a whole new world for us. Nowadays, I’m busy traveling around the world. I just opened my 44th Paris Hilton store and launched my 15th fragrance. I feel like I’ve grown up and become who I really am, which is a businesswoman. I try to stay away from that “scene.” I’m just over it. I’ve been going out for so long, and now when I’m at an event or a party, I’m being paid to be there or I’m there for my products or my brand. Now it’s just about business. I don’t enjoy going out like I used to.
There are rumors that you’ve signed to Lil Wayne’s Cash Money Records label for your upcoming album.
I’m in the studio and almost finished with the album, and yeah, they’re just finishing up all the paperwork and there will be an announcement soon. But I’m so excited. I think they’ve created an amazing brand. Lil Wayne and some other surprise guests will be on the album, and it’s going to be so sick. It’s an electropop album with some dance-y songs.
Is it true that you dated peak DiCaprio, during his post-Titanic period? That’s the rumor.
[Laughs] We’ve ... known each other a long time. He’s a very nice guy.
I’m sure you get this a lot, but the general consensus seems to be that Kim Kardashian started getting seen out partying with you in New York during your party heyday and then seemingly duplicated your blueprint for stardom.
People say it all the time, but it’s not something I really think about. I’ve seen a lot of girls in Hollywood try to duplicate what I’ve done because I was the first one to do all of this. I think it’s flattering to see that people want to be like me, I guess.
I hear you’re getting into the family business.
My first property is opening next year in Manila. It’s amazing. It’s got this whole three-story beach club, movie theater, a nightclub, restaurant, spas, and seven towers surrounding it with a manmade beach. Then we’re going to open some boutique hotels and nightclubs out in Mumbai. I’m excited to be following in my family’s footsteps.
What are the biggest misconceptions about Paris Hilton?
There are definitely a lot of misconceptions about me. People just assume that because my last name is Hilton, I don’t work and I’m spoiled and everything is just handed to me. It’s actually the complete opposite. I could’ve just been one of these trust-fund kids, but as soon as I moved to New York, I signed to Donald Trump’s modeling agency at 16 and started making money. From there, I built my own brand with 17 product lines. I haven’t accepted anything from my parents since I was 18 years old. Also, with The Simple Life, people think because I’m blonde and because of that show, that I’m an airhead, but if they saw me in a boardroom or business meeting doing my thing, they’d feel differently.