Rachel Bilson Confronts 'Bling Ring' Member Gabby Neiers Years After She Robbed Her
Rachel Bilson is confronting two controversial figures. On the latest episode of her Broad Ideas podcast, the 41-year-old actress sat down with Alexis Haines, née Neiers, and Gabby Neiers, sisters who were a part of the Bling Ring, the group that targeted and robbed celebrity homes, including Bilson's, more than a decade ago.
At the start of the episode, Bilson admitted that she had "super conflicting feelings" about sitting down with the sisters, who recently recounted their crimes in Netflix's The Real Bling Ring: Hollywood Heist, before explaining why she chose to do so.
"It's been a long time since any of this went down," Bilson said. "... To be grown up and actually have real conversations is more important than harboring any awkwardness, animosity, any negative feelings that might come along with it."
With that, the group dove right in. Haines told the actress that she was never inside her home -- she participated in the group one time, going inside Orlando Bloom's house -- but her sister had been inside Bilson's house one time. Neiers' experience in Bilson's house, and her apology to the actress, was cut out of the Netflix docuseries, something that Haines called "so frustrating and so unfortunate."
"I'm grateful that you're allowing me to be here to [apologize] to you face-to-face. I am so sorry that I ever made the choice to go into your home that night," Neiers said. "... I wish that I could take it back. It's been a living nightmare for you for the past 10 years, 11 years. As a mother now, all you want to do is protect your babies, and I know that I stripped you of feeling safe in your home and I am so sorry."
Bilson told Neiers, who was 15 at the time of the incident, that she does "appreciate" her apology and added that she believes she is "genuinely sorry." The actress went on to explain the impact the events had on her life.
"Every single designer item that was ever in my possession was taken during those events, amongst other personal things," Bilson, whose mother's engagement ring was stolen, said. "... I learned the lesson to detach from material possessions, because every material possession of mine was taken. That feeling of violation, it's hard to describe unless it's happened to you personally."
At Bilson's request, Neiers shared what she remembered about her night at the actress' home, which she claimed to have entered along with Nick Prugo and Tess Taylor when she was heavily intoxicated.
"I was pushed through a kitchen window and opened the front door," she said. "... I woke up the next morning in my own home and I had four duffle bags of jeans and I sobered up and realized what happened. My mom and Alexis came into the room, they asked me where the clothes came from. I didn't say anything. I didn't know what to say. It was just hitting me what had happened."
"From then on, reality sunk in of what I did and just the repercussions of my actions. Obviously, I never hung out with Nick and Tess together again. I broke off immediately. I had my own friends. I started a whole new life, because I wanted to try and forget about what I had just done," Neiers continued. "... I was very scared."
As for what happened to Bilson's possessions, Neiers said she gave all of the jeans to a homeless shelter.
"I didn't steal jeans from you. I stole your ability to feel safe in your own home. That's the pain that I sit with," she said. "... I do need to forgive myself... I was 15, but I had been through a lot in my life and I was very emotionally mature."
Bilson encouraged Neiers to forgive herself and move on with her life.
"I let go of that s**t so long ago. You need to," she said. "... You obviously have remorse for going into the house and taking things and I see that... It's so important for you, and as a mother, that you fully let go, because now you are not that little girl, you have your little girl. It's so important, because it's not going to do any good, and it's not going to make you feel good, and there's no point, really, to hold onto something."
"I am not a person that lives my life in grudges, regret, negativity, any of that, so I let go of this s**t a long time ago. Do I support it? No. Do I watch the movies? No. But I'm never a person that holds onto attachments in a negative space," Bilson added. "... You guys did come here. It's a very vulnerable position to be in. It takes a lot to confront anything in your past that is uncomfortable in any way."
As for the accusation that Neiers participated in the Netflix doc and Bilson's podcast to get fame, that's something she firmly denies.
"Seeing [the docuseries] in the top 10, it's humiliating. It's humiliating. I did what I did because you deserved it. That's why I went and said, 'I'm going to rip off this Band-Aid and tell the truth,' because that's what you deserved," Neiers told Bilson. "You deserved to see me humiliate myself for everyone to see and for it to be done and that was my apology. There's no fame-seeking from it."
Bilson added that, while the Bling Ring will "always be triggering" for her, "it's important to move forward in life, and forgiveness to a certain degree is always the best way and the best move, because why hold on to those things that make you feel really s**tty?"
For Neiers, she said that she believes apologizing to Bilson will be "such a huge turning point" in her life, before explaining why she wouldn't take back her mistakes if she could.
"Our family healing and becoming healthy and my children and her children now get to live in a healthy, happy home," Neiers said. "I'm so sorry that it was at the expense of you and your beautiful family and I wish that it hadn't been. I really do. But I can't take it back. The lessons that I've received from that are irreplaceable."
When ET spoke with Haines ahead of the release of the Netflix docuseries, she shared what she hopes people will get out of the show.
"I just hope that people feel inspired to heal, if that’s what they need. I think millions of Americans are suffering with mental health and addiction issues and I think many feel stuck. I think many feel ashamed and scared and I just hope that people can see and hear my story and feel inspired to take that action to get better. Because they deserve it," Haines said. "You're deserving and worthy of healing, no matter what choices you’ve made in your life."
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