April 23, 2014

Leighton Meester Interview: Gossip Girl Secrets and Growing Up in Florida

By Fred Topel

hollywoodnews.com: ‘Gossip Girl’ returns at the end of this month to continue the drama. The show’s catty star, Leighton Meester, gave us some hints about what’s coming up. Meester stars in the new movie Country Strong opening Friday, so she told us a little bit about the show and her childhood history while she was on the press rounds.

Q: What exciting drama is coming up on ‘Gossip Girl’?

Leighton Meester: Well, we have a little break there. We’re not coming on until January 24 I think or around there. I will say Valentine’s Day is interesting. Very interesting, you can imagine.

Q: Will it pick up right where we left off or has time passed?

LM: No, it’s pretty much it’s not like there was a break.

Q: So the cliffhanger is resolved.

LM: Isn’t it always a cliffhanger though? There is a little bit. I think it’s between Dan and Blair. That friendship is starting to blossom. I kind of think it’s cute but I also think it’s sacrilegious.

Q: Have you thought about life after Gossip Girl?

LM: Obviously we’re under contract for a certain amount of time. I think in the fourth year they start going, “Okay, we know the timing of things. We know how much we need you and how much we don’t.” So they’ve been very kind to let us out. I’ve been lucky enough to find projects that I really like to do. Usually they’re on hiatus. This one was not. I had to threaten everybody in my life, including my manager, my agent and everybody that I worked with. I was like, “If I can’t do this, if we can’t work out the schedule, I am moving to Costa Rica, I’m never going to work again, I’m turning off my phone.” I was bluffing, but it worked.

Q: Now you can’t use that again.

LM: I know.

Q: The film is about a singer who can’t handle fame. Did that make you think about your relationship with fame?

LM: I think more than anything, the movie asks the question can you have love and success? Fame to me is just silliness and I don’t want that. I guess that is somehow part of my job but I think my job is acting and that’s where I find my joy. I don’t really have any issues or problem with it. The best part about that aspect is that we have good fans, and in the rest of my life I can wear sweatpants around and then I don’t have any problem whatsoever.

Q: Had you been a fan of country music?

LM: You know, I grew up in Florida. I was definitely aware of country music. I really grew to love it and respect it. I have this movie to thank for that now. It’s the best thing ever.

Q: What music did you listen to growing up?

LM: Well, growing up my parents were always playing Paul Simon and Madonna and Bonnie Raitt. Obviously not all country music but I always listened to music when I was growing up and I remember it touching me from a really young age. I was in the grocery store with my dad one time and I think Whitney Houston was playing. I must’ve been like four and I said, “This gives my back tingles.” My dad was like, “That’s what it’s supposed to do.” Then because of this movie, Garrett [Hedlund] introduced me to Blaze Foley who I listen to all the time and I love.

Q: And now?

LM: I love me some Taylor Swift. I think she’s awesome and I got to work with Nathan Chapman who works with her all the time. I think that was a perfect fit for the music that Chiles does. He’s like a teenage girl in a grown man’s body as he would put it, not just me.

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About Fred Topel

Fred Topel has been an entertainment journalist in Los Angeles since 1999, for websites like Daily Radar, About.com, Crave Online and Sci Fi Wire. Follow his celebrity encounters on Twitter @FredTopel.

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