Q: What exciting drama is coming up on ‘Gossip Girl’?
LM: 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 friendshipis 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 toCosta 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 withfame?
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.
Q: Your clothes, accessories and hair styles on Gossip Girl set trends. In Country Strong, Chiles’ wardrobe was a bit more over the top due to her pageant queen past. How did you like the change?
Meester: “I was totally willing and I liked the pieces she was wearing. I thought a lot of them were really cute. But I will say it was a lot of maintenance from the hair and make-up and the nails. They would lacquer my hair so it was nice and shiny and big. But underneath it was all this hair spray and teasing. I would constantly be putting my hands in my hair saying, ‘Can I wash it?’ and they were like, ‘No.’ Keeping those nails on was incredibly annoying and taking off the make-up at the end of the day was a long process. On Gossip Girl, we don’t put too much make-up on because we shoot in HD.”
Q: You had a couple of cameos this year in Date Night and Going the Distance but Country Strongis a big role and must be a big deal for you professionally.
Meester: “Professionally, obviously because it’s something I’d never done before – the music, the character, the setting and working with the people I got to work with. All of it has completely changed the way I feel and think. It made me better. It’s inspired the way I write music. Chiles goes through a transformation from writing music that’s for other people to writing for herself. Now I write music based on how my heart is. Gwyneth gave me a guitar – a Baby Taylor which I took to Europe and wrote a bunch of songs. Now I use it as a tool to write and it’s been wonderful for me.”
Q: How is that different than your previous writing experiences?
Meester: “I used a lot of Pro Tools, synthesizers and keyboards. A lot of it is you get a track from a producer and write to it. Now I do it all from scratch, from my heart, from chords I put together and then write entirely on my own.”
Q: Are you giving up the other format?
Meester: “I’m by no means abandoning that, but I”m definitely much more in touch with a different side of myself and I feel fulfilled because of it.”
Q: All that because of playing Chiles?
Meester: “Because of Chiles, I’ve become more of a happy person. I’m much brighter all the time. Chiles wears her heart on her sleeve and she’s not ashamed of anything she’s gone through. Personally, I think this is where I was going. There would be times when circumstances made me not happy I’d wonder: ‘Why can’t I be happy?’ Now I’m much brighter all the time, see the lighter side of things a bit more.”
Q: Your shooting schedule was tricky as you had to go back and forth between Gossip Girl andCountry Strong.
Meester: “Prior to shooting, we did a lot of rehearsals so there was a lot of back forth from New York to Nashville. I was in Los Angeles and in Nashville recording. Once production began onCountry Strong, I would usually start Gossip Girl on a Tuesday and work until Thursday night or Friday morning. Then I’d get on a plane and go to Nashville and shoot Country Strong.”
Q: Was the show good about letting you go off and do this project?
Meester: “There were mostly no issues. (laughs) Basically I threatened everyone around me. I was like, ‘If we can’t work out this schedule, I am never acting again. I’m moving to Costa Rica and turning off my phone.’ Luckily, the movie came around at time that everyone on Gossip Girl could be picking up the slack a little bit for me. We don’t all do movies at the same time, so we switch off and pick up when some other person can’t be there. I think in the fourth year of the show they can say, ‘Okay, we know the schedule. We’ll allow you to go – or move to Cost Rica!’”
Leighton was spotted departing LAX Airport on January 5 with her cute dog! I have added pictures to the gallery:
(x007) Candids in 2011: January 5 – Departing LAX Airport
(x0015) Events in 2011: January 4 – The Launch Of Portraits Of Hope Art Project