If you don't know Blake Lively yet, you will after tonight's premiere of "Gossip Girl." Lively, who might be best recognized right now by fans of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, plays Serena, a central character who kicks off the show's story by moving home from boarding school and causing chaos in the lives of her Upper East Side friends — especially best frenemy Blair (Leighton Meester). Lively chatted with me at the TCA press tour about mean girls, making the jump to television, and what sets Serena apart.
How did you come to "Gossip Girl"?
[Creators/executive producers] Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage! Josh is very passionate, and he's very aggressive. He called me personally on my cell phone, and he was like, "You know, you have to do this, I wrote this for you, and I'm not going to the show with anyone else, and I have to do the show, so you have to do it." I've never wanted to do a TV show, just because you have to commit potentially six years of your life to something. It has to be something that you're really passionate about. But I met with them, and they are so excited about what they do. They are so passionate, they're young, and they're not some jaded studio executive who just signs off their name for some commercial product and goes to their house in the Hamptons and is never involved. They're involved from every outfit I wear to every person that gets cast, every backdrop of every scene. If I have a flyaway hair they come up and fix it for me. If it wouldn't have been them, I definitely don't think I'd be doing the show.
You can check out Lively's thoughts on her character if you read more
Who is Serena to you?
I think she's a really cool person. Shes been brought up in this world where she's been taught that she can have anything she wants, like — "Wear this pretty dress!" "Go to this party!" "If you want it take it! "You're the best!" She takes her best friend's boyfriend for a night because she wants him. It's so important because she realizes that she's not the center of the universe. All these kids, they're the center of their own universes. She realizes that that's bad, and I think that takes a good person, a strong person, to realize that. She comes back into this world and it would be so much easier for her to go back to her old ways because that's how everybody else is around her. They wouldn't think worse of her — they would accept her if she went and gossiped about everybody else. That would be great and easy. But she doesn't do that, and I think it's really important. She takes the criticism in order to do the right thing.
That struck me watching the pilot — it seems like Serena's the one who grew up, and the others haven't quite caught up to her.
The others know — they're so intelligent. They know there's another world out there, but they don't have to [go there] right now. They're indulging, they're living in the moment. They know they're going to end up like their parents, and they're going to have to run companies and be multimillionaires and have all these responsibilities and have children to take care of. But now they're young, and they're going to do what they want to do, and they have the privilege to do that. It takes a stronger person to be grown up right now.
Has the experience on the show differed from doing movies?
It's different character-wise because when you do a film, you have the character arc that you have to do in three months. You have to be a different person in the beginning than you are in the end. Whereas with one episode, you can't do the full range of who this person is because the TV show tells three days, where a movie can tell a whole summer or a year or a few years.
It's refreshing to see teenagers played by people who actually are teenagers or not much older. On the set, do you ever talk about your experiences growing up?
We always talk about our trials and tribulations of our own life or this and that that happened to the other person. It's good to be teenagers because it's more genuine for our audience.
Photo courtesy of The CW