[IMG:L]The beautiful, willowy blonde Blake Lively, best known for her debut as Bridget in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants two years ago, is following her co-stars in that film--America Ferrera, Alexis Bledel and Amber Tamblyn--to small screen stardom this fall in the CW’s Gossip Girl.
Lively, 20, heads an ensemble in the series from O.C. creator Josh Schwartz about rich, beautiful Manhattanites--and a few outsiders looking into that world--whose lives are chronicled by the unseen but all-knowing blogger Gossip Girl.
As Serena van der Woodsen, the California native shines as a young woman whose return after a mysterious year away is the talk of the town. She gave us the scoop on the show and next summer’s Sisterhood sequel.
Hollywood.com: How did you get the role?
Blake Lively: Josh Schwartz called me about it. Maybe he watched The Sisterhood, I don’t know. I hear a lot of fans of the Gossip Girl books had seen me, and maybe because I had long blonde hair, they were blogging, ‘She has to be Serena.’ He told me “I wrote the show for you. You have to do this. I will not give it to anyone else.” We sat down and we talked about it. I thought about it for a little while. It felt right. Josh has so much heart in everything he does, from his locations to the actors he uses, to the wardrobe, and that was very important to me. That's the reason I did the show.
HW: What intrigued you about the character? What kind of journey will it be for her?
BL: Serena is very complex. She was what you can call a bad girl before and now she's trying to be good. She's been pulled in all different angles, from her mom, to her brother, to her best friend to this new good guy, Dan, to Nate, who she still loves. She's got all of these people pulling on her and she needs to find her place in this universe where they’re handed everything on a silver platter. She wanted her best friend’s boyfriend, she went after him, and now she’s back in this world after going away to boarding school and she realizes she was wrong and she needs to reform herself and make herself a better person.
HW: Can you relate to any aspects of her world?
BL: Definitely. I think in high school there are so many cliques. You're never safe. I did Sisterhood between my junior and senior years of high school and while I was away my friends made other groups of friends. I came back after three months ready to do what we used to do, and things had changed. People get older and there are inside jokes that you don't know about that have happened, and you feel a little lost for a while. And it's a little bit hard to slip back into that. And then the friends that they've replaced you with are a little territorial.
[IMG:R]HW: Did you grow up with any ‘gossip girls’ in Burbank?
BL: Definitely. I think there are catty, insecure girls everywhere. I think that maybe the way people are raised makes them different, makes them insecure and they have to talk about other people and point out things that are wrong with other people in order for them to feel better about themselves. There are definitely gossipy girls there. It's like a small town. But I loved growing up in Burbank. I was very involved in school. I was never part of the Hollywood scene. I was very involved in high school. Our Show Choir was number one in the nation. That was one of my biggest passions.
HW: Does a privileged life predispose teenagers to problems, or becoming Paris Hilton?
BL: I don't think it's so much a life of privilege as it is how you were raised. I think parenting is very important. My family are all actors. I grew up with the business around me but I have such a great family, such a great base. It was never an option for me to become a Paris Hilton type. So I don't think that it's money and privilege as much as it is parenting and the importance of education, and
HW: The show required you to move from California to New York. Do you like it?
BL: Yes! There's so much energy. There's so many artists there, so many people doing what they want to do, even if they're not accomplishing it yet. It’s like the world is at your fingertips there. Nothing closes and everybody's so excited about what they're doing and everybody's all pushed together on an eight-mile island. L.A. is a lot more isolated.
HW: You’ve got a pretty cool wardrobe on the show!
BL: The clothes are amazing. On a casual day at school, I wear a $10,000 Chanel coat. My mom carries around a $35,000 Hermès purse. It's just absurd. I thought, ‘Nobody really spends that much money on a purse.’ And then someone walking down the street, walking their dog, had the exact same purse! Our costume designer is very collaborative. You're able to really pick what you like best for you.
HW: You’ll be back in those shared jeans next August in Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2. What can we expect from the sequel?
BL: Since two summers have gone by, we've added decorations to the jeans as their lives have changed, as stories and experiences have been added to their lives. We're going to see how their lives have changed. The first movie was so much about the sisterhood and all the things that we have, that sisters have. This one is more about, ‘We're so caught up in our own lives, how do we find the sisterhood within this?’ because we need each other.
HW: How has everybody changed since the first movie, after the success you’ve all had?
BL: Our lives have gone in different paths from when we first met. They're really great, genuine people. Nothing has changed about [any of] them as a person. So when we get together, it's exactly the same, like no time has passed. They get to mothering me again. We have so much fun, though.
[IMG:L]HW: Your Sisterhood co-stars have all done TV. Did any of them give you advice about doing a series?
BL: My first instinct was to call the girls, because I knew they had all been through it. But they’re so doggone opinionated and they're all so different. When I was going to get another dog recently they wrote a whole list of pros and cons for me. So I decided to make the decision on my own and then talk to them about it, which I think was the right decision. But they did give me advice, how to stay sane. ‘Don’t try to do anything, just sleep and eat,’ because I do try to do everything. I think I’m superwoman sometimes. So they were really great about it, very supportive. It really helps me to have such great genuine friends like that who have already been through this before. They're definitely a good support group.