Kw-logo-smaller

Leighton Meester: City Girl is “Country Strong”

Jan 02, 2011

We know pretty brunette Leighton Meester as NYC socialite Blair Waldorf on Gossip Girl. This year, while also working on her TV show, Leighton went to Nashville to play a stage-shy country music wannabe in the new romantic drama Country Strong even though it meant a really tough schedule filled with music rehearsals, constant plane flights and character confusion.

Kidzworld is meeting with Leighton in Beverly Hills. She looks all glam/country in a cute denim Derek Lam dress as she tells us how she did a lot of YouTube research on both female country singers and beauty pageants (her character Chiles claims she’s “Miss Dallas”). Leighton finally turned “a bit evil” to watch titles like “Beauty Queen Falls” or “Beauty Queen Buys her Sash on E-Bay”.

Leighton at our interviewLeighton at our interview

Kick back and let’s visit with Ms. Meester who tells us first that she’s single now but hasn’t given up on love.

Kidzworld: Let’s talk one of the major themes of Country Strong. Do you feel that love and fame can co-exist?

  • Leighton Meester: I would like it to. I haven’t really been faced with that yet. I’m just doing work and that’s what I focus on now. But, I love, love and I want it in my life. I have a lot of it in different ways. When it comes, I welcome it and when it isn’t there, it kind of sucks to be honest [she laughs] but you have inspiration coming from other places.

Kidzworld: Do you think love has to be the foundation when you are hoping to go out with someone else in the same career field?

  • Leighton Meester: Yeah. If it’s just that you have your careers in common, [it won’t work]. People say to me, ‘Well, if you have trouble, don’t date actors.’ Well, who else am I gonna date when I work 24 hours a day? [we laugh]

Kidzworld: Which character do you identify most with? Blair or your Country Strong character Chiles?

  • Leighton Meester: They are completely different. I think Blair is larger than life and does things that I would never do. She’s very manipulative and conniving in this heightened reality whereas Chiles feels like somebody who I know or maybe a part of myself. She’s a lot of things I want to be.

Kidzworld: You and hot Garrett Hedlund play a couple in the film. Did you know him beforehand? How was working with him?

  • Leighton Meester: I had met him. We have the same agent, but we had a chemistry reading together. I walk in and he’s sitting on the floor. I felt very drawn toward his character. Obviously, Beau is the knight in shining armor but [Garrett] lends a totally different flavor to it with his sweetness and his vulnerable side which changes the character completely to suit him. He’s great and wonderful to work off of.

Kidzworld: You have a couple of scenes with Gwyneth Paltrow. Did you two get a chance to talk and bond before, during or after?

  • Leighton Meester: Yeah. As an actress, I really admire her because she is incredible but, as a person, everybody loves her because she is so generous and, off camera, she’s very funny and down to earth. She’s just a down, cool chick.

Kidzworld: Kelly [Gwyneth’s country music superstar character] gives Chiles seven or eight pieces of advice. What is the best piece of advice you’ve gotten and who did it come from?

  • Leighton Meester: Well, not necessarily from my family. Anything that would come from my family would be like ‘Okay, cool. You’re working. Go take out the trash’. I think the best advice was from this director Julian Farino [/The Oranges/] who was very supportive of following your heart. If you are doing what you love, it doesn’t matter if a smaller percentage of people like it. At least you like it.

Kidzworld: Were there any young country singers that you took moves or sounds from to play Chiles?

  • Leighton Meester: Yeah. We would go to lower Broadway in Nashville and see singers [there] and [my director] Shana is like ‘Now that’s the beginning’ then we went to the Ryman [Auditorium] and saw Martina McBride and Carrie Underwood; these huge stars, very comfortable in that atmosphere.
Leighton Meester is “Country Strong”Leighton Meester is “Country Strong”

Kidzworld: You have performed your music. Would you be happier in the small club or on stage in a huge auditorium?

  • Leighton Meester: I don’t know what’s more nerve-wracking; standing in front of a small crowd and having everyone boo you or having to stand in front of a crowd of ten thousand people with them all cheering and you have to be really confident. This movie has taught me to sing and write from my heart though.
“Country Strong”“Country Strong”

Kidzworld: Chiles starts out frozen with stage fright. Can you relate to that?

  • Leighton Meester:Yeah. It terrifies me when I have to go up on stage.If I ever have to do any kind of public speaking or be up on a stage in front of people, my hands are sweating just thinking about it, honestly. It really terrifies me.

Kidzworld: You had to fly back and forth from NYC and Gossip Girl to Nashville to shoot this. What was the most difficult thing about that pressure? Slipping back and forth into two characters quickly or just the exhaustion?

  • Leighton Meester: I rarely find myself physically tired because I do get a decent amount of sleep. It’s putting your priorities in order. I’d be going back and forth and be on the plane and say “Where am I going? Who am I now?” But I chose to do that and I enjoyed it. Luckily we had a lot of rehearsal time [on Country Strong] that got my head switched to the [Chiles] character. The thing about Gossip Girl, I’ve been doing it for about four years so the dialogue comes so easily.

Kidzworld: You grew up in Florida so how hard was getting the Texas accent right?

  • Leighton Meester: I had a dialect coach. He seemed to say I got it pretty easily. It was hard on set with everybody doing their Tennessee accent which is different but it was fun. I fell into it and I still drop back into it sometimes. A lot of people in my family are from the South so I sort of drew on certain things that they say. It’s a different, slower way of talking.

Kidzworld: Chiles really wants to learn new things. She is using flash cards while on tour in the film. Any further education in your future or any subject you would like to take classes in some day?

  • Leighton Meester: A couple of years ago I was thinking about that because that was about the time I would have been graduating from college and I didn’t go but I’ve had a lot of other life experiences. I’ve always read a lot and that’s part of my life that I enjoy. It’s how I decompress. I love to live in a little fantasy world sometimes which can be good and bad. Then I decided I want to be really smart so I started reading books that you would read in college and started educating myself that way. I read all these classic books.

Kidzworld: Wasn’t joining the Gossip Girl cast sort of like going away to school?

  • Leighton Meester: Yeah. When I moved to New York it was like that. Everybody in the show had moved at the same time and we all hung out and shared life experiences.

Kidzworld: What do you wish the show runners of Gossip Girl would let Blair do or have?

  • Leighton Meester: I want a cute guy to be honest. She’s not gonna be with Chuck for a minute so she needs someone else. I really liked it when she was dating the Prince for a while.

By: Lynn Barker

>
>

readers voted!

Comments

Jazzy23

Jazzy23 wrote:

i dont like country music
commented: Sun Jan 30, 2011

kloee

kloee wrote:

i got to watch the movie Country Strong and it is very good!!! but i watched it cuz i a...
commented: Mon Jan 03, 2011

there are 2 more comments

Please login or register to add comments

share with your friends


Twitter Facebook Myspace Digg


like this article?
Sign up now to get more just like!

latest videos

Poll

Whose Style Do You Like the Best?

  • Serena van der Woodsen.
  • Blair Waldorf.
  • Jenny Humphrey.
  • All of 'em look great!

related stories

Micro_gossip girls-micro
Life is hard, especially rich girls for Blair, Serena and Jenny. Check out Kidzworld's rundown on...
Micro_leighton-meester-micro
Leighton Meester stars in Gossip Girl as the spoiled yet sweet Blair Waldorf. Check out Kidzworld...
Like country gal Shania Twain, Faith Hill is a country artist who is loved by more than just cowg...

Entertainment in the forums

u_nique116
I love the song stay with me by Sam Smith
reply 9 minutes
Black_Ivy
"AlphaT" wrote: "Black_Ivy" wrote: i am mad. very mad. okay so i work at an ice cream shop. and my boss is a four foot organic life form who agitates me to a higher degree every single day. and its not like normal boss commands. like for yesterday example she told me that i never listen and am a complete waste of space at her agency and never gets anything done. um?? organic life form? i am the only person around here who does do anything. so you can shut your face. Sunday will be my twelve day in a row working and in the past three weeks i have had two days off work. so if you can complain about me like that. why are you working me so much? get your life together.  Sarcasm? no sarcasm. my boss needs to get her life together. or ice cream might get shoved somewhere uncomfortable... i mean what? i didnt say that  ;)
reply 16 minutes
AlphaT
AlphaT posted in Latest Trends:
"Black_Ivy" wrote:i am mad. very mad. okay so i work at an ice cream shop. and my boss is a four foot organic life form who agitates me to a higher degree every single day. and its not like normal boss commands. like for yesterday example she told me that i never listen and am a complete waste of space at her agency and never gets anything done. um?? organic life form? i am the only person around here who does do anything. so you can shut your face. Sunday will be my twelve day in a row working and in the past three weeks i have had two days off work. so if you can complain about me like that. why are you working me so much? get your life together.  Sarcasm?
reply 18 minutes
Sana11
Sana11 posted in Latest Trends:
Humanity is so cruel
reply 28 minutes
Black_Ivy
i am mad. very mad. okay so i work at an ice cream shop. and my boss is a four foot organic life form who agitates me to a higher degree every single day. and its not like normal boss commands. like for yesterday example she told me that i never listen and am a complete waste of space at her agency and never gets anything done. um?? organic life form? i am the only person around here who does do anything. so you can shut your face. Sunday will be my twelve day in a row working and in the past three weeks i have had two days off work. so if you can complain about me like that. why are you working me so much? get your life together. 
reply 33 minutes

play online games

Candy-100

A great online version of the famous Candy Crush. This is the best game launched...

1515_gl_kidzworld_100x100_jpg_fz

Intriguing planets, weird and wonderful characters; challenge friends and find a...

157262_(2)

When you go back to Candyland, you’ll wonder why you ever left in the first plac...

100x100_ra_logo_girl

Uncle George has left you his farm, but unfortunately it’s in pretty bad shape. ...

_thumb_100x100

Shoot blobs with different properies to merge yellow blobs. Your blobs can be re...