When you’re juggling a career as a television star, aspiring pop singer and fashion icon, things in your life can get just a bit busy. Such is the case with “Gossip Girl” star Leighton Meester.
Participating in a conference call while in her car, the 24-year-old actress discussed her two highly different features: the college thriller “The Roommate” and the Golden Globe-nominated country music musical “Country Strong.”
Taking its cue from past psychological scare fests such as “Fatal Attraction” and “Single White Females,” “The Roommate” finds Meester breaking out of her usual roles to play a psychotic college student who proceeds to torment her freshman roommate, played by former “Friday Night Lights” star Minka Kelly. For Meester, the experience of seeing herself as a threatening and frightening character proved to be somewhat disconcerting.
“It is sort of funny that I’m what’s scary in the movie,” she says. “It was interesting for me because I have what I believe is a firm grip on reality. I’m weird and crazy like anybody else, but this [character] doesn’t have control of her mind whatsoever. So it was interesting and somewhat uncomfortable at the same time.”
Not having particularly thick skin when it comes to horror, Meester nevertheless sees “The Roommate” as a film suited to anyone looking to have a thrilling ride at the theaters.
“I’m such a wimp,” she says. “I saw [the movie] and even though I was in the movie, I was scared. I’m so proud of how the movie turned out. I think it’s so scary, and it’s sexy, and it’s fun and it’s exciting. It’s a ride.”
Having shot the film more than a year ago, Meester claims to have “a bit of amnesia” regarding the film. Upon addressing her recent foray into drama with “Country Strong,” however, Meester perked up and spoke of the film with great affection.
“‘Country Strong’ was shot in Nashville, and I got to work with Gwyneth Paltrow, whom I admire so much,” Meester said. “It was essentially a musical, so we did a lot of recording and performing, and it was a really exciting time. Of course, I can relate to that character a lot more than the one in ‘The Roommate,’ just because she’s sane.”
Besides getting the opportunity to share the screen with the Oscar-winning Paltrow and country superstar Tim McGraw, Meester found that filming “Country Strong” also allowed her to expand her musical palate.
“It was such a pleasure to be able to sing that music,” she said. “I’m totally in love with country music and the music that we were making for the film. I learned so much, and it really changed my point of view about country music and Nashville and that whole world.”
With her biggest musical hit being her guest vocals on the Cobra Starship hit single “Good Girls Go Bad,” Meester hopes to spread out into more personal territory in her songwriting.
“Writing music is really important to me,” she said. “Even just last night I was recording stuff that I’ve been writing over the last year, and it’s really completely different than anything I’ve done, and I’m so proud of it. I’m trying to work to get it perfect, and I’m going to release it soon, but I’m really happy with what I’m making right now.”
Though Meester’s schedule leaves little room for breath, she expresses excitement over getting to work across such a vast spectrum of projects. Much like her character Blair Waldorf in “Gossip Girl,” Meester is always on the lookout for the next exciting venture.
“I think that the best part about my job is that I can do different things all the time,” she said. “I would never want to do the same thing twice, so probably [I won’t do so] in the future. I would like to do something new and completely fresh for myself. I never want to be bored.”
— Contact Sarah Grant.