Leighton Meester takes cen­tre stage.

ELLE (Canada) - - Radar - BY KATHRYN HUD­SON

leighton Meester is barefaced and glow­ing af­ter re­mov­ing the stage makeup she wore for her mati­nee per­for­mance as Cur­ley’s tragic wife in the Broad­way pro­duc­tion of Of Mice and Men along­side James Franco’s Ge­orge. It’s easy to see why the for­mer Gos­sip Girl star has been break­ing hearts as the vul­ner­a­ble ob­ject of af­fec­tion in the fa­mous adap­ta­tion and why she has been cast as the global am­bas­sador of Bio­therm skin­care: The fetch­ing 28-year-old ex­udes ap­proach­able, sunny-Florida-bred charm. Now, with a role in Robert Downey Jr.’s lat­est flick, The Judge, an al­bum in the works and her re­cent un­der-the-radar mar­riage to Adam Brody, Meester has en­tered an ex­cit­ing new phase. It seems like the life your char­ac­ter in Of Mice

and Men dreams about—fame, es­cape—is ba­si­cally your real life. “I have thought about

that.... It’s like she could be me if I’d stayed in Florida and never moved away, never lived any ver­sion of my dream.” Now that you’re in that world, how do you deal with the pres­sures of pub­lic life, es­pe­cially as the face of a ma­jor brand? “Maybe it’s be­cause I’m get­ting older, but the ‘Hey, can I have a pic­ture or an au­to­graph?’ is not ex­cit­ing to me at all. It’s al­most weird at this point. The more com­fort­able I am with my­self and happy with my real life, the more I re­al­ize that all that stuff isn’t re­ally real. It’s re­ally con­fus­ing. I know that peo­ple like me be­cause they like the art that I do, and that’s amaz­ing, but they don’t know me—they don’t know the bad things about me.” Was that a hard les­son to learn? “Over the past few years, I have weeded out cer­tain friends who aren’t good and peo­ple I’ve dated who aren’t good. Those are hard things to grasp, es­pe­cially when you’re young.” That some­times less is more? “It’s that you have to grow and change. Ul­ti­mately, I would prob­a­bly not work in this in­dus­try any­more if it meant that I wasn’t feel­ing se­cure.” You’ve done TV, film, Broad­way and mu­sic. How do you

stay that cre­atively charged? “I used to work on a bunch of dif­fer­ent things to­gether. I’d be shoot­ing a TV show here, film­ing a movie in Nashville, go­ing back and forth in the win­ter on a plane in a bl­iz­zard, com­ing back on the week­ends and do­ing mu­sic, and then do­ing press for some­thing else I’d done—it was so much. When you’re start­ing out, you have to prove your­self. But there was a ma­jor shift af­ter I fin­ished my TV show, when I was like ‘I can’t give my­self com­pletely to ev­ery­thing all the time.’ I also have to have time with my fam­ily, my hus­band and my dogs—and to just take a bath or call a friend. It’s im­por­tant. I think the only way that I can stay cre­atively charged is just hav­ing time to take care of my­self first. I’m fin­ish­ing this al­bum that I’ve been work­ing on for so long, and I swear I have to stop for two days and not pay at­ten­tion to it be­cause I’m sick of it! [Laughs] I can’t.” What’s the al­bum like? “Ev­ery­thing on the al­bum I wrote was for acous­tic gui­tar. That’s how it started: I went in with the idea that I wanted to keep it pared-down, and some of the songs have grown. I guess it’s singer-song­writer with

some synth-y stuff hap­pen­ing in there.” The singer-song­writer ap­proach is brave. I some­times think it can be more hon­est than

a lot of main­stream pop. “I tried to do main­stream pop, but it didn’t work for me. Even while I was do­ing it, I knew I wasn’t in love with it and that this wasn’t a long-term goal for me. I think I was young and didn’t have as much ex­pe­ri­ence. [Laughs] Or, I didn’t know what I was do­ing.” ■

“Re­cently, I’ve been like ‘I need to take care of my skin.’ When I was grow­ing up in Florida, that was not a con­cern.” Bio­therm Aqua­source Co­coon Balm-in-Gel for Nor­mal to Dry Skin ($49, bio­therm.ca)

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