Leighton Meester takes centre stage.
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)