Enjoying the intricacies of her new character, Deborah – Leighton Meester talks us through her new time-travel comedy Making History and what it means for her to have variety in the roles she plays. Has it been hard separating herself from the days of the Upper East Side? With this year marking 10 years since the first episode of Gossip Girl, we see how far the actress has come from the sacred days of Blair Wardorf.
INTERVIEW: LEIGHTON MEESTER
Gossip Girl favourite, Leighton Meester talks us through her new time-travelling role.
Hi Leighton! Do you want to start by telling us a bit about Making History and a bit about your character?
Making History is a time-travel comedy on Fox, it’ll be airing on Sunday night starting March 5th, at 8:30pm, after The Simpsons. It really fits right in there as far as the kind of humour you’ll be finding – right in between The Simpsons and The Last Man on Earth! It’s about Dan, played by Adam Pally. He has a time machine and travels back in time with his friend [Chris, played by Yassir Lester], who’s a professor at the college he works at, as a janitor. They go back in time to fix the things that Dan has messed up about, with the Revolutionary War. You also discover that he’s been spending the last few years dating my character and has lied about almost everything. Not just about that he’s from the future but also that he thinks it’s impressive to say that he invented things like the television, rollerblades and vacuum cleaners. We’re a time-travel comedy, we’re not trying too hard to be scientific about time-travelling on it. It’s an adventure, and for my character especially. I’m like a “hunter/ gatherer” renaissance woman and so for the series my character, Deb, goes to live in modern times with Dan and wackiness ensues! She’s a real fish out of water in modern times and she kinda is as well in her own time because she’s so ahead of the curve as far as her ideals and equality for everyone.
What was it that attracted you to the role of Deb? What was it that made you specifically think “Yeah, this is such an incredible part”?
She’s strong and she’s vulnerable. I get a chance to crack jokes but also call attention to issues that, although my character is such a feminist and believes in equality for all, was a really radical idea in her time. She sort of unwillingly uncovers people’s prejudice in modern times as well. So it’s really interesting.
How did working on Making History compare to working on something like Gossip Girl?
It’s completely different. It’s a show so I guess that that’s the biggest similarity in that the schedule is similar but it’s an entirely different crew, cast, story and time. The best part is that I felt as though it was such a nice collaborative experience, just with the other actors, the writers, the producers, everybody. We really have a say in what our characters do or say and really have a wonderful input, which is really cool.
So obviously Blair, in Gossip Girl, was such an iconic character. Did you find that a lot of the roles you were offered were kind of similar to the role that Blair was?
Not necessarily. That’s what I love about my job, I get to explore different characters and different experiences, whether it be in TV, movies or theatre. I have been able to find characters that appeal to me because they’re different from each other. I think that that’s what’s important to me because I think I would be bored and exhausted doing the same thing over and over. And at the same time I haven’t really been faced with that dilemma, believe or not.
And in terms of your Gossip Girl cast mates, do you still keep in touch with them?
Well a few of my best friends came off that show and we’re close: Alice Callahan, Zuzanna Szadkowski, Margaret Colin, Nicole Fiscella and Amanda Setton. Yeah, a handful of people I’m very close with.
What is your favourite type of character to play?
I don’t really have a favourite character to play, simply because they’ve all been so different from each other and I don’t really play anything for long, long periods of time. Except for when I did my first show, Gossip Girl, I was that character for a handful of years.
Besides that, I think the nice thing about my job is that I play different characters each time I work and get to discover new things about each character and myself within them. I’m fascinated by human behaviour and things that I can relate to in a character. The good things, imperfections and the things that make the character flawed.
I love a character like Deborah in Making History! Her problems are things that you can relate to as another human being but it’s also in this extraordinary circumstance of being from a different time and everything that comes with time-travel comedy. That’s sort of out of this world and not completely grounded. It’s all really interesting and fun to explore.
In terms of like your long term goals, what are you hoping to achieve in your career?
I’ve never been completely content in the moment I’m in. I’m always excited about whatever’s coming next and the challenges that lie ahead with each character and each project.
Even though I’d like a variety of experiences with my career, I think more of the same would also be great. If you told me that I could have the same kind of work for the next ten years I would be happy, you know? I’d love to continue on with this show and whatever’ll come after it and I’d love to continue doing theatre. So, just switching it up and having fun all along would be great, I would take that!
Tell us a bit about what you have lined up for the rest of the year?
Making History is coming out and it airs in March for nine episodes. I’ll be going to a lot of talk shows, interviews and photoshoots and that part is fun because it’s for a project that I’m excited about and something that I’m really, really ecstatic to be sharing and talking about, so it’s great! It’s all very good.
Making History will hit screens 5th March 2017