The Bill: Leighton Meester joins James Franco and Chris O’Dowd in the Anna D. Shapiro-directed revival of John Steinbeck’s 1937 play Of Mice and Men as a farmer’s pretty wife who causes trouble for two inseparable farmhands.
Star Quality: Meester spent six seasons playing the impeccably styled Upper East Side “Queen B” Blair Waldorf on Gossip Girl and has starred in films like Country Strong, plus The Oranges and last month’s Life Partners with husband Adam Brody.
Stage Experience: None.
On being the only girl in an all-male cast… “There’s a ton of women backstage, so it’s balanced. And onstage, the thing about working with actors is that even though they’re supposed to be hard, tough, dirt-caked ranch men, they’re actors so they’re very sensitive, very in touch, and they’re all very musical — there’s a lot of singing and playing instruments backstage.”
On deciding to make her stage debut… “I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but I barely had to think about it. They called me and said they were thinking about putting Of Mice and Men on Broadway, which was automatically awesome, but then it was with Anna D. Shapiro, great, James Franco, awesome, Chris O’Dowd, brilliant, so it was really a no-brainer. I’m surprised how much I’m still learning and how much I love it. I’ve actually never felt so full and whole and rewarded from anything, ever.”
On growing up after Gossip Girl… “It’s been almost two years since the show ended and I’m forever grateful for it, but I’m an autonomous, different person and now I am discovering who I am as a woman and as a person, as a wife — all of which is meaningful within the play.”