From the front steps of Milk Studios in Hollywood, you’d think the apocalypse was coming.
A cluster of helicopters swirls overhead; sirens blare past at 10-minute intervals. But Leighton Meester doesn’t mind. “It’s just so nice out,” she smiles. Cahuenga Boulevard is always this noisy, but Los Angeles hasn’t seen a day so warm and sunny in weeks (it’s winter over there atm), so we decide to sit outside anyway. “I’m such a baby about being comfortable,” Meester says. “Comfortable temperature, comfortable clothes.” She takes a seat at a white table on the patio directly facing the sun. She’s not even wearing shades—just a pair of black leggings, a grey tank top, some sneakers, no makeup, and her honey-blonde hair in a messy ponytail.
It’s been two minutes, and already I can tell Meester is not your typical high-maintenance Hollywood actress. Off screen, she has the laid-back demeanour of a truly regular person, not just a celebrity pretending to be relatable. In fact, when she first arrives at the studio for our interview, I don’t even recognise her: The juxtaposition between Meester’s natural self and the glitzy characters she’s played on screen, both in Gossip Girl and Country Strong, is extreme. “In my daily life, I don’t have a makeup routine,” she shrugs. But it’s not just her aesthetic. There’s an inherent quietness, a modesty, to Meester’s personality that catches me off guard.
Before we get to talking, Meester notices a coffee stand just inside the lobby. “I’m going to grab a cup if that’s ok,” she says. (Soon I’ll learn that coffee is Meester’s one true vice.) “Do you want anything?”
Five minutes later, the actress returns, her body newly caffeinated, her eyes sparkling. “OK, now I’m ready,” she says.