If she seems aloof about her celebrity status, it’s probably because Hollywood is nothing new to Lively. In addition to her manager mother and her actor father, Ernie Lively, who played her onscreen dad in both Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants films, each of her four older siblings (three of them are half-siblings) has acted. Lori has had guest-starring roles on television series like ER, Cold Case, and The Mentalist. Jason played Rusty Griswold in National Lampoon’s European Vacation. Robin is best known for playing the title character in the ’80s comedy Teen Witch. Lively’s brother Eric, a onetime Abercrombie & Fitch model, picked up where Ashton Kutcher left off as the star of The Butterfly Effect 2. Blake’s first film job—her first job of any kind, for that matter—came in 2005 with her portrayal of Bridget, a high school student who has an affair with her soccer coach, in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.
Lively moved from her hometown of Los Angeles to New York when she was cast in Gossip Girl (which is, in many ways, also about getting into people’s pants). Her costar Leighton Meester, who plays Blair Waldorf, her best friend and brunette foil on the show, remembers the first time they met. “It was at the screen test for GG,” Meester says. “She really lived up to her name—very lively—and she kept talking about American Idol.” Although the show’s producers haven’t announced an end date for the series, its actors’ contracts are up soon, and renewal seems unlikely. “My impression of Gossip Girl is that she’s pretty much a slave to it in that they have her for another year,” Oliver Stone says. Rather than giving the impression that she’s trapped by a contract, Lively focuses on the incredible opportunities the series has granted her. “It’ll be bittersweet when it’s over because it gave me all of this,” she says, scanning the second floor of the mansion where we’re huddled next to each other on a windowsill. “I think the best way to describe it is like someone who really enjoyed high school, and is like, I’m a senior and I can’t wait for the next thing! Gossip Girl was so great, but what’s the next challenge in life? Because, you know, six years is a long time. And as an actor who plays a caricature of myself on the show, I don’t think I’d say, Watch Gossip Girl for my best quality of work. But I am very lucky to have had that experience.”
On a recent episode of the show called “It Girl, Interrupted,” Serena, who has surreptitiously taken control of the Gossip Girl website from its still-unknown originator, says to Blair, “I’m ready to move on with my life, and I can’t do that with Gossip Girl tracking my every move.” The line might as well have been written for Lively herself, who seems ready to trade in her it-girl status for big-screen credibility. She knows, however, that when it comes to branching out into film, she might not always get what she wants. There will be unattainable parts, difficult shoots, and emotional scenes, but she seems ready, hungry even, for the shift. “I’m not in the business of trying to win the approval of my cast members, my director, or my audience,” she says. “If I were, I’d be so beaten down by insecurity that I’d never be able to perform. The only person I’m trying to prove something to is myself.” Just then, her assistant returns from Sprinkles with a full box of S’mores.
Styling by Melissa Rubini.