We love to hate her as the manipulative Blair Waldorf on “Gossip Girl,” envy her chic wardrobe in those “They’re just like US” (as if!) paparazzi pics and crave more of her infectious pop music.
Now, Leighton Meester wants to scare your pants off in “The Roommate,” her new movie hitting big screens Friday.
For those of us who whisper “XO” at the end of every “Gossip” episode, this weekend is our chance to see Ms. Meester bring on her crazy.
The film mixes elements of “Fatal Attraction” and “Single White Female” to inspire nightmares about the freshman dorm experience from hell.
“I think that a lot of people can relate to it because it is a little bit scary…moving in with a total stranger,” Meester said during a conference call to promote the film. “You go to college, you’re without your parents for the first time and you’re paired up with someone who is literally going to be in your space 24 hours a day and has a lot of access to you.”
Meester plays Rebecca Woods, the seemingly chill hottie who goes ape s*** and develops an unflattering obsession for her roommate Sarah Matthews, played by the delightful Minka Kelly (NBC’s “Parenthood” and “(500″ Days of Summer”).
“From the outside she seems like a really good friend, good person,” Meester said. “She’s understanding, she’s artistic, she’s trustworthy. But eventually she just completely losses that.”
Rebecca’s antics are more extreme than most residence halls reports. The chick starts off saying awkwardly sweet things to Sarah like “I’ve always wanted a sister” and waiting for her to return home from nights out with her boyfriend.
A foreshadowing of the worst comes when Rebecca’s mom asks her roomie, “Is she taking her medication?” Cue stalking Sarah’s boyfriend at the library, attacking friends in the communal shower, ripping out earrings, taking up arms and hostage scenes featuring screams straight out of the “Exorcist.”
Meester’s performance is so convincing that she grew afraid of herself while watching the final product.
“A couple of my friends were asking me, ‘How did you like it?’ and I was saying it was scary and I was genuinely scared at points, but it is sort of funny that I’m what’s scary in the movie.”
Meester prepared for the role by delving into mental illness books and speaking with professionals about mental illness patients.
“The psychiatrists I spoke to were the most helpful because they would describe in gross detail different cases that they’d worked on defending their patients who had been convicted of crimes…It’s definitely dark in the mind of someone who’s living like this, and it was interesting for me because I have what I believe is a firm grip on reality.”
Fortunately, the role didn’t overcome the actor’s psyche.
“I can’t say that I wasn’t at all affected by it. I think it stays with you a bit if you’re terrorizing people all day, [but] overall it was exciting.”
Nick Maslow may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.