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Leighton Meester Is 'Country Strong' -- Exclusive Interview

Leighton Meester Is 'Country Strong' -- Exclusive Interview

Check out Leighton Meester in these exclusive pics taken during at a recent stop on a promo tour for her film Country Strong in Los Angeles.

The 24-year-old actress paired her Derek Lam dress with Miu Miu shoes.

Leighton took time to fill in on her experience filming Country Strong in Nashville, the possibility of recording country music one day, and her Christmas plans!

Click inside for Just Jared‘s exclusive interview with LM…’s Exclusive Leighton Meester Interview

JJ: I’m mad at Faith Hill for stealing your gorgeous duet with Garrett Hedlund (“Give In to Me”) on the Country Strong soundtrack.
LM: (Laughs) I’m sure that they will release the duet as well at some point. The soundtrack is beautiful, I have it on repeat.

JJ: What was it like filming the movie?
LM: It was really fun, really different and an amazing experience.

JJ: Did you seek out a musical?
LM: No, I mean I initially I fell in love with the character, the script, and the way Shana (Feste) writes human relationships and interaction. I loved the character and I felt like I wanted to do her justice, then on top of it Gwyneth Paltrow being involved with it was a huge draw for me. Then came the music, and I thought that that was a wonderful part of it because the music’s beautiful and it’s also part of the story. It narrates a lot of the film.

JJ: And you got to dabble in a different genre of music.
LM: Yeah, that I’ve never done. It was a completely different world. Nashville is an entirely different world. The way people make music is very inspiring to be there and work there.

JJ: Did you get to enjoy Nashville a little bit while filming?
LM: Yeah, I was filming [Gossip Girl] in New York at the same time so I went back and forth. On the weekends I’d be shooting in Nashville. Everyone was saying, “Let’s go out, lets do something” but I would have to catch a plane or go to sleep to stay sane. I did get to go out a couple times, during rehearsal process Shana took me to a couple honky-tonks and we watched some live performances there. [My] character goes through an arc with her performances, she starts off not very confident, and she starts to come into her own and be able to perform. We saw people performing in a honkey-tonk, shooting whiskey on stage, and jumping up on the bar, just completely different and Shana said “watch”. We later went to the Ryman and saw Carrie Underwood and Martina McBride performing and they were these huge stars owning the stage, so that was the arc of Chiles’ performance. She starts off unable to utter a note and then she eventually can perform for an arena.

JJ: A big part of the film is based on drug addiction, specifically pills, something that’s very real in Hollywood how do you stay away from that?
LM: For me it’s not hard to stay away from it. I think a huge part of what this film’s underline theme is, is “can you have love and success, or do you have to choose?” In my eyes I don’t think you do. I haven’t had to question that. I’ve just been working and not bothering with wondering if I need to choose. I love love and I think eventually I would like to have some, I welcome it. I think the main problem with somebody who would have so many issues is that they don’t have love in their life, and I feel like working to me is important. I want to make my family proud and I love my family. That’s what gives me the strength to do it. I think that part of not having love, you kind of fulfill that with drugs or alcohol or any kind of addictive or abusive substance or relationship, and it will ruin you. I guess that the lesson is just “don’t do drugs, just say no.”

JJ: You have fans all over the world and are a role model for many. What is that like?
LM: I think that I would never necessarily say that I would want that because I think it’s important to just live your life. Luckily what I want from my life is to be happy and healthy and grow as an actor and as a person. Hopefully if someone were to look to that as an example then they would see the positive. At the same time when I’m choosing roles and when I’m making choices in a role it has to be what’s right for me.

JJ: Well, what’s right for you in terms of your music right now? When are we going to hear an entire album?
LM: I just performed the other night (in Los Angeles). I was performing with Check in the Dark, a band that I’ve been working with. I’ve been talking to them for a couple of weeks as they were planning this show and I said I would get up and do a few songs. I’ve been writing since April, so that’s eight months, I’ve been writing a lot. I went to Europe for three months and came back with a whole bunch of songs that I love and I want to release eventually. I’m feeling no pressure to do that because I want it to be perfect and I want it to be right, and it’s definitely different than what I was doing before. I was inspired by this movie really to do something different.

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JJ: I love the song “Summer Girl” in the film.
LM: Yeah, it is really cute!

JJ: Was country music ever a thought for you?
LM: That’s what everyone keeps saying — “Are you going to do a country song, or country album?” and I just think I should start saying yes (laughs). I would never say never because I love country music and I think it’s a very true music form. I spent so much time in Nashville and we got to work with the most incredible musicians and producers and writers and singers. I met the woman who wrote “Give In to Me” and I just gave her a hug and I fell in love with it. I understand country music. It’s telling a story. It transcends. It lasts.

JJ: What are your Christmas plans?
LM: I have plans to do nothing. I have plans to have no plans. I am just really excited to just be with my family and when I’m in Florida I do absolutely nothing. We just enjoy eating and sleeping in and watching movies and playing video games.

JJ: What do you guys watch together as a family?
LM: Well, I think that Blues Clues is taking over because my niece is 3 and she’s obsessed. We go out on the boat and water ski. We go down to the Keys for a couple of days. It’s just nice.


Watch Leighton Meester in Country Strong when it hits theaters everywhere on January 7, 2011!

Just Jared on Facebook
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Photos: Francis Bertrand
Posted to: Leighton Meester

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