Chace Crawford wrapped Gossip Girl about two years ago, and has officially left the gilded Manhattan streets behind with his latest project, the graceful, Canadian comedy Mountain Men, which won an audience award this week at the Whistler Film Festival. In the film, from writer-director Cam Labine, Crawford plays the prodigal son Cooper, who returns to his tiny Canadian hometown for his mother's second marriage after years in New York. His brother Toph (Tyler Labine) convinces him to go into the mountains near Revelstoke to his dead father's cabin, for a bonding trip that quickly goes awry. The film is more suspenseful than its comedic trappings suggest. When Cooper falls off a cliff after accidentally eating pot cookies, Toph commits to getting him down the mountain, on a makeshift sled, without either brother getting hypothermia in the middle of the Canadian winter. We caught up with Crawford at the base of Blackcomb Mountain in Whistler to hear about his own mountain skills, love of Naked and Afraid, and ongoing attempts at adulthood.
What are your mountain skills like?
Awful. I would die. Being from Texas, I grew up an athlete, and I lived in New York for like seven years, and didn't do much besides hit a pool cue. I was training for a triathlon in the spring, and I busted my shoulder 48 hours before race day, but I got to do about three-quarters of the course.
If you were freezing on a mountain in real life, what would you do?
I would find a wolf and strangle it with my bare hands. [Laughs]. I have no idea. I guess for body warmth? I watch Naked and Afraid all the time.
What have you learned from Naked and Afraid?
That it's really effing hard to do anything, it just seems miserable. I would die. After a night I would tap out. The mosquitoes alone — I would be done. Obviously, the thing you take is the fire starter. Those guys who are like, "Oh I can start a fire." Just sack up and take the flint, and a hatchet. Those are the first two orders of business. If I were freezing on a mountain the fire is the number one thing. But I would still probably die.
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How about the scene where they have you dangling from a cliff?
It was pretty fun. I wasn't there most of the day. They had some stunt guy that actually shot off the cliff much harder than they anticipated, and slammed into the wall, which I guess is the scene they used. I came back at the end of the day, and it was like — whoop — prop me up there. I was only up there for an hour, maybe an hour and a half, doing some reaction shots.
What are you working on now?
I shot a movie that my buddy wrote and directed last September, and I was the executive producer, and we helped get the financing. So we're trying to tweak the editing, and tweak the music, and get it into a festival, and get it sold.
Who is in that one?
My buddy, Joe Mazzello, is the writer director, and Aaron Tveit, who I worked with on the show. It's like an ensemble guys' baseball movie.
What's it like being off of TV and having your life back?
It's so weird because when you're on the show, I feel like you can't really get away from it, and it has been really nice not to have to be associated with that all the time. I was close to every single one of my cast mates — Leighton, Blake, Penn and Ed — and I miss those guys so much it's ridiculous. But they've got husbands, Ed's in London, Penn is doing his music thing. I see and talk to them a bit, but I miss them a great deal.
Do you want to do more TV?
I'm open to it. TV is legitimately in a Golden Age — I'm watching The Affair right now on Showtime. I'm still looking for that next thing. I'm out there trying to wade those waters and trying to figure out what's next.
What's your next project, another indie?
I have literally nothing.
How are you spending your time?
Besides injuring myself in bike accidents to get ready for triathlons? Listen, it's football season in the Crawford household. My whole family is from Dallas, and I go back almost every other weekend for football games. I bought a place in LA, and I'm looking at drapes online. I didn't think that day would ever come. I'm like, "What in the hell is all this?" trying to get customized blinds, and all this crap, but it's fun. Trying to pretend to be a real grown-up.
Where do you shop for drapes?
I don't know. My mom sent someone over to measure.