Leighton Meester on Teen Angst, Hot Dads, and Why Clothes Are Overrated

Leighton Meester attends the Disney ABC Television TCA Summer Press Tour
Leighton Meester attends the Disney ABC Television TCA Summer Press TourSteve Granitz / Getty Images

Leighton Meester, star of the ABC sitcom Single Parents sounds off on teen angst, hot dads, and why wearing clothes is overrated.



But first, the basics:

  • Age: 32
  • Hometown: Fort Worth, Texas
  • Top 3 TV Parents:
  1. Marge and Homer: The Simpsons
  2. Peg and Al, Married With Children
  3. Carol and Mike, The Brady Bunch

How is flexing your funny side along with Brad Garrett and Taran Killam on Single Parents?

It’s really wonderful to work with generous men who don’t lead with their egos. It helps me feel like I can be my best, whether it’s trying to land a joke or summon up some emotion in a scene. Their kindness gives me confidence. My character is fun because she gives a lot of shit and isn’t syrupy sweet.

Is that similar to your sense of humor?

I don’t like mean jokes, but some of my favorite things are making fun of my husband or my friends, like ribbing jokes.

So you can dish it out, but can you take it?

I can take it. But sometimes I can also be sensitive and decide I don’t want to.

You have a 3-year-old daughter, Arlo. How has becoming a parent changed you?

While there is a certain sense of loss of who I was before I became a mom, I do find it amazing and kind of unbelievable that I don’t really miss it. What surprised me is how it makes you explore and remember your own childhood in ways that you never really analyzed before. Like relearning how to play and how to be interested in one small toy for half an hour, or a corner of the rug that they’re cool to sit and look at and just appreciate. Being a parent is hard, but if you can’t laugh, then you’re doing it wrong.

How is your husband [actor Adam Brody] as a dad?

He is even above and beyond the dad I imagined he would be. That’s something I believe a lot of women think about when they meet somebody. If you’re me, that’s the first thing you think of.

Are the standards changing for what makes a good dad?

I noticed when I’m working that people ask me once a day or more, “Who’s taking care of Arlo?” I asked Adam if he gets that same question when he’s shooting, and he said, “Nope.” Or I’ll go to the playground and there will be a dad with his kids, and everyone sort of applauds him…but he’s just hanging out with his own kids. It doesn’t make him less manly—in fact, it’s more manly if he shares the child-rearing and the housework.

You were best known for your role on Gossip Girl as the queen bee of a powerful high school clique. Were you the popular girl in real life?

High school was not the best time in my life. Honestly, I wasn’t in school much because I was working at the time, and then I tested out early so that I could work as an adult. I certainly wish that I’d had more confidence then and spent a lot less time worrying about what other people thought.

I think most teenagers worry about that.

It’s so funny because when you say that, the first thing I think of is actually Trump—like his Googling himself and being mad at the results.

When you were younger, did you date a lot?

I think I was a late bloomer. I used to go to parties where people would play spin the bottle, but when it would land on me, I’d say no, that it was too degrading. I just didn’t wanna do it—especially if it landed on someone I liked. In my late teens and 20s, a lot of the time I didn’t have a boyfriend or seek a boyfriend. I knew I wasn’t ready and didn’t want to be just cycling through.

You liked being on your own?

When I was 20, after a breakup and roommates, I started living alone. I liked being independent, having a career, and making money to pay my own way. I loved my bachelorette pad, just being myself and not having to feel like anyone was judging me for long periods of time.

Did you do any weird things that people do only when they live alone?

I realized I don’t need to wear clothes. My quintessential New York City night when I was single was ordering dinner, having a pint of Chocolate Therapy ice cream, as cliché as that sounds, and watching cooking competitions like Chopped. That was my crack.

Did it get you into cooking more?

Well, New York kitchens aren’t really conducive to major meal preparation. I lived in a fourth-floor walk-up where the kitchen was at such an angle that if you wanted to use the oven, you had to step out of the kitchen to open it.

How was moving in with your husband after you’d loved living alone so much?

There were some growing pains of splitting up chores. You do go from the excitement of dating to, like, talking about bills. I know that doesn’t sound romantic, but it kind of is if you’re both excited and looking forward to this new chapter. Plus, back then I was watching a lot of Hoarders, so I had no problem getting rid of all our redundant stuff.

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