Leighton Meester on Her New Lesbian Role and Lack of ‘Embarrassment Gene’


"Gossip Girl" no more. Leighton Meester is having another moment.

With a lead role in the contemporary comedy "Life Partners" (alongside her husband of two months, Adam Brody) premiering tonight at the Tribeca Film Festival, and her current Broadway debut opposite James Franco and Chris O'Dowd in "Of Mice and Men," these are heady times for the former Blair Waldorf.

"Life Partners" follows two best friends, Sasha (Meester) and Paige (Gillian Jacobs of TV's "Community") -- one straight and one gay -- at a crossroads in their relationship. When Paige falls in love with Tim (Brody), Sasha gets left behind and their girl crush gets, well, crushed.

Meester relates to her character, regardless of her sexual orientation: "The best part of my character is that she's based in reality," Meester told Yahoo Movies. "I had fun with it, being free to be open. And I loved the fact that my character is gay and it's not made into a big plot point."

She continued, "Sasha has multiple love interests in the film and it's never really about her being gay but about the dynamic between her and the other person. Either the woman is too young for her, or this other girl is artistic and cute and funny but a big talker that doesn't have her life together."

For Meester, the challenge was getting it right, entering into gay culture without italicizing it. "I needed to learn an aspect of having a different sexual orientation, to understand, 'Is this correct? Can we say this?' I had the desire to get it right."

(It's ironic that her current husband plays the love interest for Paige, not Sasha. But Brody was actually attached to the project first. Meester came on later after Kristen Bell became pregnant and dropped out of the role.)

[Related: Leighton Meester Praises Adam Brody]

Meester told us her the experience of making "Life Partners" provided very few mortifying moments, even though one scene in the movie involves swordplay with a big purple sex toy. "We weren't embarrassed," Meester said. "We were into having fun. I don't exactly have an embarrassment gene in me. I'm not easily embarrassed. I don't know if that's a good thing."

That's an interesting admission in light of this week's New York Times review of "Of Mice and Men," which sparked an angry response from James Franco. The actor, who plays George opposite O'Dowd's Lennie in John Steinbeck's drama about two migrant workers in Depression-era California, went on an Instagram tear yesterday, calling critic Ben Brantley an "idiot" and then some after the reviewer panned the show overall, and wrote that Franco "sports a Yosemite Sam accent."

The powerful critic had faint parenthetical praise for Meester, calling "the glamorous, pencil-thin" Meester "not embarrassing."

"We're just proud of what we're doing and I'm happy to be part of this," gushed the actress. " I had a sense that on stage I'd have to find my voice louder than in a close-up in a movie. There certainly are different techniques but it's not as different in terms of the emotional life of a character. We have the best director, Anna Shapiro, who has been so good showing how little changes can make things better."

One difference between stage and screen is that, according to Meester, "You are always in frame when you are on stage. Everyone can see you. You aren't waiting for your close-ups."

Meester shouldn't be waiting for reviews, either. She doesn't have anything to be embarrassed about.