I get to do things nobody would ever say or do in real life."Leighton, 23, says the nonstop scrutiny doesn't bother her.That seems impossible, but after watching her closely, we believe her.The fact that Leighton isn't concerned with saying or doing anything phony to make sure we like her only makes us like her all the more."If you're just yourself, you'll never lose," she says, shrugging and warming her hands around a mug of chamomile tea. That's when you feel the most comfortable, that's when you have the most success, and that's when you're the most happy." THE IN CROWDLeighton's childhood didn't start off comfortable or happy.Ed Westwick, who plays Chuck, really cuts to the chase when discussing his costar."Leighton plays such a good bitch because she is one," he says.
(Answer: Read on.)Blair is unquestionably the villain viewers root for: ditched by her dad, screwed up by her mom, and in a torturous will-they-or-won't-they relationship with gigantic a-hole Chuck Bass.By the time she walks into La Bottega Caffe, near New York City's Meatpacking District, and settles in to the booth, we're braced for a throw-down. For starters, there's not a headband or haughty set of pearls in sight.Leighton shows up makeup-free in retro Nike sneakers, skinny jeans, a black tank top, and...horn-rimmed glasses (are you picturing this? Clearly, she's not going out of her way to project an intimidating image on us or the customers doing double-takes as they walk by.What follows is a silence so awkward, we actually start to sweat — until he bursts out laughing. She's so good at it because she has fun with it." Boy, the Gossip Girl cast are quite the kidders.Leighton fully understands why viewers have become fixated on the love affair between Blair and Chuck. Chuck knows about her deep, dark side, and he finds it hot," she says, spearing a bite of creamy rigatoni and peas."I never wear makeup when I'm not at work," she explains."It can make you forget what you look like, and I've grown to really love the way I look without it."Sound surprisingly unsnotty? In fact, the night before, she ordered in burgers and watched Home Alone 2 with a friend.But that's not to say she's always a homebody — cast members often go out together, and Leighton's been written up in New York gossip columns for "downing tequila shots" and making out with abandon at nightclubs."The evil side of Blair is somewhere in me," she muses, "but acting her out is like therapy.It means you're not seeing an end to things." So those engagement rumors about her and Sebastian? These days, Leighton's filming her first starring role, in the flick The Roommate, out next year, and focusing on her as-yet-untitled album, which she describes as "quirky, electric pop." (If you're curious to hear how she sounds, check out her cover of "Bette Davis Eyes" on You Tube.) "I never pursued it seriously until this year," she admits."I was making music, but I didn't see a future in it." And despite having fun recording, she's in no hurry to get it out there.