Many college students have at one point had the roommate from hell, but it’s a safe bet that said roommate was not quite as disturbed as the title character from the upcoming film The Roommate.
Rebecca, the aforementioned character played by Gossip Girl star Leighton Meester, is a college freshman whose friendship with her roommate Sara (Minka Kelly, TV’s Friday Night Lights) quickly devolves into obsession.
“From the outside, she seems like a really good person,” Meester said. “She’s understanding, she’s artistic, she’s trustworthy, but then eventually she just completely loses that.”
Playing a college student, of course, is nothing new to Meester. As Blair Waldorf on Gossip Girl, Meester’s character is currently enrolled at Columbia University. When looking for a film role, though, Meester was looking for something a bit different from her signature character.
“I think the best part about my job is that I can do different things all the time. I would never want to do the same thing twice,” she said.
So what attracted Meester to this particular role?
“The character. I love to break down and see where I can relate to somebody and find the humanity in them, and I want to care about my character and love my character. It was not easy with Rebecca, to say the least. But I think that if you track how she is and if you track her actions, they’re always motivated by something internal, and not based in reality at all.
“It’s definitely dark in the mind of someone who’s living like this, and it was interesting for me because I have what I believe is a firm grip on reality. I’m weird and crazy like anybody else, but this person, she really doesn’t have control of her mind whatsoever. The decisions she makes aren’t based on rational thinking,” Meester said.
To prepare for the role, Meester did a lot of research. “I got a lot of great psychology books and information on delusion, mental disorder, especially in women, and I had a chance to speak with different psychiatrists about the disorder and get all kinds of information,” she said.
Meester finds similarities between her character’s motivations and those in other films. “This movie’s very much like Fatal Attraction or Single White Female — a woman under the influence.
“She’s not making any decisions based in reality. She doesn’t find pleasure in pleasurable things. She only does anything, including interact with anybody physically or verbally to gain something for herself, and she uses her intelligence, her sexuality to gain control of other people. Meanwhile, she doesn’t have any control of her own mind,” she said.
This year is shaping up to be a big one for Meester. Following small supporting roles in films like Date Night and Going the Distance, plus a more sizable role in the ensemble of Country Strong, Meester finds herself as the top-billed star of The Roommate. Meester is also wrapping up work on two other films releasing this year: Monte Carlo, opposite Selena Gomez and Katie Cassidy, and The Oranges, opposite Hugh Laurie and Catherine Keener.
Meester is also capitalizing on her fame by entering into the music industry. After scoring a top-10 hit with Cobra Starship on “Good Girls Go Bad,” Meester landed a deal with Universal Republic, and is currently recording her debut album. The album’s first two singles, “Somebody to Love” and “Your Love’s a Drug,” have had moderate chart success.
The Roommate, starring Leighton Meester, Minka Kelly and Cam Gigandet (Twiight, Burlesque), opens Friday, Feb. 4.