The much-maligned Vanessa Abrams has struggled at times to find a foothold on Gossip Girl. Will the new season change all that? What is in store for this controversial character?
We asked Jessica Szohr about that ourselves!
In an exclusive interview, TV Fanatic spoke to her briefly about the fallout from last season and we can expect come September, plus her new role in the film Piranha 3-D ...
TVF: Last season Gossip Girl ended with Vanessa in Haiti. Without giving too much away, what can we look forward to this upcoming season?
Jessica Szohr: She comes back and right before the season ended she was left a text from Nate saying that something might be going on with Dan and Serena, so she’s coming back to sort that out. We don’t know really know if she wants to be with Dan or if she doesn’t want to sort it out, but then of course because its Gossip Girl, she comes home and there’s a whole other situation in front of her when she gets back that she has to deal with, with Dan and a guest star character. A couple episodes in, we start to see if she’s going to work this out with him or not or if there’s someone else in her life. A lot of stuff happens in the first four episodes. There’s a lot of shocking moments, a lot of “OMG” moments, and the fashion is wonderful again, and the music is great. I know that doesn’t give much, but it’s basically drama, breakups, relationships and new guest stars. Definitely a lot of shocking moments again.
TVF: How do you relate with Vanessa?
Jessica: There’s some similarities and there’s also a lot of things that are different. I’m a pretty laid back person, but I feel like our styles are very different. She always has lots of color, and I’m much more simple with myself. She’s a caretaker, which I am in my real life and I also want to make sure everyone’s okay. She does that too. I feel like sometimes she doesn’t know when to put her foot down when she’s being taken advantage of. She’s the most relatable character on the show, she works a normal job, she doesn’t have parents that can pay her way out of certain situations or circumstances. I remember at the end of the season the director came up to me and said “you know that Vanessa and Dan have the most normal relationship?” and I thought about it and I was like “we do, really”. She also has a big opinion and a big voice which I think is great and I in my personal life I pick and choose where I’m going to state my opinion or let it go and she doesn’t really hold back. She just does it, which is great sometimes, and other times I’m like “woah Vanessa, simmer down.” [laughs]TVF: Tell us a little bit about Piranha 3-D.
Jessica: Piranha is all in all a fun, scary, entertaining summer popcorn movie. I play Kelly, one of the local girls who doesn’t get caught in the whole Spring Break things. She finds herself in this situation when her crush is getting on one of these boats and she decides last minute to get on one, so she’s kind of out of her comfort zone. She’s a goody goody and gets on the boat with these not so good out of towners and things hit the fan. Piranhas start to attack. They’re not using your typical Piranha, they’re actually using what a prehistorical Piranha might have looked like. Basically the Piranhas got into this lake from an underground earthquake. I’ve seen picture of what they chose them to look like and they are disgusting and terrible and gross. There’s funny parts to it, there’s scary parts and there’s little love stories and relationships with people’s parents. We filmed in Arizona, and we had just wrapped the show so it was nice to get out of the cement jungle and be in this quiet desert town. I haven’t seen the final cut, only a few scenes from doing voice over work, but I can tell you just from working on it and being a part of it, it basically starts off showing what the towns about and how these kids go crazy on this lake and how she’s not involved in that world, but the boy who’s the reason she got on the boat, and basically just trying to stay alive. (laughs) Really great film, really cool cast, great film-makers, and just a really great experience.
TVF: How challenging was this role for you?
Jessica: It was really neat because it was something totally different than I’ve ever played. She’s different from Vanessa, and it’s a horror film so having to be there and not work with any fish, fake ones or real ones, and have to pretend that they’re there and we’re swimming away from something that’s not actually there was fun. I tried to be as organic and real and into character as much as I could and hopefully that will come across on screen.
TVF: Did you have to do anything special to prepare?
Jessica: We did. In between days I was before we did the water scenes we did breathing exercises for scenes that we had to shoot under water. We did some water training, which is interesting because I never thought I could hold my breath for a minute and 45 seconds underwater after the training. It was really scary when filming. I’m no claustrophobic, but I’m not the biggest water fan ever to begin with, but doing these breathings exercises and having to film it without goggles on and going through these tunnels 7 feet under water was pretty scary. I tried my best. They have so many people around with breathing tubes and everybody right one top of me if I was running out of breath, so I felt safe and secure with how much help I had around.
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