Chace Crawford Talks Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding

For Gossip Girl’s Chace Crawford, it seems to be all about testing out his chops for meaty roles on the big screen right now, so to speak. Or at least when it comes to playing an organic butcher in a still thriving Upper New York State hippie community in Bruce Beresford’s memory lane romantic romp, Peace Love, & Misunderstanding. Chace dropped by to gossip a little about the TV show, and a couple of things he may or may not have done to burrow into his alternative culture character in the movie. Like getting in touch with any latent inner hippie, getting high, fun fan stories, and possibly picking up some food tips for his venture into simulating a meat maven on screen.

So was any pot consumed for Peace, Love & Misunderstanding?

CHACE CRAWFORD: Ha! I believe it was not. I wasn’t there for the scenes when they had to do that. The first time I saw it, it was in Toronto. But it feels like almost a year ago now.

Did you get in touch with your inner hippie for this movie?

CC: I like Tom Petty, and I think my music tastes might be of that era partly. But other than that, not really, no! But my grandfather and my grandma have some good stories.

What was it like romancing Elizabeth Olsen in the movie?

CC: We have a nice little arc! But I had no expectations, she’s an Olsen! I met them, and they’re lovely. I heard she went to NYU. And I started working with her, and just started talking with her.

I feel like I’m a judge of talent, and there’s something about her and her character. And I said, this girl’s good. She’s got that thing about her. We became really close, and we’re still good friends. She would be here, but I think she’s shooting something over in Serbia.

This was her first project ever, and she took off from college. I think she had like a year, or a semester, left. We would talk about scripts all the time. And I asked her if she had anything, and she said she went in for Sean Durkin for Martha Marcy May Marlene. She said he seemed really cool, and the script seemed really original.

And the next thing I know, I went to a screening for it out here. And I was blown away by her performance. There’s kind of that feeling of pride, because I got to know her.

So it was a cool experience for me to see this, and get a good friend out of this. We’ll be in L.A., and she’ll have a barbeque or something, and I’ll go hang out with her.

But she’s great, and she was really natural. And it was really natural in the scenes to play off her, and keep it natural.

It’s been announced that Gossip Girl is coming to an end. When you look back on the show, there are probably a lot of things you didn’t expect, like the rabid fan base. As an actor, what are some of the things that you’re going to take away?

CC: Well, this was one of the first things I’ve ever done. I’ve done a couple independent films, but to have that day to day exercise on set, and not having it in your head, you learn to toss everything else aside. You learn to play around with the other person and go with it.

So I think subconsciously, you just learn to go with the flow of it everyday, and being on call and on set. You endure the long hours, and know what to expect. The toughest part is the audition process, and fighting for the role.

And it’s the chase in films, as far as my next phase in life. The chase of movies is almost the most exciting. Once that’s over with, I’m good and focused. I know what it’s like to have the role. The exciting part is that fight for it. And once you get over that, the fun begins.

It’s the whole technical side of it too. I’m not intimidated by the people behind the cameras. I’ve been doing this for five years, so that’s one of the biggest assets to have coming out of it. Aside from that, it’s given me everything.

The crew and the cast, it’s very comparable to a college experience. Especially for people like Ed, who never even lived in the States. He came over, and was like twenty, twenty-one. He kind of had that experience with the guys and the girls.

And I don’t know if it will ever be as good, or if I’ll ever have it quite as good as in New York. Having this fantasy world, and having a consistent job and being on the radar. But it was a lot of fun, and we had a really great run.

What would the reunion show be like?

CC: It would be something like The Avengers! They would bring back The O.C. and the cast from Dawson’s Creek. And we’d have this crazy, emotional, big cry.

I don’t know, I guess they could kill any one of us off, and we could come back! That’s not out of the blue now, apparently, with Bart Bass. The reunion, I don’t know. We’d have to have a group discussion if that would ever take place!

Do you have any fun fan stories?

CC: Yeah, there have been some interesting ones. There was this fan who was always on set. We’d get out of the vans or come out of the studio, and there would always be this fan there. We all got these mini, tiny, kind of like for kindergarteners, lunchboxes. They had collages of our faces all over the whole thing.

And it would have been really sweet if it was from like a twelve year old girl or something. But it was a thirty-six year old man giving us these things! He was always outside, for the first two years.

But after the first couple of years, we’d only see him every now and again. We’d be in the middle of a set, and he’d walk up and say, hey. Good to see you. He was right there with us. He didn’t want any more pictures, but he said, good to see you. Phil was a good guy.

You talk about being on the radar, and always being accessible. Is that something that you won’t miss?

CC: Ha! Yeah, I think it’s safe to say, for my personality type, and the way I function best, I won’t miss it that much, to be honest. It kind of peaked, and then it sort of plateaued. I definitely felt it in a sense relaxing, which has been nice.

But it’s a double-edged sword. Certain aspects of that gets the ball rolling. It gets you on the map, and in some sense, on the board. Which is always a good thing. It opens doors.

But aside from getting a good seat at a restaurant, there’s not too much about it that I’ll miss! I mean, it’s always good to feel the genuine love. And love for the show and character, and the fan base. But it is also nice to slip under the radar a little bit sometimes.

Are there any pairings left that haven’t happened, that you would like to see?

CC: Well, you wouldn’t have to twist my arm to get Elizabeth Hurley back on the show! Yeah, that was tough. But I don’t know if there are any other pairings that I’d be dying to see.

There are a few mothers out there on the show that we haven’t really crossed paths yet. But I honestly don’t even know what to expect from this last lap.

What was it like working with Bruce Beresford for Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding, he always seems to get great performances.

CC: He was great, he was phenomenal. And it was a real smooth process. I remember I was in L.A., and they sent me the script and I just finished it when they said, you need to go in today. It was really a quick thing.

I got it right away, and I was growing a beard and hadn’t really shaved, so it worked. I went in there, and he made me real comfortable. And we played around with it.

But they liked me, and the next thing you know, we got the schedule. And it worked out, because I was shooting Gossip Girl here. I got a rental car, and would drive upstate every weekend for like six weekends.

But it was cool when we were working, he’s just so good with actors. He let us improv, too, and let us throw some things away. He let us do our own thing, which was a blessing.

What was Jane Fonda like?

CC: You know, I didn’t have any scenes with her, actually. I think we had a scene where it was overlapping. But in the overlapping scenes, yeah, I would use playful to describe Jane.

She’s like awesome. She came to the crew parties, and would dance and have a good time. She’s just really engaging, you know what I mean? She’s very charismatic.

And even though we didn’t work together, she would pull me aside and asked me where I’m from. She was really interested in Texas and Dallas, where I’m from.

And that just thrilled my mother and grandmother. But yeah, I was a little awestruck. She just has this aura around her. And she has a really good energy.

Do you share the same philosophy with your character about meat?

CC: Ha! I guess so, yeah. Is Jane’s character a vegetarian? I remember we discussed it a little bit. But being from Texas, I’m not too picky about my meat!

Actually, I learned a lot, to be honest. Like the place we shot at, and there are a couple places in the city that I’ve been to

You know, that has had their name up on the list where they get their meat from organically grown farms. But as far as actually butchering and cutting the meat, I learned nothing.

You didn’t have to go to chopping school?

CC: No! I didn’t have to go to chopping school for this one. I did have to go for another film that came out recently [What to Expect When You’re Expecting]. I went to a couple of classes. but that was it.

What cooking did you study for What To Expect When You’re Expecting?

CC: I play opposite Anna Kendrick, so they had me and Anna working on food sets in the script in Atlanta. In the ninety-five degree summer! We had these chopping classes, and we had this Sous-chef come in there. I can make you a really crappy salad!

But we were chopping potatoes and avocados and peppers, and that was it. And all I wanted to get was the right motion down, and do it quick and whip something up.

So you didn’t actually chop anything up?

CC: In the scene, I think I was chopping something. But I can’t even remember what it was. I think it was peppers, or something. And by the time I was done with those things, it was mush!

What do you think was the most important thing you learned about filming in that part of New York State?

CC: You gotta be careful on the wines, there are a lot of good wines up there! So yeah, you gotta watch out. But I don’t know, I guess more than anything, I learned it was a blessing to shoot there. As opposed to shooting on 59th and Park for Gossip Girl, with a million people around!

But it was really nice. There were a lot of chickens around. But there wasn’t anything really challenging. It was actually nice and isolated and open. It was really liberating and comfortable.

So it was really easy, and there weren’t any distractions. And it was a blessing to shoot in a place like New Paltz. I’ve been out to the Hamptons, the other way, a couple times to check it out. That was the polar opposite.

But Jeffrey [Dean Morgan] actually lives up there. We were just talking about it and I said, you’ve got the dream. He’s got the dream house and the dogs, and the truck and the wife. And I kind of got to experience that.

The show gave me Fridays off, and I would drive up there. My scenes were short, they would kind of spread it out. And I would have one or two scenes a weekend. To be honest, it was more of a vacation than anything! So I had a really good experience.

Did you get to swim in Lake Minnewaska?

CC: I wish! What was the lake, I forgot, it’s been almost two years since we shot this. There was a scene where we were sitting over the lake. I don’t know if it was Minnewaska, I don’t think it was.

But it was beautiful. It was fall, and it was getting a little cooler. You could see, there were two people swimming by themselves in this massive lake. That’s more my style!

In Texas, I grew up on a lake. It’s like a one hundred degrees in bath water, you know what I mean? You’ve got the hills and the trees and everything. It’s not tough.

But it’s a great place, beautiful. We shot in New Paltz, and we went into Rhinebeck. We went into the town, and shot there maybe one day. Or at least, I only shot there one day. That town is so quaint and beautiful.

Have you had any musical aspirations?

CC: Yeah. I think if I get into music, it’s definitely going to be with a Gossip Girl band. I’m really going to try to pull for that one, because everyone is so musically inclined. Penn is quiet, he doesn’t talk about it. But he has a mini-studio in his apartment. He is so talented, and I couldn’t be more happy for him.

I’m friends with everyone, I have a good relationship with everyone. And I couldn’t be more happy for the Jeff Buckley role in Greetings from Tim Buckley to come along for him. He looks a lot like Jeff Buckley, and he’s so musically talented. So I was really happy he could showcase it in something like that.

As far as the fascination with one or the other, it’s tough. I’ve dabbled with the guitar, but I’m never going to take it anywhere. I guess the best artists crave different outlets like that. If you’re a talented actor, that’s not going to translate into a talented musician all the time. I choose to stick to one thing!

You trained in dancing when you were attached to the Footloose remake, are you training in anything musical?

CC: No, I haven’t been. Dirty Dancing, no! I haven’t really been approached for anything. I’m more of Guns ‘N Roses, Motley Crue, Nirvana fan. I’ve heard rumblings of certain things, of biopics and epic stories that could possibly be a movie.

I grew up on Nirvana, so that would be interesting. But dancing, I don’t know if that would be a part of that. But it would be something that would be cool.

Who would be your ideal rock star to portray in a biopic?

CC: I have no idea. I’m trying to think, that’s a tough one. I’m a huge Frank Sinatra fan. I’m not saying that’s something I’d be able to do!

I hear it’s in the works. I’m following it, not for myself, but because I’m a huge Frank fan. But that would be the ideal and cool. Rock, I don’t know. I’m a big Guns ‘N Roses, Pearl Jam, classic, old school stuff. Maybe some day.

What would you like Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding to say to people?

CC: It’s a really sweet movie. There was a really great response at Toronto, everyone got a lot of laughs. It’s really a generational film. And hopefully it’s one of those things that’s really entertaining.

Prairie Miller is a New York multimedia journalist online, in print and radio, who reviews movies and conducts in-depth interviews. She can also be heard on WBAI/Pacifica National Radio Network’s Arts Express.