Connor Paolo plays the youngest member of the van der Woodsen-Bass blended family on Gossip Girl. Paolo’s Eric is Jenny Humphrey’s best friend, and quite possibly the only character in all of Gossip Girl with a clear head on his shoulders. Funny thing, too, because Eric van der Woodsen started out the series checked into a mental institution. Since then, he has come out of the closet, gotten a super-cute new boyfriend, Jonathan, and a new older step-brother to look up to in Chuck Bass.
Connor spoke to BuddyTV about some of the exciting new things that await his character on Gossip Girl, and about his off screen relationship with his fellow castmembers.
This is Debbie at BuddyTV, and today I’m talking to Connor Paolo, who plays Eric van der Woodsen on the CW’s Gossip Girl. So, I wanted to start out by asking you about any upcoming storylines that you’ve got coming up?
Well, the relationship between myself and Jenny really begins to evolve because she has to deal with people back at and stuff like that. And who better than Eric, because he’s awesome? He’s really rough when he’s cornered, so he’s a good guy at your back. My relationship with Chuck also evolves because he goes through some pretty difficult times, and Eric does his best to be there for him.
Can you give us a hint about what kind of difficult times Chuck will be having?
Probably not, but they’re really difficult.
OK, we’ll just have to wait and see, then. I was going to ask you about Eric and Jenny because you guys are supposed to be really good friends, but we haven’t seen those two characters very much together.
Me and Jenny really join forces in a big way for the Thanksgiving episode because we get involved in a lot of the stuff that she’s dealing with with her parents, living away from home. So she comes to Eric for help and for advice and for a shoulder.
And how about Eric’s super-cute boyfriend? Will we be seeing him more?
Well, you know, I think when your last boyfriend wound up dating your best friend, you really can’t get any worse. So, I think we will be seeing him a bit more just because I think Eric is due for a nice person in his life.
So you’ve gotten to work with Taylor [Momsen] and Ed [Westwick], but who among the cast do you really enjoy working with?
To be honest, it’s a very different experience working with each member of the cast. I spend the majority of my time with Taylor, with Ed, with Kelly Rutherford, who plays Lily, and with Blake [Lively] just because those are kind of the members of my family, and Taylor’s kind of an ancillary member of the family. But I have a different relationship with each of the actors off screen. Taylor and I are very close as friends. Ed is someone I really look up to as an actor and as an older guy. Kelly is a bit of a mother figure. So each of them has a different way of translating my relationship onto the screen. But I enjoy working with each and every one of them for different reasons. I really love working with the woman that plays my grandmother, CeCe [Caroline Lagerfelt]. She’s really a lot of fun to work with. Unfortunately, I don’t get to work with Leighton [Meester] and Chace [Crawford] and Penn [Badgley] as much as I’d like to, just because our characters don’t cross over as much in the stories as others. And I barely ever get to work with Jessica [Szohr], who plays Vanessa. But hopefully, later on in the seasons, I’ll get more screen time with them.
It seems like the cast of Gossip Girl, being on the show is launching everyone’s career. How are you adjusting to being in the spotlight and all the fame that comes along with that?
You know, as one adjusts to anything. It’s a process. It’s definitely not an unwelcome process. It’s a nice thing to be recognized for something that you enjoy to do. I think the experience is a bit different in New York City than it would be in Los Angeles, for example, just because people have a different energy to them and things are much more open here. You’re out on the street all the time. I’m adjusting just fine, I think. It’s become part of my life. You know, people recognize you for this or that and it’s just kind of another element to your day.
Do you pay attention to Page Six and whenever you guys are all mentioned in that?
I mean, not really. There’s really no way you can’t because it’s everywhere. But I think most actors and most entertainers and performers in general, or anybody that’s in the spotlight, usually tries to make a pretty concerted effort not to let that stuff influence them. There’s always something to be gained from being aware of what people are saying about you, so you know how you’re pushing people one way or the other, but I’ve learned pretty quickly that there’s no way to please everybody and someone’s always going to have a problem with you. It’s best to take everything, even the good things, with a grain of salt.
Right. You’re not in every episode, so what else do you have going on professionally?
I just wrapped a movie called The Winning Season, and I was working on a new musical called Man in the Ceiling for a couple weeks. My scheduling on Gossip Girl makes it easier to dip my fingers into a bunch of other projects, which is what I love about it.
It sounds like you’re in a lot of different types of things, like movie and TV and theater and stuff. What do you prefer doing?
My first love was always film, only because, as an actor, I love being able to really kind of disappear for one, two, three months, however long your shoot is, and inhabit that character and be that person and really not have to deal with the outside world. It’s a great feeling, and it’s really, I think, the highest high that you can get as an actor. When you’re working with television or with theater, which a lot of people enjoy this aspect of it as well, but you spend much more time as yourself because you’re going home at the end of every day. You’re not necessarily on location. You’re not far away. You go to the theater, and you’re on stage from 7 to 9, or 7 to 10, and then you go home. And then when you wake up in the morning, you’re doing that. When you’re working on a film, you’re kind of just involved in that world. The cast of that film are your friends because you’re working too much to really see other people. I like that energy, and I like kind of just being able to remove myself from my own life for a period of time and really kind of inhabit somebody else’s.
-Interview conducted by Debbie Chang
(Image courtesy of the CW)