Billy Baldwin on Gossip Girl and Underage Barbados Trips with Mick Jagger
Most middle-aged actors would be flattered to find out that one of the hippest series on television had customized a part for them, but for Billy Baldwin, it was a hard pill to swallow. Baldwin begins his Gossip Girl arc tonight as William van der Woodsen, the long-lost father of Blake Lively's affluent Upper East Sider, but at 46, the second-youngest of the Baldwin brothers had a hard time accepting that he was old enough to play the father of a high-school graduate. In anticipation of his debut, Baldwin talked to Lindsey DiMattina (of our sister site Hollywood Life) about finally embracing his role, his "Jewish geography" conversations with Blake Lively, and his own run-in with privileged Upper East Siders.
How do you feel about playing Blake's dad?
I have a five-year-old daughter, but all my friends from college have children the same age as Serena. They are all going to scout colleges and getting ready for orientations. I certainly am old enough to be Serena or Blake's father, [but] it doesn't make it any easier to take. It wasn't long ago that I would have been -- not the guy with Blake Lively or with Serena, but I was the guy who was with the girl. I wasn't carted off to pasture as grandpa. If you're going to be a father, it's cool to be on a hip show and a show that's so relevant. You know how Bret Favre's teammates make fun of him because he's so old and also his daughter had a child two weeks ago? He's an NFL quarterback and a grandfather. I haven't gotten any of the Brett Favre treatment yet, which is nice.
Have you given Blake any fatherly advice about her love life?
No, not at all. We have lovely little chats on the set about the characters and the work and a little bit of what I call Jewish geography -- where are you from, where did you grow up, how many brothers and sisters -- but I don't get into any of that. Her television father will not be walking down the aisle with whomever her real-life husband winds up being. Lucky young man, I might say.
What was the cast interaction like between the two age groups?
I didn't have a lot of stuff with the younger cast. It was mostly with Connor [Paolo] and Blake and Kelly [Rutherford] and Matt [Settle]. There was a couple of bigger scenes where we had a hundred extras and the other cast members were there. I saw them in hair and makeup. I got to overlap a couple times on the set -- like I arrived a couple of times when Leighton [Meester] was leaving. It wasn't any real opportunity to get close or become good friends. Certainly that happened with Matt and Kelly and with Blake.
Are you guys still in touch now that the filming is over?
I have run into Matt on the streets of New York when I was there. I have also texted and spoken with Kelly a few times. Blake is down in New Orleans working on a film [Green Lantern]. She got cast in one of those big monster action films -- based on a comic book character, one of those $100 million studio spectacles.
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