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Brittany Snow on Gossip Girl tonight: Is Tampa native's series over before it begins?

Valley_girls_poster_c When Brittany Snow and I last spoke, she was an earnest 16-year-old shouldering an impossible task: headlining NBC’s ambitious ‘60s-set series, American Dreams.

Now, as the Tampa native prepares to star in a buzzed-about episode of Gossip Girl Monday, the 23-year-old comes across as a much more assured Hollywood veteran.

Ask about her revelation in 2007 that she suffered from anorexia while starring on the soap opera Guiding Light as a teen, and she politely declines to discuss it. Wonder if she wouldn’t help her profile in Hollywood if she landed on a few more tabloid newspaper covers and she notes simply,“I want people to know me for my talent. That’s why I’m an actress and not a reality TV star.”

Clearly, this Gaither High School grad has grown a bit since we talked in 2002 about her crush on then-MTV hunk Carson Daly.

Now, the actor faces a challenge even before her latest role reaches the public. Starring in a flashback episode at 8 tonight as a teenage version of Gossip Girl matriarch Lily van der Wooden, Snow faces Snow-gossip-girl rumors that the CW has already decided against making a spinoff series based on the concept, though the official word remains that the network is undecided.

As all these rumors swirled last week, Snow and I got reacquainted over the telephone, marveling at how a girl who started as a toddler modeling in Burdines ads could land in movies opposite John Travolta and Vin Diesel before topping one of the most anticipated TV episodes this month.

Deggans: You’ve been appearing in movies like Hairspray and The Pacifier; why go back to TV?  
Snow: “It was definitely one of the biggest decisions I’d made in a long time. I do love movies and I was doing pretty well. But I felt like this was a really great opportunity to get my name out there and do something that could put me on the next level – bringing more of an awareness of who I am and what I Brittany-snow-gossip-girl-spin-off can do.

You went from playing a good girl on American Dreams to playing villains and white supremacists and hookers. Are you still fighting that good girl image?
“This is the type of character who is actually both – she starts out really sweet and naïve, and gets lost in this whole underground punk rock scene in the 1980s, becomes very rebellious and eventually closes off and becomes very controlled and uptight. It’s the best of both worlds. I get to play the sweet character that I maybe did on American Dreams and get to go to someone who's rebellious and come out as someone who’s maybe not the best person in the world.”

You were born in 1986; is it odd playing another role set in a time before you were born?
“Between American Dreams and Hairspray and this -- I never get to be in the present. The wardrobe was something that was a little scary. The shoulder pads, the polka dots, the fishnets – I can’t believe people wore this. But the ‘80s are definitely coming back. People my age are intrigued by this time period that they don’t know anything about.”

Brittany-snow-andrew-mccarthy Sometimes people seem amazed that you’re not splashed all over the gossip columns like other young stars. What’s your secret?
"I’ve been very lucky that I don’t get caught doing anything crazy and I don’t really make a spectacle of myself. I’ve always thought I’m lucky being here, I’m grateful for my career and I don’t want to do anything to jeopardize that . . . I want people to know me for my work – the shows I’ve done, the movies that I’ve done.. I don’t want them to know me or the people I’ve dated or the friends I have.”

If you could meet that 16-year-old starting American Dreams and could tell her something, what would it be?
“I would just tell myself to enjoy every minute of it. I was so young and so confused as to what was going on, I didn’t get a chance to be really grateful and just relax. I was so concerned about wanting be really good on the show, I didn’t have that many friends and I worked every day for 18 hours. I had this whole world that was just work. I wish that I could have enjoyed it a little more. I was also 16 years old. I don’t think I really knew what taking time to smell the roses really was.”

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[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:57pm]

    

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