In the upcoming A Simple Favour (in cinemas Sept. 20), she plays glamorous wife and mother Emily Nelson, whose disappearance turns the world of her mummy-blogger best friend, Stephanie (Anna Kendrick), upside down.
“It was always like jumping without a net—that is what it felt like,” Lively says of making the twisty thriller.
In a wide-ranging chat with WHO, Lively clarifies how unlikely splitting with “best friend” Reynolds is, whether the two will appear onscreen together again, and how he has taught her to swear
You and Ryan are great at making fun of each other on social media. Who started it?
It was just sort of an organic thing. I don’t know where or why or when it happened. But all day long we are just taking the piss out of each other because that’s my best friend. And I always win ... I am not competitive at all! [Laughs]
Do you two plan to work together again or do you both actively avoid it?
Well, we have done our greatest work together—our family—and that is the work I am the most proud of. Maybe one day, there is nobody I would love to work with more than him. But I would also have the hardest time working around him because I don’t really care what other people think but I really care what he thinks and so I would be really nervous to act around him. I just want him to think I’m awesome and not ever find out that I am not.
When you look back at your time on Gossip Girl, how would you describe that experience?
Gossip Girl was a cultural phenomenon. Most TV shows you make for three weeks and take a break for a week but we were doing 27 episodes a year, shooting three episodes at once and getting our lines at the last minute and having 18 costume changes an episode and working 16 to 18 hour days! It wasn’t doing Shakespeare’s Coriolanus at the Donmar Warehouse theatre company, where you were rehearsing and you build a character.
But without [Gossip Girl], I wouldn’t be able to improvise like I did in [A Simple Favour]. You had to be on your toes and adapt. You had to be able to learn five or six pages of dialogue 10 minutes before shooting. I’m not saying, “Oh, this is my greatest work as an actor,” but it was a totally different type of boot camp. I appreciate every single experience I had because I learned from all of them.
Speaking of improvising, you came up with some mean things to say in A Simple Favour and have a bit of a potty mouth. How easy was that?
I think I am maybe too nice most of the time, which is probably why I could come up with so many mean lines—like all the things I may be filtering in life. But [the] more racy lines, I think, come from the fact that my mum doesn’t swear. I remember I said to my friend once something about cussing and I said, “Oh, I cuss,” and she responded, “Anyone who uses the word ‘cuss’ has never said ‘f--k!’ ” And that’s probably true. For me, it’s really the shock value you get out of saying racy words, and it’s more potent for me because I grew up in a family where you just never heard those words. “Damn” and “hell” were considered bad words, and I thought my parents were getting a divorce when my mum called my dad a jackass once—the only swear word I ever heard!
Read the full interview in this week's issue of WHO, on sale now.