Chace Crawford on Hulu's Casual and the Likelihood of a Gossip Girl Reunion
In L.A., there exists a certain brand of hipster identifiable by their penchant for ripped clothing, artisanal coffee, and long, unkempt hair. On the Jason Reitman-produced Hulu series Casual, Chace Crawford nails the stereotype to a tee as Byron, a brooding, impossibly confident student in Valerie's (Michaela Watkins) storytelling workshop who surprises his classmates with a heartfelt, Whitney Houston-inspired monologue about their short-lived romance. Here, he discusses the new role, his first on-screen sex scene, and, of course, Gossip Girl.
How did you get involved with Casual?
I had worked with Lake Bell on one of her movies last spring—a small role in What's the Point—and she was directing two episodes this season and gave me a call. I read the character breakdown and was like, "Byron. Acting class. Topknot. Perfect. Done."
Were you a big fan of the show beforehand?
I was. My girlfriend introduced me to it—I didn't know about it right when it came out. It's such a damn good show and really, really well-written and acted. I flew through the first couple of seasons.
Byron is quite the character—he's different from any other role you've played.
I love that brand of comedy. Lake told me, "It's hard to find a guy with a certain look that can play dumb in a funny way." You just meet so many of those guys out here in L.A. It's a real thing: a composite character of the uptick of man buns, deep Vs, and stupid necklaces. [Laughs] If I wasn't sold on the character description, it was definitely the monologue in the fifth episode that sealed the deal.
That monologue was something else. How did you prepare for it?
Lake gave me one note, "He's embarrassed; he's sharing this for the first time." It was really heartfelt. He really believed in that Whitney Houston song [Ed note: "The Greatest Love of All"].
Have you ever taken an acting class like that?
Oh yeah, some are a little bit over-the-top. There are guys that take themselves way too seriously—not in a good way. One time, someone called me up and left me a voicemail as a fake Hollywood producer telling me I got a movie with Charlize Theron. It could not have been more cliché. But nothing as outrageous as standing up there and having people comment on their first impressions of you.
So I take it someone's first impression of Chace would be different from Byron.
I hope so! I showed up on set after being on Gossip Girl and thought, "These people don't know me—they probably think I could absolutely be this guy." I happened to have this long, ridiculous hair at the time, too. I had never worn a man bun before, but it barely fit into this stupid topknot, to where it looked like he was growing it out just so he [Byron] could have one. The topknot was 100 percent Lake's idea, but I was really pulling for it. I would've gotten extensions if it came to it.
How did it feel to rock a topknot?
It was painful! It really was. I couldn't stop looking at it in the mirror. The hairstylist on set had to constantly retighten it. I think Michaela was trying to be nice at first, but she probably thought I was this impossible L.A. guy.
That sex scene between Byron and Michaela was pretty NSFW. Was that your first time being fully nude on camera?
Yeah, that was my first sock. I just wanted to make sure that it wasn't going to be gratuitous. It was literally the first day on set. I showed up in the morning, met Michaela, and we did that scene. Lake was so funny—she was like, "What is the rhythm here?" [Laughs]
And then Michaela dumps him via text afterward.
It's warranted when he's texting thumbs up emojis and "bb" and stuff like that. She didn't want to face it in person again. She didn't realize how deeply he cared until the night of the monologue.
I'd be remiss if I didn't ask about the probability of a Gossip Girl reunion.
It would depend on what it would be. Would it be fun to do an R-rated cable version of it? Yeah. But I don't know how you'd do the normal thing with all of us in our early thirties. It's interesting to think that Gossip Girl came before Instagram and Twitter was big—I'd be curious to see what they could do. I'd be open to hearing about it. I've been shocked with the level of response I still get from the same age group because it's on Netflix. It still sustains an afterlife.
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This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.