Thomas Doherty Recalls His Life Before Landing Gossip Girl
Before he got into performing, Thomas Doherty dabbled in the odd job or five. He delivered papers, answered phones at a call center, sold clothes at both TJ Maxx and Hollister, bartended, and, in his native Edinburgh, joined a group of Polish women for a brief stint as a housekeeper. The 25-year-old actor finally found his calling when he was cast in the Disney Channel series The Lodge and then in the popular Descendants franchise. This summer, he’ll take on the role of Max Wolfe in the ultra-secretive HBO Max reboot of Gossip Girl.
ERNESTO MACIAS: How’s it going, Thomas?
THOMAS DOHERTY: It’s good. What’s been happening?
MACIAS: Where are you calling me from?
DOHERTY: I’m in New York right now.
MACIAS: Tell me how did you get into acting.
DOHERTY: I feel I always loved doing acting. When I was younger, I think I was really annoying for my mom, so she sent me to an acting college because I was really hyperactive. And then I just started to fall in love with it. I did a lot of musical theater and it grew from there.
MACIAS: So you were definitely a theater kid growing up—was there any particular play that you were part of that you remember fondly?
DOHERTY: Do you remember the musical Spring Awakening?
DOHERTY: I did that when I was 18 and I absolutely adored it. I actually tried to do it at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, but it didn’t really work out. That’s definitely something that I’d do in a heartbeat. I might be too old now though, fuck.
MACIAS: You’re only 25.
DOHERTY: 26 in two months.
MACIAS: When did you know that acting was going to be your career path?
DOHERTY: Honestly, it was kind of accidental. It just kind of happened. I went to college and I did acting there, I got an agent and then I worked in restaurants.
MACIAS: It was meant to be.
DOHERTY: It was meant to be, exactly.
MACIAS: Besides acting, what other jobs have you had?
DOHERTY: I’ve done loads of jobs. I used to be a paperboy and then I worked in a call center, I worked in TJ Maxx and American Hollister. I was also a maid for a while.
MACIAS: In New York or back home?
DOHERTY: No, in Edinburgh. It was really funny because it was all these like 50-plus Polish women who were the other maids and I was 17.
MACIAS: How long did you do that for?
DOHERTY: It was really not interesting. It was the worst thing and I used to get fucked up on a Friday and I’d be working on a Saturday. I used to have to clean all these rooms and beds—so I used to go for a sleep. When I was cleaning the rooms, I’d give myself like five minutes in each room to sleep. No one would hire me because I didn’t have any experience in a bar. And I was like, “I know where I’ll get a job.” So I started working in a gay bar.
MACIAS: And how was that?
DOHERTY: It was fucking great. I loved it. It was so good. Good music, loads of tips. Can’t complain.
MACIAS: Amazing. Now you’re going to be in the Gossip Girl reboot. Were you a fan of the original?
DOHERTY: No, I never watched it. I think an old girlfriend was obsessed with it and so I think I watched the last couple of episodes. But weirdly, I was filming in Georgia in 2019 and I was quite bored in my hotel so I started watching Gossip Girl. It was really good.
MACIAS: Is there any particular character that jumped out at you from the original one after watching it?
DOHERTY: I liked the brown-haired one. What’s her name?
MACIAS: Oh, Blair Waldorf.
DOHERTY: I thought she was class. And obviously Chuck. I mean, come on.
MACIAS: Fashion plays such a huge part of the show, do you have a relationship to clothes or fashion? How would you describe that?
DOHERTY: I wear them. I don’t know if I kind of care for them too much. I like clothes. It’s just too much now. There’s too many clothes. It’s like a season every week. It’s too hard to keep up. What I really love right now is what Harry Styles is wearing.
MACIAS: I know you were in a few Disney Channel productions and series. Did you watch Disney growing up?
DOHERTY: No. I only had four channels on my TV when I was growing up so we didn’t have Disney, but I had all the Disney movies—The Aristocats and Hercules, which was fun. So when I got it, it was cool and everyone kept going on about how cool it was but I just didn’t have any perspective on it.
MACIAS: What do you do when you’re not working?
DOHERTY: That’s an interesting question. I kind of like to read and I just moved into an apartment so I have to decorate which is fun.
MACIAS: Are you doing it by yourself or with help?
DOHERTY: I’m doing it by myself. I just started working on it again.
MACIAS: Do you have any tattoos?
DOHERTY: I do. I’ve got a couple.
MACIAS: How many, exactly?
DOHERTY: I think I’ve got eleven tattoos.
MACIAS: Which one’s your favorite?
DOHERTY: I just got a La La Land tattoo. That’s my favorite. I got the poster of them dancing together. I actually watched it last night
Grooming: Melissa Dezarate using Leonor Greyl at The Wall Group
Fashion Assistant: Tonya Huynh