Leighton Meester and Adam Brody Are Ready for a Very Special EXmas

All Clothing and Accessories (worn throughout) from the Cruise 2024 collection by Dior.

Leighton Meester plays characters with perseverance. There was Blair Waldorf, the determined teen queen in Gossip Girl; Rebecca, a freshman stalker in The Roommate; and Beth, a woman on a mission to solve the mystery of her murdered friend in The Weekend Away. This year, Meester is showing her range with two new movies: EXmas, a classic holiday romcom, and River Wild, an anxiety-inducing thriller in which she stars opposite her husband Adam Brody, who since appearing on The O.C., has found his calling playing the sexy bad guy in cult flicks like Jennifer’s Body. Here, the lovebirds sat down to discuss gift giving, acting methods, and what it’s like to try to kill each other on-screen.



ADAM BRODY: Hello. I’m glad we could do this.

MEESTER: Thanks for fitting me in your busy schedule. [Laughs] 

BRODY: I have some questions for you.


BRODY: Did you take a bath today?

MEESTER: That’s an important question, one that I don’t think I would want almost any other interviewer to ask me. [Laughs] But the answer is always yes. There’s no showers happening. It’s a bath. Even if it’s a short one.

BRODY: I guess I’m inclined to tell the reader things, but I don’t know if I should. It’s not my place. It’s my place to ask questions.

MEESTER: [Laughs]

BRODY: Your new movie EXmas just came out. How does it feel to enter the holiday canon?

MEESTER: You don’t have to ask these questions, by the way.

BRODY: Yeah, but I want to.

MEESTER: Just so you know, she said, “Talk about whatever you guys want.”

BRODY: Great.

MEESTER: The doorbell’s ringing. Oh, it’s our kids.

BRODY: Oh, boy.

MEESTER: We got interrupted by our children. 

BRODY: What’s your favorite holiday movie?


BRODY: What’s your second favorite?

MEESTER: Is it bad to say I don’t really have one? 

BRODY: It’s sacrilegious.

MEESTER: [Laughs] I guess we watch Home Alone frequently, not just around the holidays. 

BRODY: Home Alone is like, the best one.

MEESTER: What’s another one that’s really good?

BRODY: People like The Nightmare Before Christmas, people like Elf.

MEESTER: Those are good, too. But I like romantic comedies. I haven’t seen many romantic comedy Christmas movies, but I know they exist.

BRODY: The Holiday?


BRODY: Love, Actually?

MEESTER: I’ve never seen that either.

BRODY: As someone who professes to love romantic comedies—

MEESTER: I know.

BRODY: We’ll rewatch them. Today. 

MEESTER: I like that one that David Talbert did that we saw with him [Almost Christmas]. And then there’s The Family Stone.

BRODY: Okay. Physical comedy. Would you rather get hit or fall?

MEESTER: They’re the same.

BRODY: If you get hit enough—

MEESTER: You’re going to fall. In Single Parents, I really enjoyed an episode where I had to do a spite colonoscopy where I’m like, “If you can do a colonoscopy, I can do a colonoscopy.” Then I’m bringing around that big gallon of that milky water.

BRODY: So glugging something.

MEESTER: Glugging something and forcing it down was super fun.

BRODY: Ingesting, I guess, is a subgenre of physical comedy.

MEESTER: I also did at least one episode where I was sleuthing.

BRODY: You’re sneaking around, you’re lowering sunglasses. I love it.

MEESTER: You’re so business. 

BRODY: Me? I’m listening and I’m also looking at my questions. Would you like this to get more personal? It can.

MEESTER: No. [Laughs] This is one of the more funny things that I think we’ve ever done together. Only because of the presence of the recording device and how much we yearn to have a full conversation without interruption. It’s just hilarious that we can do this and try to cut through all the flirtation. 

BRODY: Mhmm. What’s your favorite dessert? 

MEESTER: Peach cobbler. A la mode.

BRODY: That’s crazy. That’s mine, too.

MEESTER: Yeah. Therefore, we were meant to be.

BRODY: But we always talk about how you’re chocolate and I’m vanilla.

MEESTER: I do like a brownie. 

BRODY: So we talked about Christmas films. Do you have a worst present that comes to mind?

MEESTER: No. I can’t throw anybody under the bus, but I’ll say that you give the best presents.

BRODY: Oh, very nice.

MEESTER: You don’t want anybody to know, do you? [Laughs]

BRODY: I want them to know. Tell them more.

MEESTER: Well, all the presents that you’ve given me are things that I use every single day.

BRODY: I could go either way on that being positive. I’ve literally bought you a frying pan.

MEESTER: Yeah, but we use it every single day.

BRODY: I know, but it doesn’t make it the best present. I mean, I guess, in a utilitarian way.

MEESTER: I asked for it, though. Let’s go through them. 

BRODY: You want to go through all of the home appliances?

MEESTER: You got me Vitamix and a slow cooker. The slow cooker had concert tickets in it.

BRODY: I forget what concert.

MEESTER: Fleetwood Mac.

BRODY: Sweet.

MEESTER: It was very sweet. Then all my surfing gear. You know what to get and then you handle it. 

BRODY: I’m her wetsuit and surfboard caddy. I wax the boards, too. Let’s see. Do we use the same acting technique?

MEESTER: I feel like we’re on the same page having worked together a lot. But I don’t think either of us subscribe to a specific technique.

BRODY: I agree.

MEESTER: We both went to the same acting class a long time ago.

BRODY: We did. Not together. I was older.

MEESTER: I was like 14. But what was that technique? It was just scene study, I guess?

BRODY: I remember the emphasis was on listening. Like really listening and taking in what your partner’s saying.

MEESTER: As opposed to the repetition.

BRODY: Although there were some sort of warm up games with a beanbag or something.

MEESTER: Yeah, Zip Zap Zop. Don’t you remember Zip Zap Zop with laundry baskets? 

BRODY: I don’t. I was in the kid group.

MEESTER: I’m sure. Did you ever do a Meisner class?

BRODY: Never.


BRODY: How was that?

MEESTER: Confusing. I’m sure that plenty of people would argue this, but it didn’t ever offer a breakthrough for me in actual concrete work. I’m never like, “Let me do that to warm up for a scene and then I’ll get there.” I think visualizing and making things personal is definitely good. But other than that, exercises don’t get me there. Knowing myself and trusting myself innately is the thing that carries me—as opposed to looking outside myself for a set of rules. I think that it’s within me and nobody can do it exactly the way I do it. 

BRODY: You have very deep access to your emotions. Especially sadness. If I have to be really sad in something, I deprive myself of sleep and then I’m miserable.


BRODY: Fortunately I don’t have to do it a lot, but it does make me unhappy. I’m just a little more vulnerable.

MEESTER: It’s a horrible feeling. 

BRODY: I feel like I can tap into anger pretty easily.

MEESTER: I can’t do that. I mean, I’ve been able to find it a little bit more lately. But anger is one of those things.

BRODY: It’s true. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen you fucking pissed on screen.

MEESTER: No. Have you ever seen me like that in real life? [Laughs]


MEESTER: I think if I had to, I would get there, only because there’s plenty to be angry about. I do freak out a lot about diminishing access to abortion and how fucking crazy our nation has become. 

BRODY: You’re just not a yeller.

MEESTER: You’re not a yeller either. I mean, honestly, we’re adults. Who yells? That’s insane. But then again, being able to do it on screen, that’s a different thing than being like, I’m angry and I carry anger with me. It would be uncomfortable to have that kind of anger. But when I have to access it, I certainly don’t feel like I can point to any one thing and be like, “I’m angry.” But maybe it’s just I’ve denied access to that for so long that I can’t. Is this super personal to say?

Leighton Meester

BRODY: No, it’s good. What’s your favorite cult?

MEESTER: Oh god. There’s so many good ones.

BRODY: Can I say it? I feel like we’re a NXIVM family.

MEESTER: Yeah, we are a NXIVM household.

BRODY: What do you do to pass the time on set? I know this. 

MEESTER: Well for River Wild, we were out in the wilderness, either on a boat, or on land, but we were water-adjacent. And we had no service. And it was a big long hike into whatever the set was. I was reading. It turns out you can do that and not sit on your phone. 

BRODY: Yes, yes, yes.

MEESTER: And then I like Spyfall.

BRODY: I was going to say, mainly you play Spyfall.

MEESTER: Mainly Spyfall. Or playing guitar. That’s a fun way to pass time.

BRODY: You’re no stranger to some trailer yoga.

MEESTER: Trailer yoga, positive affirmations. You’ve heard me say them. 

BRODY: I’ve heard the pregnancy ones.

MEESTER: “Natural, normal, healthy, and safe.” 

BRODY: Next question. How has motherhood changed your career? 

MEESTER: Boy, oh boy. Buckle up. There’s probably a nice canned answer for this. 

BRODY: We don’t do canned here. I want your hot take.

MEESTER: [Laughs] It’s inevitable that it’s changed it, and we’ve had these conversations endlessly. I wouldn’t change anything and I’m proud of the mom I am. But I also feel like I’m open to a lot of self-doubt and worry, and to more extreme hypervigilance and neurosis [Laughs]. So all I can do is take it a day at a time. But when I’m with my kids, our kids, I feel like all I can do is be present. Then when I’m working, I miss them like crazy. It’s hard not to feel as a mom that you’re not doing enough and I think that’s always going to be reinforced by our society. 

BRODY: Right.

MEESTER: But I think that the sweet, canned answer is, it gave me a lot of compassion, and this whole other level of appreciation for other people and a sensitivity that I don’t think I ever had before. Particularly, when it comes to children. It’s not like a regular job. You work for 3 months, nonstop, day and night, and then not at all for the rest of the time. [Laughs] It’s preferable.

BRODY: It’s pretty great. Who are some actors you look up to?

MEESTER: My favorite actors are Julianne Moore, Kate Winslet, Catherine O’Hara—

BRODY: Those are good. You share some similarities. Surprise, surprise.

MEESTER: [Laughs] Thanks, that’s nice. 

BRODY: Rom-coms or horror flicks?

MEESTER: Rom-coms. Going to bed and finding a movie with you is good because you’re like, “What about the one where someone plunges and falls on a rock and then they have to find the killer?” And I’m like, “Can’t we just watch, vacation, falling in love stuff?”

BRODY: I have no problem with cheery, peaceful thoughts. It’s just that it’s the only time we have to watch anything.

MEESTER: It’s true.

Leighton Meester

BRODY: Have you ever had a crazy fan experience?


BRODY: No? I mean—

MEESTER: What? Tell me.

BRODY: I remember you woke up in your trailer on Gossip Girl and someone was standing over you.

MEESTER: Oh yeah. That was creepy. That wasn’t a fan, it was paparazzi. But the line is very fine. 

BRODY: That is creepy.

MEESTER: I haven’t thought about that in a long time and I think I probably just chose not to think about it.

BRODY: Sorry I brought it up. That’s why you always wake up screaming.

MEESTER: [Laughs] No it’s not.

BRODY: [Laughs] I’m sure we’re done—

MEESTER: No, we’re not done. Let’s give the people what they want.

BRODY: How’d you like being on set with me for River Wild? Was it more challenging or less challenging than you thought?


BRODY: Less?

MEESTER: Less. You are the person I want to work with all the time. You’re my best friend, and the best acting partner that I could ever hope for. It was very familiar, so I felt very safe and comfortable to be doing all those pretty intense scenes. 

BRODY: Character-wise, even though neither of us stay in character, I had a little trepidation, not that much or I wouldn’t have done it—

MEESTER: Killing me? [Laughs]

BRODY: I was like, “These characters are so antagonistic, what if that carries over a bit?” Or, “What if it’s just too uncomfortable to say these things to each other, or have these feeling for each other?” But I didn’t find that to be a problem. [Laughs]


BRODY: Hit me with your dream project.

MEESTER: I like singing. So if it was something—

BRODY: Ironically, you’re not a big fan of musicals.

MEESTER: I like watching them, but I just know that my strength isn’t in the musical theater register. I think a biopic, or just in general, a character who gets to sing and record. That, and also, I want to do more theater. 

BRODY: You want to do theater, you want to sing, you want to act. But you don’t want to do a musical.

MEESTER: I don’t want to do a musical. But you know if I got the chance to do a Broadway show, “I’d be like, yeah sure I can do that.” But I don’t know. It’s a real marathon—

BRODY: Vocal marathon.

MEESTER: Like every single day, eight times a week, and hope. You have to pray you don’t lose your voice, you don’t get sick, you don’t get run down.

BRODY: You love when you lose your voice.

MEESTER: I love it. It’s psychological. Or long Covid. One or the other.

BRODY: I think we’re good. I think we’re more than good.

MEESTER: Okay. All right, great. Love you.

BRODY: Love you. 

Leighton Meester

Hair by: Amber Duarte using Oribe

Makeup by: Amber Dreadon using Dior Beauty

Nails by: Kimmie Kyees at The Wall Group

Photo Assistant: Charlie Brady

Styling Assistant: Leila Kyriacos

Production Manager: Alaura Wong

Location: Bissel House