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Interview: Blake Lively

Photo credit : Jason Merritt/Getty Images
Interview: Blake Lively

LOS ANGELES - Blake Lively's a Gossip Girl in more ways than one.

The 23-year-old is a featured attraction in the popular teen show, Gossip Girl. And she's a convenient target for titillating tidbits of fiction and hearsay.

Besides the online nude-photo fiasco, Lively has been in the news for more benign reasons. For instance. she has been spotted with A-lister Leonardo DiCaprio recently.

That was after keeping company last year with Canadian actor Ryan Gosling, which, in turn, came after she split from Gossip Girl co-star Penn Badgley last fall.

Despite the media glare, Lively seems pleasant enough during a news conference with headliner Reynolds, promoting the film version of the DC Comics' Green Lantern.

Still, it is made clear that her personal life is off limits, whether inquiring minds want to know or not.

The superhero flick has Lively playing Carol Ferris. She's the former childhood sweetheart and current girlfriend of test pilot Hal Jordan.

But Ferris is not just a pretty face. She's an ace pilot, too, and a vice-president of the innovative Ferris Aircraft. When Jordan is selected to join the Green Lantern universal police force, Ferris provides more than just emotional support.

With his superpower ring in place, the new Green Lantern - with help from Ferris - confronts Parallax, an evil intergalactic entity focused on the destruction of Earth to unsettle the delicate balance between good and evil.

Along for the special effects-heavy ride directed by Martin Campbell is the brilliant but disturbed Dr. Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard), who is frustrated by his overbearing father, Senator Hammond (Tim Robbins).

Mark Strong plays Hal Jordan's cynical Green Lantern boss, Thaal Sinestro. Angela Bassett plays a scientist and government agent, Dr. Amanda Waller.

Combining motion capture with computer-generated effects, the action is eye-popping, while the narrative combines suspense with humour.

Evident, too, is the on-screen bond between Lively's Ferris and Reynolds' Jordan, which mirrored the off-camera connection between the two.

"You don't work on chemistry. You either have it or you don't," says Reynolds. "It's a component that has to be natural. And we definitely had a nice rapport from the start, which was nice, because it isn't always like that."

Lively agrees, adding that Reynolds "was easy to work with" and a good fit for the Green Lantern, because he can handle the complex nature of the reluctant superhero.

"He's very human," she says of Reynolds and his Hal Jordan character. "But that's (Hal Jordan's) greatest strength and his greatest weakness. I've never heard of a superhero who inherits such great power and says, 'You know what, you can give it to someone else.'"

Playing the superhero's girlfriend came with a twist, as well. And that's what enticed the actress to do her first special-effects blockbuster.

"I grew up watching these comic films, and I'd never seen one where the woman is equal to the man," Lively says of Ferris. "I mean, she's a fighter pilot, and she runs the company that (Hal Jordan) works for."

Even on set in and around New Orleans, the L.A. native was surrounded by a mostly all-male cast, but she was in her element.

"I have two brothers and two sisters, so I grew up with a ton of boys around and a ton of girls around," she says. "So, I feel like I get along with both sexes very well."

Born to actor Ernie and interior designer Elaine, Lively attended some acting classes as a child but didn't feel compelled to get into the business.

By in her junior year in high school, she was persuaded to audition for the role of Bridget in the film version of the popular book, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and surprised herself when she won the part.

The next year, she co-starred with Justin Long in the hit Accepted, and ended up agreeing to play the notorious Serena van der Woodsen in the teen melodrama, Gossip Girl.

When she returned to do the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants sequel in 2008, Lively had become the cover girl du jour.

Through all it, she remained determined to pursue roles that seem right for her, whether they were low-budget or big studio productions.

She underscored that motivation with well-received co-starring parts in 2009's The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, and last year's hard-hitting Ben Affleck crime thriller, The Town.

"My mom would always say, 'Where there's a will there's a way,' and she would make the impossible happen, always," says Lively.

The actress also dabbles in fashion, thanks to her mother. In fact, she was unofficially proclaimed New York's fashion week "It girl" in 2010.

"Fashion has always been something that I've appreciated," she says. "My mom would always make clothes for me when I was growing up."

Once she started filming Gossip Girl in New York, playing the hard-partying socialite, "I had to borrow the most beautiful clothes in the world. I feel like I'm getting to play dress-up every day now. The sad part is giving the clothes back."