The 32-year-old actress spoke to Porter Magazine for its upcoming issue where she details what life was like while making the teen soap.
“I was young when I started Gossip Girl,” Meester, who was 19 when she landed the role, tells the magazine. “A lot more people were suddenly around and I was being looked at. If you don’t have the right perspective, you could definitely be confused by people being that nice to you or judging you for behavior that’s typical of a 20, 21 year old… making mistakes but having to make them very publicly.”
Though she insists she’s “not haunted” by that time in her life, Meester notes that “it’s been interesting and helpful for me to look at it and examine it as an adult and go, ‘I don’t know if it was the healthiest environment.’”
While working 16 hours, five days a week certainly took its toll on the Single Parents star, Meester cites her youth as the main reason for her ambivalence towards the series.
“I would get there at 5 a.m. and leave at 8 p.m.; a lot of days I didn’t see the sun,” she says of the series, which ran for six seasons from 2007-2012. “Everyone has their own journey, especially in their early twenties when they’re just figuring out who they are. Because of the success of that show, I was put in a place where that journey was sped up.”
Leighton Meester and Adam Brody Totally 'Laugh' That Blair Waldorf and Seth Cohen Wound Up Together
She continues, “I had to figure it out quickly and with not a completely developed mind to discern between what’s real and what’s not, who I can trust and who I can’t. I got really lucky and was able to very early find and stay friends with people who are true.”
Despite everything, Meester calls her Gossip Girl years “a very special time.”
“I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s sort of a time capsule,” she says of the show, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. “A lot of the questions that come from it are: ‘Do you miss it?’ ‘Did you love what you wore?’ And I understand that, but – and I say this with nothing but love – it is like saying, ‘High school was an amazing time for you, do you wish you could go back?’ And the truth is, it was so special and such a unique, amazing experience, but no, I wouldn’t wanna go back to it, I was a kid!”
Now Meester -- who has a 3-year-old daughter, Arlo, with her husband, Adam Brody -- says she "wouldn’t change anything [in the past] because I’m happy where I am now.”
“I think that that’s one of the many wonderful parts of not only having a child and meeting your soulmate, but also I feel really lucky career-wise – really in a place that I want to be,” she says.
Last year, ET caught up with Meester, who called Gossip Girl’s frequent filming on the Met steps “kind of iconic,” before revealing that she wouldn’t rule out returning to the role.
“I don’t really hear [talk of a revival]. . . It’s hard to say,” Meester told ET at the time. “If everyone was into it and if the timing was right... I don’t want to say, ‘No, never.’”