Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

HOT GOSSIP; Chace Crawford May Play a Spoilt Manhattan Philanderer in Gossip Girl, but in Reality He Is a Chaste, Church-Going Texan Who's on the Hunt for True Love. Hermione Eyre Falls for His Southern Charm

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

HOT GOSSIP; Chace Crawford May Play a Spoilt Manhattan Philanderer in Gossip Girl, but in Reality He Is a Chaste, Church-Going Texan Who's on the Hunt for True Love. Hermione Eyre Falls for His Southern Charm

Article excerpt

Byline: Hermione Eyre

Strange things happen to young girls' faces when you mention that Chace Crawford is in town. They flush and goggle and look like they might cry from happiness. You can practically hear their little hearts beating faster. To them, he is a bona fide, scream-inducing matinee idol. To the rest of us, he's a guilty pleasure, the cherry on the TV ice-cream sundae that is Gossip Girl, the American drama series about toothsome, privileged young Manhattanites and their endless brunch dilemmas - think Edith Wharton, dressed by J Crew.

When I meet Chace, I go to shake hands but he opts for a quick hug, all clean cashmere and taut muscularity. He's so firm across the chest it's like hugging Ken, Barbie's boyfriend. His face, too, is Disney-perfect, with high-coloured cheeks and eyes that actually twinkle. As we walk to our table through Shoreditch House everyone stops eating to eyeball him. Back to your lunch, guys, he's with me.

'This place is awesome!' he says, looking out of the window innocently, affecting not to notice the attention. 'We're in London, so... I might get a pint.' He was taught to say that by his former flatmate and Gossip Girl co-star, the English actor Ed Westwick, who also has him supporting Arsenal. 'We're going to a game on Saturday,' he says. It's nice to see their friendship hasn't been affected by the rumours, spread by Perez Hilton in 2008, that they were a gay couple. Chace has since been linked with starlets including The Kills' Alison Mosshart and Twilight's Ashley Greene, though neither came to anything. 'I've come close but I've not really gone the distance. I haven't had a girlfriend for a while,' he shrugs. 'A girl who strikes a chord comes round once in a blue moon. I'm not the kind of guy to date a girl just for the sake of it. I don't need a girlfriend.'

On Chace's tanned neck I notice something suspiciously like a lovebite. 'That's from paintballing in Dallas last week.' He always gets roughed up by his school friends when he goes home to Texas. 'They remind me I'm just Chace.' Unlike the preposterously preppy Nate Archibald, the blazer-wearing dynast he plays in Gossip Girl, Chace is a down-home Texas-born boy who visited New York for the first time on a school trip aged 16. 'We just did a bunch of touristy stuff.' The next time he came back he was filming the pilot of Gossip Girl, staying at the Gramercy Park Hotel, 'going to the Rose Bar every night, shooting pool. I fell in love with the city.'

Now he is one of New York's icons, with hundreds of fans turning out to watch him filming Gossip Girl on location. Chace confesses that, playing the particularly camp, dramatically febrile scenes, he occasionally collapses into laughter. 'Like when you're walking past someone, and you have to turn and face them in this big dramatic reveal - we would just lose our shit.' Ed Westwick helps him snap out of it. 'Stop it, just stop it now,' says Chace, imitating Ed's English accent.

In the fourth series, Nate finally gets together with the other alpha character, Serena van der Woodsen, played by Blake Lively. 'Yeah, it was always going to happen at some point,' he says (he had already kissed almost every other girl in the show including Blake). 'It would either have to be Serena, or one of the moms or the other guys...'

Chace occasionally flashes a sharp sense of humour. His father is a dermatologist - did that ever come in handy? 'He would give me facewash,' he says. 'I had Botox age nine, that's when we started. And then just the occasional facelift.' Chace graduated from Trinity Christian Academy in Texas and Pepperdine University, a select college in California with a strong religious creed (he's Southern Baptist, and still goes to church 'from time to time'). He was not always a good student, he admits. 'I have quite a wild imagination, and I can draw. I'd spend a lot of time in class drawing masterpieces of the stupidest things. …

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