Get a Little Gossip About the Van Der Woodsen Family

Find out why Connor Paolo says his character is a part of "a publicly very stupid family"

By Jennifer Arrow Feb 18, 2011 10:00 PMTags
Gossip GirlGiovanni Rufino / CW

We love it when we meet fellow TV superfans, and we love it even more when those fans actually work on the shows we're crazy about. We just talked to Connor Paolo, who plays Eric Van Der Woodsen on Gossip Girl, and he had some brilliant psychological observations about the Upper East Side characters we love.

Find out why he says that the Van Der Woodsens are "a publicly very stupid family," which character is "maniacal" and which comely blond babe actually loves living in  "situations of consistent calamity":

WANT MORE? Follow @JenniferArrow on Twitter

Q&A with Connor Paolo, Gossip Girl's Eric Van Der Woodsen

What do you think Damien's ulterior motive is?
I'm sure Damien has some plans to take over the world but not that are explored in this series. Damien is clearly someone that knows how to read a situation, and then get himself on top of that situation. The Van Der Woodsens are very powerful, and they're a publicly very stupid family. They put themselves in situations that open them up to blackmail, and they do it over and over again. So I think Damien knows that and if he can get himself in that family, he knows it can really benefit him. I think he clearly has a thing for Serena so I think that's never far from his mind. 

Shaun Mader/ Press

What do you think Serena is always changing her persona and getting into such chaotic situations?
I think whenever you try to make massive identity changes purely for the reason of "you think you're supposed to," not because they are genuine but because you're going, "I don't know, I have to change this up," or "This isn't working," and you do things the old you wouldn't do—just because the old you wouldn't do them—I don't know if it every really works for you.

You can't always be fighting your own impulses—rather than just openly fighting them—the answer is usually is to go back and try to understand why you have those impulses to begin with.

Serena's never really done that type of work, she should probably be in therapy right now or at least get a best friend who isn't maniacal. What she should have done, right at the outset when she came back, was really just gone ahead and say, "OK, everybody hates me, good. I'm going to get some real friends rather than these people."

I think it's pretty clear that she loves this. I think when people grow up in situations of consistent calamity, even if they don't enjoy it, they don't know how else to live so they seek it. They're pretty walking proof of that, whenever she has a good friend, she sabotages it because she's much more comfortable when things are messed up. 

Do you ever get frustrated by all the wild twists and turns of the show?
The show is plot-driven, not character-driven. And that's actually difficult sometimes, because the characters will change and do things for the plot, even when the character that you set up as an actor wouldn't necessarily do that. Instead you spend your time trying to find a reason, to try and find motivation for the character to do these things when in reality it's not necessarily something they would do.

Lily's on a tear this season—how does that dominant energy affect the kids?
I think everything with our mother affects us because she is such a strong force. Despite the fact that she is flaky in a lot of ways, and a little space cadet-y a lot of the time, she's a very strong woman—anything she does, has a big affect on her kids. Her stresses are their stresses, because they live in her house.

Giovanni Rufino/The CW

What can you tell us about the whereabouts of Jenny Humphrey and the whereabouts of Taylor Momsen?
Jenny is still a character on the show. She has not spontaneously combusted, so I guess she is always primed for a comeback, she could be lying in wait. We don't really know.

Absolutely I miss Taylor terribly, she's one of my dear friends, so I try to see her as much as I can, and I make it out to all the shows that I can to see her band. It's tough not having her around only just because she's one of my good friends and it's always nice to have your friends around, but she's very happy doing her music. So I'm very happy for her.

I think that Eric's relationship with Jenny was really big in terms of the way things were left. I do remember at the outset with Eric told Rufus about Chuck sleeping with Jenny and all that, that certain people don't understand why Eric would do that to Chuck, but I think in a lot of ways, that that really messed Eric up, because Chuck was somebody that he felt close to for awhile, and somebody that he felt understood him, and he came out to Chuck [early on], and that's huge.

So then to have Chuck really [take advantage] the one friend he has, that he really loved more than anyone else in his life, I think was really, really tough for Eric, and it think shows his view on a lot of things. I think without her around Eric made an effort to distance himself from everyone he was around and let them kind of fade away because it broke the last remaining trust he had. 

Gossip Girl airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on the CW. What do you think of this season so far?

PICS: Fashion Spotlight: TV's Gossip Girls