Her name may be "Lively," but actress Blake Lively insists that she's anything but.
The 21-year-old star of television's "Gossip Girl" and co-star of the "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" movies has that same, miles-long blonde hair in real life, but as she sits down for an interview at a New York hotel, she's wearing jeans and a green T-shirt that make her look like a laid-back college student, not a card-carrying member of Young Hollywood.
"I grew up with the mind set that, after work, you go to dinner and watch a movie," says Lively, who grew up in Tarzana, Calif. "I don't want to go to a club and not wear panties."
All the same, she has heard some amazing rumors about herself.
"My makeup artist on 'Gossip Girl' actually put up this full-page story on the wall of our makeup trailer," she says, dissolving in giggles. "One tabloid said that I'm really 5-foot-4 instead of 5-10, but I walk around on stilts on the show. The headline was: 'Blake Tells a Tall Tale.'
"I'm also constantly reading that I'm making out with people and it's just so not true," adds the actress, who is reportedly dating "Gossip Girl" co-star Penn Badgley. "For too many people my age, stardom becomes a way of life. For me it's just a job."
Lively's stardom comes courtesy of the CW hit "Gossip Girls," in which she plays party girl Serena van der Woodsen, a troubled-yet-cool New York socialite. Last season her character was involved in a drunken incident in which a man died. This season Serena is simply trying to maintain her friendships with the jealous and calculating young socialites around her.
"A lot of the relationships that were set up last season were misleading," Lively says. "Otherwise, everyone is dating everyone and sleeping with everyone. There's a lot of scandal. There is so much happening that even I'm shocked. I'm expecting my sister to be my father."
The new season will, needless to say, feature plenty of the show's trademark love scenes.
"The worst to film," Lively says. "I'm a shy person, so, if I'm even pretending to make out in front of a group of crew members and they're just watching and not talking ... Well, that's not exactly an easy thing."
The California native is enjoying living and working in New York, even though she doesn't get to appreciate much of the city's cultural life.
"I get up so early in the morning," she explains. "But I think of the cool job I'm doing, and that's how I wake up at 3 in the morning.
"New York City is a magical place to film and live. It's actually a character in the show. Our show wouldn't work if it wasn't in New York. I can't even describe what I love about the city, because it's so many things - the people, the streets, the stores. It just makes me warm and fuzzy."
The young actress grew up in a show-biz clan: Her mother, Elaine Lively, is a talent manager, while her father is actor/director Ernie Lively, who played her character's father in "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2" (2008). He also directed "Sandman" (1998), in which Lively made her screen debut as Trixie the Tooth Fairy.
"I never really wanted to be an actress," Lively admits. "But my dad is a great actor, and that's what got me interested. I wanted to just be around him and see how he did this work he loved. I grew to love it too."
Lively was a cheerleader, choir member and class president in high school, and thought that she was putting acting on the back burner awhile so she could go to college. Then she heard about an audition for a teen movie based on a popular book series: "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" (2005).
The young actress tried out for the role of Bridget, but wasn't sure what was required at an audition for a major Warner Bros. production. So she ran in, plopped down a photo of herself on a table and left.
Everyone was charmed.
"It was a Bridget thing to do," she says, giggling.
The film and its recent sequel brought Lively her first taste of celebrity - and, unlike "Gossip Girl," gave her a chance to be something of a teen role model.
"These are real stories and girls identify with them," Lively says. "I play a girl who runs away from her problems, and there is a lesson in that for girls who don't want to deal with life. I get a lot of letters, and that's very gratifying."
She also came away from the films with three close friends in co-stars Alexis Bledel, America Ferrera and Amber Tamblyn, who she says help keep her down-to-earth.
"In real life I don't dare to be ridiculous," Lively says. "I'd get phone calls from my 'Traveling Pants' co-stars. It would be, 'What are you doing? You're grounded!' "
"The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2" was also her strangest acting job, because it cast her real-life father as Bridget's dad, with whom she doesn't get along.
"My worst scenes in the film are with my father," Lively says. "I had to yell at him in character, which still felt so strange. I can't yell at my Dad! He gave me big teddy-bear hugs between takes."
Next year the actress will have a choice role in Rebecca Miller's drama "The Private Life of Pippa Lee," starring Robin Wright Penn, Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder.
"I play the teenage Pippa," Lively says, "and Robin is Pippa later in life, when she marries a man who moves her to a retirement home."
She has no plans to leave the small screen and concentrate entirely on movies, the actress says, because she appreciates both venues.
"With a TV show you find out what happens to your character every single week," she says, "which is fun. It's sort of this immediate gratification as the story rolls on. With a film you see an arc in two hours.
"It's actually just as interesting for me to play my character on TV. My character has many dark secrets on TV, so she's always changing. With movies it's easier to plan where you start and end on your journey, because the movie is usually a finite thing. On TV we just make it up as we go along."
And try to find time around the edges to see the people she cares about.
"It's tough not being around family and friends when I work," she says, "but you just try to make an effort to be with the people you really care about and spend time."
One thing she won't do with them, however, is sit down to watch the latest episode of "Gossip Girl."