Connor Paolo Discusses Eric van der Woodsen
We've said it before but we'll say it again - what a great episode!
In "All About My Brother," Georgina Sparks (Michelle Trachtenberg) outed Eric Van der Woodsen (Connor Paolo) at the dinner table, and threw us for a loop - but then she one-upped herself by blackmailing his sister, Serena (Blake Lively), threatening to reveal their dark secret.
Pushed to her limits, Serena confided in her friend Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester) and revealed a truth more shocking than a sex tape.
"I killed someone," she said.
Gulp. Looks like Serena's in for a rough stretch.
As for Eric, maybe he can rest easy now that he's come out. In an interview with People, Connor Paolo, 17, talks about what's next.
People: How does it feel to be playing a gay character on a popular TV show?
Connor Paolo: I'm an actor and it's a part. Being gay is nothing but another way to live your life. It's just who he is.
People: A lot of gay teens will be excited to see someone gay on the show. Are you ready for that?
Connor Paolo: I guess it's a possibility that fans could take Eric's coming into his own as a source of inspiration. He does it with a degree of gentility and self-respect. He doesn't make apologies for who he is.
People: Did the fact that he tried to kill himself earlier have anything to do with being gay?
Connor Paolo: As the actor portraying Eric, I don't believe that I tried to commit suicide because of that. Eric is 14 so his decision to be gay could be permanent. It might not be. It's about finding yourself. At the moment, this is who he sees himself as that's very empowering.
People: How will the news play out in the next few episodes?
Connor Paolo: My issues get swept under the rug in the face of Georgina. She has information about my family that no one else is privy to. Dealing with Georgina becomes the main focus because things become very, very hairy.
People: How will the other characters react to the news? Everyone okay with it?
Connor Paolo: Each character has their own reaction. It does seem to create a rift between me and Jenny. Chuck steps up as big brother though.
People: So this brings out the nicer side of Chuck Bass?
Connor Paolo: Eric's relationship with Chuck is a vehicle for seeing that he does have a good side. He can be a good person when duty calls. Chuck (Ed Westwick) seems to really care about Eric. It's a time when Eric feels very alone. Chuck does not push him away as many other people are inclined to do. Eric gets to have a good time with Chuck. Most people have been coddling him because they think he's a suicide risk, Chuck is totally open to let Eric enjoy his life rather than try to preserve it.
People: But there are going to be some intense discussions about the fact he's gay, right?
Connor Paolo: Is there ever a Gossip Girl [episode] without them?
People: When did you find out your character was gay?
Connor Paolo: I was told about a month ago. Two of the producers explained the situation. It seemed like a good thing. Up to this point, I've had a volatile role on the show. Sometimes, I'm there. Sometimes, I'm not. It's the producers giving me more screen time and a chance to prove myself as an actor so I wanted to make sure I delivered.
People: Did you have to keep it a secret?
Connor Paolo: We tried to keep it under wraps as long as possible.
People: How did that go?
Connor Paolo: Pretty well, actually. The cast has as much to lose by secrets getting out. There'd been a lot of conjecture but no real facts had been slipped.
People: What helped you prepare for this episode?
Connor Paolo: I feel like I know Eric better than most people so I drew on my knowledge of the character. I did have some conversations with Stephanie [Savage, the executive producer] and Joe [Lazarov, also a producer] working out the ins and outs of how this developed.