New thriller questions roommate safety

The transition into your freshman year of college can be stressful, even scary. Moving away from home, being separated from your parents for the first time and meeting the stranger randomly assigned to be your roommate can all be areas of concern.

The new movie “The Roommate,” set to release Feb. 4, questions the safety of new roommates. When new college freshman Sara Weber (Minka Kelly, “Friday Night Lights”) finds her safety jeopardized by her mentally unstable roommate Rebecca Woods, played by Leighton Meester (“Gossip Girl”). Rebecca becomes unhealthily fixated on Sara and things turn deadly.

“It’s scary moving in with a stranger,” Meester said in a conference call with multiple college publications.
“The Roommate” deals with the interesting subject of living with a stranger, but people will still be able to relate, according to Meester, who said she has also had her share of bad roommates and can understand the stress of college.

In the beginning, Rebecca seems fun, friendly, even artistic, but as the movie progresses, she unravels into “a woman who sort of loses her grip on reality.” Meester did her best to maintain her role as Rebecca, but it was an “intense experience.”

The transformation into such an unstable character was difficult for Meester.

“It’s dark in the mind of someone living like this,” Meester said. “It was a quiet time for me.”

Rebecca was difficult for her to understand, especially when Meester likes to “find humanity” in the characters she plays. But when the character isn’t easy to turn off once filming subsides Meester is satisfied.

To prepare for the role of Rebecca, Meester read psychology books and talked to psychiatrists who told her stories of women who were mentally unstable. She focused on mental disorders and delusion, especially in women.

Rebecca is a very different than Meester’s character Blair Waldorf on The CW’s hit television series “Gossip Girl,” which is why it was so hard for Meester to break her down, care for and love her, like she does with Blair.

Meester said playing Blair is fun and the show is displays a heightened reality about fashion and drama, while “The Roommate” is on the opposite end of the spectrum and Rebecca is “barely hanging by a thread.” But the fact that they are different is what makes it fun for Meester.

Some parts of the movie were disturbing for Meester to film, such as one with a cute, little kitten she talked about with a nervous laugh.
“I was genuinely scared at some points,” the actor said after watching the movie herself. Meester described the thriller as jarring and disturbing, but fun and sexy at the same time.

She said she believes people can relate to the situation because it happens every day.

“You never know who you’ll be paired with,” Meester said. And that person may not always be who you think they are, which is made clear in “The Roommate.”

For more information and show times on “The Roommate,” visit “The Roommate,” directed by Christian E. Christansen and starring Leighton Meester, Minka Kelly, Alyson Michalka and Cam Gigandet, hits theaters Feb. 4.

Story by Claire Higgins