It's possible that if you look up the word "flawless" in the dictionary, you'll find a shiny photo of Blake Lively staring back at you (Blake might say that Beyoncé's photo would actually be there, but there's room for both). After sitting down with the actress we learned that she’s not only incredibly talented and stunning, she is also ridiculously smart and down-to-earth, and she thinks of herself as more of a dry-humored Jason Bateman type rather than the Upper East Sider Serena van der Woodsen, as many of her fans like to believe.
Now Lively is back on the big screen in something far from her usual drama or love story roles. Starring in the new oceans-are-scary thriller The Shallows, her character is quite literally fighting for her life from a great white shark lurking in the ocean around her.
We got the chance to sit down with Blake and ask her about everything you've been dying to know, and she truly did not disappoint.
Check out Blake's answers in the video below, and read on for more.
1. What's your all-time favorite look you've worn for an event or red carpet?
Blake Lively: All-time, all-time?! I don’t know, each one is different — it’s like asking your favorite Disney character! You have different favorites for different reasons. But I had a pretty fun Cannes this year. I wore this beautiful blue Vivienne Westwood gown, which felt like when you’re a little girl and you’re playing dress-up and when you go to Disneyland and you get to meet the princesses and get their autographs, and you think, I want to be them. I would give anything to wear that dress and work at Disneyland and be a Disney princess! I felt like I got to do that. And then I had this beautiful rose gold Versace dress which I loved, and then the other blue Versace dress which I didn’t realize I looked like Frozen until someone sent me an internet meme which was actually kinda funny. If only I could sing like Idina Menzel, that would’ve really been nice and full circle.
2. What do you do to stay grounded in this weird world of being famous?
BL: Well, you know, all this stuff isn’t real life. This is my job and this is what I do for a chunk of the year, but my personal life is not my professional life. So, you know, I think that’s the way that it doesn’t become you, or you don’t become it. So I have a great family, and that goes into not just my husband and my daughter, but it goes into my siblings, my nieces and nephews, my parents. And so I live a very, very normal life. And then this stuff happens and it’s weird, and sensational, and exciting, and all of that. But it’s also — I have an understanding that it’s very temporary and fleeting.
3. Everyone asked how you get your hair so flawless — what's your secret?
BL: Guest appearance. This, Rod Ortega for hair, is how I get my hair so flawless. I do not wake up like this. Only Beyoncé wakes up like that. He is my hair secret.
4. Young girls look at you as a fashion icon, but growing up who was your fashion icon?
BL: My mom was always my fashion icon. Growing up I didn’t read fashion magazines or follow celebrities, but I followed more home design, and cooking, and crafting, and every Martha Stewart magazine. I didn’t follow fashion as much, so I didn’t know the models or the celebrities of the time, but my mom is somebody who just makes anything look awesome. Like, she’ll, you know, wear this great skirt that’s actually a poncho that she turned into a skirt somehow and tied up, or she’ll take a dress and roll it down. You know, she creates things that aren’t meant to be worn the way that she wears them and it always looks really, specifically her, and I love it because it’s such a form of self-expression, you know? She doesn’t look like anyone else on the street, and that’s cool.
5. Which character that you've played do you relate to the most?
BL: I don’t think I relate to any of my characters! I played a crack addict from Boston, I’ve played an Upper East Side princess, I’ve played a blind woman, I’ve played a woman that was an incredible surfer being eaten by a shark, I’ve played a woman who’s 108 years old who’s never aged, I’ve played a great soccer player who magically fits into pants — what else have I done? I’ve played a woman who’s married to a 74-year-old Alan Arkin, I’ve played someone who’s a fighter pilot who’s with a superhero. I don’t think I’ve ever played anything like myself but I think that would be — oh, someone who’s had two boyfriends who were both drug dealers and was kidnapped by the Mexican Cartel, that doesn’t relate. So, I think that’s the safety in that, is that I never played characters that are like me. Because I think if I did I wouldn’t be able to act because it’s too much like me. The dangerous thing of being on a TV show for six years is that people have seen — we did like 127 episodes, and I lived in New York, I shared half my wardrobe with my character, I dated my co-star who I dated on the show, who then suddenly was my brother on the show which was a very strange thing that they do. But I think that that’s probably the biggest thing is that people probably think I’m a lot like that because that’s what they’ve seen the most of me, so when people really get to know me or I make jokes they’re surprised by my dry humor — I think I’m Jason Bateman with my dry humor but people think I’m Serena van der Woodsen, which is very confusing to them. But yeah, I haven’t played anything like myself.
6. What was your experience like filming The Shallows, a movie very different from your typical roles?
BL: It was fun being in a scarier, more thrilling movie. The way it was the most different though is that it was such a physical challenge. I had to train for this movie — not just because I’m in a bikini for 5 minutes, even though when you watch the trailer it looks like I’m in a bikini for a lot more — but just to keep up with it. Being in the ocean, when we weren’t in the ocean we were in a tank with 4-foot waves, 13-hour days, every day with no lunch breaks, just nonstop just trying to stay afloat and be an athlete. It was almost like training for a marathon if a marathon lasted for two months straight every day. And then also, you know, having the emotional challenge of doing an isolation, survivor, thrilling movie.
7. Did you learn how to surf for the movie or had you dabbled with it before?
BL: I did surf training just so that I looked competent and knew how to paddle right and how to grab my leash, or even wax the board right, and go from shore to jumping on the board. But all of that amazing surf was the No. 1 junior surfer in the world, Isabella Nichols. That definitely was not me carving through the waves. If it would’ve been me I would’ve been on a big long foam board with my thumbs up congratulating myself that I was even able to stand! And then falling off immediately, which is not sexy. So they had someone who is a very sexy surfer do all of that and make me look good.
8. Tell us everything about filming with CGI sharks: What was it like? Did you do your own swimming and water stunts? Was it scary?
BL: There were no scary moments because there’s not a real shark, but there were scary moments shooting the film because there are moments where I have to be pulled aggressively off the board by a shark who grabs my leg, and that’s not something you can fake because you can’t pull yourself deeply in the water. So they would have a man who would grab my ankle and jerk me down under and then hold me because it would all be one shot, and I’m fighting and struggling and writhing and trying to break free, and that’s hard to coordinate because you can’t talk to the person when they’re underwater. So they don’t know if you’re kicking at them because you’re acting, or you’re writhing because you’re actually running out of oxygen. So there were a few panic moments that I had where, you know, he was still holding onto me and I really was out of breath and really did need to get to the surface. Because also when you’re underwater you’re screaming and fighting, you’re letting go of all of your oxygen quickly, so there were some scary moments while shooting this for sure. There were moments where I got injured, I got a bloody nose, got beat up by the rock — so the scary moments weren’t the shark moments, but they were more just the variable of water.
9. What has been your favorite moment so far in 2016?
BL: My favorite moments are sort of just the moments in between. There’s no one extraordinary moment I’ve had I’ve felt like, “This is an epic moment!” My favorite moments are the moments where I’m just with my family and we’re relaxing and it’s a beautiful sunny day, and we’re eating good food and listening to nice music and just having a peaceful time to do nothing but be together. That’s a really — that’s an epic, nice moment for me.
10. What inspired your love of cooking?
BL: My love of cooking came from my love of eating. And my mom is an amazing cook, and what I love about cooking is I noticed as I was growing up — there’s five of us, I have four siblings — but that was the thing that always brought us together. Everybody was in the kitchen as my mom would cook, and you’re interacting and it’s something that touches all of the senses: it’s smell and it’s touch and it’s taste and it’s sound. And then we all came together and we’d all eat and celebrate something that we made together, that my mom made with her own hands with love to nurture her family, and there’s something really emotional and symbolic in that, you know, when you come together as a family to eat. So I really appreciated the tradition and that’s probably where it really started.
11. What inspires and motivates you? How have you beat a slump in motivation in the past?
BL: My family inspires me. They motivate me because I want to succeed for them. I want to pave the way in the same way my mom and dad paved the way for me and my siblings, and they set a great example for us both as people, as parents, as professionals. I want to be able to do that for my family, I want to be able to leave a personal legacy that I’m proud of.
You know, everybody faces their different slumps, whether they’re small ones or bigger ones, and you just keep going because you just sort of don’t have an option not to. But for me it’s about surrounding myself with people that really know me and really love me and understand me. So I have a really great support system of true friends, and most of those friends are my family, and those that aren’t blood family are my family because we’re such good friends. So I have a very small group of friends, but they’ve been there and they’re tried and true and they help keep me grounded and sane and secure.
12. Which celebrity makes you fangirl the most?
BL: Dolly Parton. And Ralph Fiennes. I’m a Harry Potter fan, and a Ralph Fiennes fan in general. I mean just everything he's in — Grand Budapest Hotel, he’s so good in that movie! And Dolly, I mean, she’s just the coolest human being alive.
13. If you could dye your hair any color, what color would you dye it and why?
BL: Well, I've down Brown, or "Bronde." And I've done red. I think red was my favorite. I mean I'm very much a blonde through and through, but I had a lot of fun with my red hair color.
14. What's the craziest adventure you've ever been on in your life, or most recently in the past few years?
BL: Probably diving with great white sharks. That was pretty insane; that was pretty crazy. I went cage diving with great white sharks and conservationists and we got to study the sharks and sort of see them in their habitat, and there was something really special about that because movies villainize sharks, because it’s so much fun to watch a movie with a great monster, especially when the monster is something that exists in real life. But it is heightened reality — they portray a shark as these man-eating machines who are hunting human beings. I learned this fact that more people die from selfies or deer than they do from sharks. But that doesn’t make a scary movie like a shark does with all of those crazy teeth. So getting to see them as they truly are, in their environment and swimming around and studying the beauty of them, it was so eye-opening. Because you know you want to protect those creatures, they’re at the top of the food chain, and if we get rid of them the domino effects are really scary. And to force any creature into extinction is awful. So yeah, that was really scary and adventurous, and after I did it I thought, Oh, it’s not as scary as I thought. It’s just, our perception is so off of these creatures that it seems scarier than it was.