Leighton Meester Reclaims "Tart"

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rexusa_2061415afPhoto: Carolyn Contino/BEImages.
Of Mice And Men opened on Broadway last night, boasting a star-studded cast and an equally A-list audience. Leighton Meester plays Curley's Wife in the show — a seductress role that undoubtedly requires her to channel just a touch of Blair Waldorf. Anyone familiar with Steinbeck's story — or who was fortunate enough to catch last night's performance — will remember that Curley's Wife's doesn't have a real name. Instead, she's mostly called things like "tart" and "floozy." And, while she could have taken the easy route, Meester manages to appropriate the idea of the promiscuous woman, turning it into something bigger than the labels the male cast throws her character's way.

In an interview with Newsday, the actress elaborated on what it's like to be the only woman on stage. "I never feel like the odd man out. Although that's the point — I'm the only woman," she said, though reminded reporters the director (Anna D. Shapiro) is also a woman. Therein lies both the problem and the success of Meester's portrayal of Curley's Wife. When there's just one woman in a story, her character can sometimes be representative of all women. When Newsday pointed out how Curley's Wife meets hostility whenever she enters a room, Meester noted this is true for many women — not just fictional ones. "It's part of life as most women know it. We may not be told every time we come in a room filled with men, 'Get out of here,' but...that kind of prejudice is still very alive today," she told the publication. It's that attitude that elevates Meester's character from stereotype to subversion.

As the Telegraph observes, Meester "navigates around the stereotype of 'slutty desperate housewife' to become more complex — a fragile and misunderstood catalyst for the play’s final-act tragedy." But, even if you haven't seen the play, her recent Instagram sums up her perspective. When Meester's asked to play a temptress, her response is "Who you callin' a tart?" (Newsday)

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