Chace Crawford talks to his parents every day, vacations with his sister and—unlike his Gossip Girl character—says dating a married woman is “a definite no.” Without question, success (he’ll star in the Footloose remake) couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. But what else is behind those blue eyes? PEOPLE’s Elizabeth Leonard and Jennifer Garcia found out.
They just cast you in Footloose. But do you actually dance?
There’s this bar in New York City on the Lower East Side called the Darkroom. They have the best music, so a lot of us will go down there and just kind of let go. I’ve got some movement!
So you won’t be taking lessons?
I’m working with a mixed martial artist a couple of hours every day, doing stretching and kickboxing, getting into gymnastics and learning the fundamentals of different dance moves. Just kind of getting a limber physique.
You were raised in Texas?
I was born in Lubbock—Buddy Holly was from there—and grew up in Dallas.
Were you into sports?
Growing up I played a lot of football. But have you seen these kids in Texas who play football?! I gave it up to play golf.
Did you ever have an awkward phase?
Totally. It was when I had braces in sixth or seventh grade. And then at one point in high school I had blonde tips in my hair. That was my absolute low point.
Were you popular with girls?
I was a little shy and would overanalyze stuff . . . maybe a bit overzealous.
What kind of car did you drive?
A black Chevy Tahoe truck. My dad gave it to me when I was 16, and so much happened in it. I can’t even tell you how emotional it was to get rid of that truck.
Your dad’s a dermatologist. Did he teach you to take care of your skin?
He never brought it up with me, but I’d come home after school with friends and my dad would be picking at the girls’ faces. He’d be like, “Oh, yeah, let me get my razor blade out,” and start slicing things off. Hilarious.
And your mom?
She’s a phenomenal cook. She makes this unbelievable chicken on rice with this sauce that’s out of this world. . . . I owe everything to my mom and dad.
What’s in your refrigerator?
Turkey sandwich meat. Wheat bread. Spicy mustard and ketchup. Stubb’s barbecue sauce, the original and the spicy. Coke. Vitaminwater. Lettuce. Peanut butter. And Bud Light.
So who has the best swimsuit body: you, Ed Westwick or Penn Badgley?
We have similar body types, but they’ve both got the Velcro patch of chest hair. I always make fun of them.
Have you ever plucked your eyebrows?
From time to time, my mom would tell me, “Your eyebrows look bushy,” and I’d say, “I know—they’re like Brillo pads!” But I just kinda let ’em go. I don’t like looking that clean.
What do you look for in a girlfriend?
It’s definitely more character- and personality-driven for me. I like a girl that keeps me on my toes. Kind of like Penny Lane [Kate Hudson‘s character in Almost Famous].
Do you go for older or younger women?
I’m actually open to both. If it works, it works.
What’s your longest relationship?
Probably my high school girlfriend. It was about 3½ years.
Do you still talk?
I know some people who believe you should be friends with your exes, but I’m not big on that. I just can’t do it.
What do you like to do on a date?
All you need is a pool table, beer, an electric jukebox and good conversation. The day a girl beats me in a game of Beirut [a kind of beer pong] is a good sign!
So you’re moving out of the apartment you shared with [Gossip Girl costar] Ed Westwick?
Frat time’s over! I’m 23; I need my own space. We lived together for about two years and were like brothers.
How’d you end up sharing a place?
We’d hung out a little while filming the pilot, and we talked about it. So I called him up when he was back in London and said, “Hey, man—do you want to do this rooming thing?” He’d never lived away from home before. I had to tell the kid how to work a laundry machine!
Tell us about your new bachelor pad.
I’ve picked out a cool couch—I’m kind of proud of myself. And I’m getting an espresso machine and I’ll have a tap put in. It’ll be Bud Light.
Are you happy being single?
I’m not not looking for a girlfriend—but I’m not particularly looking for a girlfriend, either. I’m not knocking having a relationship; at the end of the day, you want to share with someone. But I just look at it as: I have the rest of my life to do that.
Is that why things ended with you and Carrie Underwood?
I have nothing bad to say about that experience. It was awesome. I just didn’t know how to deal with it. I learned a ton about dating someone in that kind of spotlight. It was such a whirlwind, but no regrets.
It was reported you broke up with her via text message. True?
No one breaks up by text! And oh—we supposedly never talked again? I was like, what are you talking about? It was all absolutely misrepresented.
What are some other made-up rumors you’ve heard?
The crappiest one is that me and my best friend [Westwick] are having a homosexual relationship. You know what we really did the first time we heard it? Ed goes, “Oh, did you hear that rumor about us being gay?” I was like, “Yeah, man.” He starts laughing and we’re kind of like, “Okay, you want to go play pool and have a beer?”
When you’re into a girl, what little things do you do?
I like to draw and I’m pretty decent, so I’ll draw little pictures and write quotes on them. I’m romantic but I do things in a creative way.
When do you know you have something special?
I know pretty quick if a girl is more than a friend. It’s that simple magnetic attraction, where you just want to be around them constantly.
When do you think you’ll settle down?
I don’t trust myself to get married in my 20s. I don’t feel like I’m mentally there yet; right now, I’m having more fun than most 23-year-olds should be allowed to have! I’m not in any rush.
But someday . . .
I want to have a beautiful family. I love kids, so I’d probably have two, three or four, maybe live in Austin [Texas] on the lake somewhere. And we’d have a couple of dogs. I just want to be content.
Watch video from behind the scenes at Chace’s photo shoot at people.com/bachelors