April 12, 2008 12:00 AM

Gossip Girl returns to the CW April 21! (Watch a promo!) But if 10 days seems like 10 too many to wait for all the drama of New York’s most glamorous — and scandalous! — Upper East Side prep schoolers, we’ve got you covered with a Gossip Girl countdown. Up first, Penn Badgley talks about what he’s been up to since the TV strike stopped production, how he’s deals with paparazzi, and living in the Big Apple. Check back every day for more on Gossip Girl.

You’ve been working on a movie. Can you tell us about it?It’s called The Stepfather with Dylan Walsh and Sela Ward. It’s about a kid coming home from military school. You know who the killer is from the get go. It’s my new stepfather. The tension in the film is more waiting to see what’s going to happen and when. You know the other shoe is gong to drop. You’re not sure how it’s going to come. It’s a different kind of thriller and horror. There’s not any crazy twist. Today’s thrillers have become very formulaic. This is bringing you back to basics.

Is your character anything like Dan on Gossip Girl?Dan is constantly talking. He rambles, he mumbles and he’s just an awkward chatterbox. This kid is much more confident. He actually doesn’t talk much at all. I don’t have many lines. I’m clocking everyone’s interactions and reacting to that. It’s been an interesting exercise in reacting. It’s very different from anything I’ve ever done before. I’m really enjoying it. We did a lot of stunts in the last couple of days. I have a lot of bumps and bruises.

What’s the best thing about being back at work at Gossip Girl?Being back in New York. That’s the greatest blessing that this show has given us. Yes, it’s a platform to other things. And it’s a lot of fun to work on. The greatest gift it’s given us is living in the city and not be a starving student. It’s incredible to be young and live here and not have to clean up your dorm room.

Is it hard to film scenes in the middle of the city, where all the fans and photographers gather?It’s the kind of show we are that brings out the fans, traffic — we constantly have to hold for planes and cars. It’s exciting. In L.A. you feel like it’s this vast desert. Wherever you’re filming it feels like this bubble. In New York, you don’t have that. It feels like you’re shooting in the city, amongst . It’s a cool feeling.

Are you getting used to being recognized?It is what it is. I don’t think it can ever get normal. Part of me is completely accustomed to it. I deal with it. But it’s strange to deal with psychologically. It’s a weird thing. It never gets old. It never is new. You acknowledge it and sometimes choose not to because you’ve got to do a scene or get home and sleep. Part of me is like, “Oh, my god!” And the other part of me is you don’t know how to react to it.

How do you deal with the paparazzi?It is a distraction. I haven’t had to deal with it so much because I just got back. But apparently on walk and talks, they’re right there behind the camera shooting. Everyone else says it’s crazy. I’m the only on who hasn’t seen it. They’ve all said it’s weird being back. … We’re going to have to ADR (audio dialogue replacement) the scenes. Go in and do the looping after with our voices because you can hear cameras clicking all the time. How can they let that happen? But you know they feed them at the craft service table. One time there were 500 watching outside the Met. There’s nothing you can do about it. It is a distraction. I can’t lie.

Do you hang out with the other guys between scenes? What do you do during your downtime?We’ll talk about movies and girls. We’ll talk about what we did last night — if we did anything together. I can’t give you specifics. Honestly, I don’t have any scenes with Chace Crawford. I don’t have many scenes with either of the guys. Most of my scenes are with the girls.

So you’re talking clothes?Absolutely, Chanel! My scenes are with Blake Lively and Taylor Momsen and Matthew Settle. I’m particularly close with them. I feel a little bit like Taylor’s older brother. Her wardrobe can be pretty scandalous sometimes and she’s 14 years old! You’ve got to remember that. The rest of us are 20, 21. You’ve got to remember that she’s a very young girl.

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