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'Gossip Girl': Kelly Rutherford talks motherhood and why the Upper East Side is a better fit than 'Melrose Place'

October 12, 2009 | 10:41 am
Kellyrutherford On "Gossip Girl," the drama and intrigue aren't exclusive to the circle of privileged Upper East Side teens at its center. The show's two most visible parental figures, Lily Van der Woodsen and Rufus Humphrey, also get their share of screen time and scandal. Lily and Rufus' relationship, which may or may not culminate with a wedding on tonight's episode, has been watched closely since the beginning and beloved by fans just as much as Chuck's and Blair's. For Kelly Rutherford, the actress who plays Lily, the timing may be right for the couple this season.

"Neither are in a relationship at the moment and they're both going through similar things," she says. "Both of their kids are leaving the nest, so I think they can relate on a lot of levels that they couldn't before. I think they've also come together knowing that they have a child together."

Though she keeps mum about what role long-lost son Scott will play in future episodes ("I actually don't know what their plans are!" she insists) as well as the news that Serena and Eric's dad will reappear this season ("I can't wait to see who they're going to cast for that"), Rutherford does share the lessons she's learned from her character.

"What's great about how Lily is written is that you see her go through the normal process of 'Oh no, that's not what I wanted necessarily,' " she says. "You see her come around and realize that she loves her daughter and wants her to be happy. As much as you want certain things for your kids, they're here to do what they're supposed to do, and the best thing we can do [as parents] is to support that."

Citing her own mother and various female friends as inspirations for her character, Rutherford, 40, can also cull from her experience as a mother of two young children, son Hermes, who turns 3 this weekend, and 4-month-old daughter Helena.

"There are certain universal things about mothers," she says. "Sometimes mothers will embarrass you. We can all relate to that. I like that we show that mothers aren't always perfect. It's OK to say, 'I'm sorry. I didn't handle that the best way possible.' "

After undergoing a short maternity leave and a publicized divorce from her second husband, Daniel Giersch, Rutherford has thrown herself back into work. "I'm a single mother with no child support. I have to work," she says. "I also happen to love what I do and think it's a good example for kids to see their mother working. My son always says to me, 'Mommy, why do you have to go to work?' and I tell him, 'I have to be able to buy the toys.' He totally gets it."

Would Rutherford add to her workload by reprising her role as former prostitute Megan Lewis on the new "Melrose Place"? "I don't know. It depends," she says. "Hypothetically, I would have considered it."

Though she's happy to hear of Melrose's recent resurrection, she's more at home within the penthouses of the Upper East Side than the courtyards of West Hollywood. "I came on to 'Melrose' on the last three seasons of the show so I wasn't there for its instant success," Rutherford says. "With 'Gossip Girl', I was a part of its success from the beginning. I really appreciate the work and I'm much more relaxed in who I am. In a way, I'm a lot more fulfilled by what I do now than I was then."  

-- Enid Portuguez

Photo: Kelly Rutherford as Lily Van der Woodsen. Credit: the CW
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