LONDON, July 13 — Evan Mock and Thomas Doherty may play ultra-rich private schoolers on the HBO reboot of Gossip Girl but both actors’ upbringing couldn’t be more different from the teens in the show.
Mock who plays Aki Menzies in the sequel to the hit series has never stepped foot in a physical classroom, having been home-schooled his whole life.
“I didn’t even graduate which my mum is not proud of, and I told her I was going to get my GED (General Educational Development Test) which I never did,” he said in a Zoom interview Malay Mail participated in.
“I never put on a school uniform ever so this has been quite the experience of high school drama because I never dealt with high school drama, out of school at least.”
Mock, a 24-year-old model who grew up on Oahu’s North Shore, was born to a Filipino mother whose grandparents left the Philippines to work in Hawaii’s sugarcane fields.
His co-star Doherty, a Scottish singer and actor who plays Max Wolfe, went to a public school in Scotland and said the experience was nothing like the fictional St Jude’s School for Boys.
“(It) was nothing like this at all, completely unrelatable,” he said of his student years compared to New York’s elites.
The 26-year-old also waited tables at an Edinburgh restaurant while auditioning for roles after graduating from the MGA Academy of Performing Arts.
“I look at 16-year-olds now and I’m like man, I was a cringe and completely outside.
“I just did normal teenage stuff whereas I feel like now everyone has grown up so quickly,” Doherty said.
The anticipated reboot takes place nearly 10 years after the original series concluded and features a new cast whose scandalous lives are documented by the omniscient Gossip Girl.
The show is updated with a more diverse cast, led by non-white actors and LGBT characters – Mock’s character is bi-curious while Doherty’s Max is pansexual.
Both actors said their characters challenged them to question their preconceived notions of sexuality and gender identity.
Other cast members include Jordan Alexander, Eli Brown, Tavi Gevinson, Emily Alyn Lind, Zion Moreno, Whitney Peak and Savannah Lee Smith.
A strong focus in the reboot is how much social media has evolved in the intervening years and its pervasive presence in young people’s lives.
“I don’t think it’s directly trying to say anything about youth culture,” Doherty said.
“With Gossip Girl, it’s very hyped, fabulous and ridiculous – these rich kids are completely detached from what we might consider normal people.”
Viewers might not be able to relate to their extravagant lifestyles but Doherty said teens and kids regardless of background will be able to resonate with the emotions, turmoils, relationships and quarrels.
“I look at the show as kind of a fantasy land because it’s so polar opposite to how I was brought up so I don’t affiliate it with being real life at all but that’s not to say they’re not addressing the real situation of today.
“I think they’re laying it out on how one per cent of the world’s lives live in high school,” Mock said.
Doherty added that the show is a testament to how much social media has changed the way young people operate although the actor, who has 4.3 million followers on Instagram is conscious of the pitfalls.
“I think (social media) is terrible, it creates these unbelievably unattainable expectations, it makes people greedy, they see it and they want more.
“Being in America, it’s fun to see what my friends and family are doing back home but for the most part, I don’t know if it’s a great thing,” he said.
Fans of the original Gossip Girl will know that the clothes worn on the show had a massive influence on fashion culture.
Just think of the headband craze Leighton Meester’s character Blair Waldorf sparked.
The reboot is just as fashionable under the discerning eye of the show’s original costume designer and stylist Eric Daman.
“The fashion has been amazing and it was amazing to have Eric on board because he knows it in and out and it was really fun to see his vision,” Doherty said.
He joked that people might shave their heads and dye it pink to look like his co-star Mock.
Mock, whose character Aki sports a rose-tinted buzz cut in the series, admitted that the show’s edgy outfits rubbed off on him too.
“The big brown canvas giant wide-legged Bottega pants – those are the ones that I wore and thought to myself I need to buy these and wear them in real life.
“Thomas probably wants the gym short and white tank top trend to start,” Mock said with a laugh.
Gossip Girl is now streaming on HBO GO.