"I'll tell you afterwards," I reply. "There' s a forest..." I start.
We're seated at a table in the luxurious shabbiness of a hotel restaurant in New York's East Village. She orders us the oven-roasted chicken sandwich to share in lieu of her dinner date later, together with a cold mint tea (she abstains from alcohol), while I ask for a glass of pinot noir.
"Well then, how am I supposed to say if I am OK with it?" she points out. I admit I'm not quite the innocent in this scenario. I know she knows, to her credit, that it's a device I use on interviewees who, shall we put it, can be less than forthcoming on questions that reach beyond the project they're promoting that particular month.
Blake finally decides to play along and takes it all very seriously. The psychic test is little more than an amusing parlour game to coax a person to reveal their innermost thoughts on love and sex. (Did I mention it's not very scientific?) But Blake responds with pointed ambivalence. Penn Badgley, her (now ex) boyfriend and co-star on Gossip Girl, is clearly off limits and the mere mention of sex is met with the kind of stare I might expect had I just announced I'd opened a social networking account with the intention of finding a teenage bride. Sometimes, in an interview, the unspoken says more than the said.
"That was painful for you," I suggest.
"Uh huh," she nods, unusually reticent, and then smiles a wonderful smile that demands she'd rather quickly move on to safer ground. We talk about her latest film, The Town, starring and directed by Ben Affleck. For those unfamiliar with the talents of Lively beyond red-carpet sightings and the beautifully vacuous Gossip Girl, it would be worth renting out last year's minor release The Private Lives Of Pippa Lee, a brilliantly warped take on American domestic angst in which the 23 year old has a bondage scene, and more than holds her own among such luminaries as Robin Wright, Julianne Moore Winona Ryder and Maria Bello.
Without any knowledge of her Gossip Girl CV (he supposedly thought she was fresh out of acting class), Affleck was so impressed by Lively's audition that he rewrote the part of Krista, a drug-addicted single mother and ex-girlfriend of Affleck’s character, especially for her.
There's no doubt The Town, a story set in Boston's often brutal underworld, provides further proof of the common belief that Lively not only has the acting skills to make the notoriously difficult leap from teen soap to big screen, but also the ability to challenge the likes of Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman in the starlet stakes.
Despite her natural warmth and welcoming personality – she'll insist later how she prefers cooking to going out ("That's my true talent, acting pays the bills") – there's a sobriety and smartness about Lively that tells you her ambitions reach far beyond her current position, and that she's determined to control both her image and her career.
"I'm on a very commercial show so the last thing I want to do is a commercial movie," she expands. "I wanna take risks, I don't wanna play it safe. I mean, I could probably make more money if I did more commercial projects. It would be nice to buy an apartment, but I don't need to yet."
When I say surely she can afford an apartment by now, she lets out a sigh and by way of explanation reminds me, "I live in New York City. So..." She returns to the subject: "I'm able to differentiate between what I want and need, and what I want more is to do great roles." Her fiscal situation will no doubt improve in 2011 when, contradicting her stated reluctance to take the commercial route, she will appear alongside Ryan Reynolds in the sure-fire superhero blockbuster Green Lantern.
Though she's grateful for the platform Gossip Girl has given her, one gets the sense she's keen to move on. "How long are you signed for?" I ask.
"We have six-year contracts, but who knows how long TV shows ever run? They don't always go the full-term contracted...We're in season four."
Blake claims she knew the instant she read the first Gossip Girl script that "whoever does this is not going to be able to walk outside of their house". I wonder how she feels about being labelled a style icon. "I've always loved fashion," she beams, with child-like enthusiasm. "Love it!" she repeats, before adding, "That's why I don't use a stylist. Number one, it's such an expression of oneself," then regales me with the tale of how, while filming Gossip Girl in Paris, she recently got to meet a fashion hero of hers, Karl Lagerfeld.
"I was speaking with Anna Wintour," she casually name-drops the famed editor of US Vogue, "and we were just talking about different fashion houses and I said, 'I love Chanel,'and she said, 'You should come with me to the show.' I also said I loved Dior. She said 'OK, well, I'll take you to the Chanel and Dior shows and we'll meet with Karl and John [Galliano] afterwards.' So I went to dinner with Karl Lagerfeld and we got to spend a lot of priceless time together. Oh my gosh, riding around in Karl Lagerfeld's Rolls-Royce with the top down. Insane!"
Lagerfeld drove her to a sneak preview of his couture collection, featuring as its centrepiece a 40-foot statue of a golden lion. "It was like a fairytale," she gushes. "Afterwards, we went to dinner and we’re climbing back inside his Rolls-Royce and someone said to me, 'See, you're so lucky, you get to see the real Paris with the real Parisians.' And I said, 'What...? This is fairytale Paris!' It's not everyday life. I mean, I know I'll go back, but it won't be the same."
It's this mixture of wide-eyed innocence meshed with no small degree of wisdom beyond her years that makes Lively such a difficult character to describe. Born in Los Angeles, the youngest of five, her parents and siblings have always been involved in the entertainment industry. A young Lively, it's been documented, used to visit Disneyland with her mother twice a week so that the two could, in her words, "have some extra time to bond".
"Do you Google yourself?" I ask.
"No," she almost sneers at the idea. "Why? I mean, I'm with myself all of the time. Why would I want to see myself on the internet? I can look in the mirror. I think it's destructive."
Blake Lively being so much an internet invention – her name shows up over three million search results, a figure that far outshines the numbers who watch Gossip Girl – it seems only proper that I ask her about a couple of rumours that are circulating the web right now.Blake Lively Will Only Wear Size Zero (source: skinnyvscurvy.com).
Blake: "Who told you that? C'mon! I mean, I like to wear smaller size clothes than I am because it sucks you in! [Laughs.] No, you wear what fits your body. That's it with fashion. So many people wear what’s in style or what's cool. I just look at it and think, 'What looks good on me?'"Blake Lively Wants $2.5 Million To Do Playboy (source: www.celebslam.celebuzz.com).
Blake: "No, no. It's weird to me that people will just make up rumours. When someone creates a story that's not true the first thing I think of is my aunt, who I love so much and I would never want her to hear that...you know, 'My little Blakey!'"
Blake Lively Denies Engagement Rumour (source: www.starpulse.com). All she'll say about Badgley is, "At the end of the day, you're just in a relationship. How does anybody go to work every day and come home? You just do it and it either works or it doesn't." Then she reminds me of how much of a homebody she is: "I don't have very many friends that are actors, the ones that I have are people I've worked on films with for months. I don't go collecting people for my BlackBerry because I want to have phone friendships."
She offers me a lift, via her dinner date, back to my hotel. The car stops on the corner and she stuffs away the large, floppy sun hat that shields her from the prying eyes of the paparazzi. She hugs me goodbye. The car door closes behind. Out of the passenger-side window, on a busy New York street, I can just about see Blake Lively. She's smiling. Her beau, Penn Badgley, is waiting there to meet her.Note: Blake and Penn have split up since this article was published.