A great bit player can be a television show’s secret weapon. I’m not talking about quirky supporting characters who are in every episode. I mean the peripheral characters who pop up occasionally and offer a counterpoint to all the main characters drama. There’s barkeep Joe on ‘Grey’s Anatomy‘ (Steven W. Bailey), foot amputating secretary Lois on ‘Mad Men’ (Crista Flanagan) and panty stealing nerd Jacob on ‘Glee‘ (Josh Sussman). They are not on often enough to wear out their welcome. Their lives are largely unexplored. Audiences are drawn to them because they want to fill in the pieces.
One of today’s most popular bit players is ‘Gossip Girl’s Dorota, played by Zuzanna Szadkowski. Blair’s (Leighton Meester) loyal housekeeper is in some ways her closest friend. Blair keeps her so busy that she seemed to no life of her own, but she has managed to find time for a romance with door man Vanya (Aaron Schwartz.) Their story happened largely off camera, on a spin off web series, ‘Chasing Dorota.’ It proved so charming that it was incorporated into the actual show. In next week’s episode (Monday 9/8c), Dorota achieves a rare honor for a bit player: an on-screen wedding. Szadowski revealed a few tidbits about the much-anticipated nuptials and explained the secrets of being a great sidekick.
What can you tell me about Dorota’s wedding?
It’s a big affair. The whole crew is involved. So it’s certainly a fantastical wedding and the first time Dorota is really glamoured out, 100%. She has a gorgeous gown that is a joint effort by Eleanor Waldorf (Margaret Colin) and Jenny Humphrey (Taylor Momsen). It’s beyond gorgeous. It’s basically this awesome hybrid wedding with Polish, and Russian traditions. The writers did a lot of research.
The ‘Chasing Dorota’ web series revealed that Dorota is a Polish countess. Will that come into play at the wedding?
We do get a little bit of the background story of Dorota. It does come into play a little bit in the wedding episode. Her background certainly affects the happenings of the wedding.
When is Dorota going to have her baby? Is it going to be a boy or a girl?
They keep us in the dark about that. That’s the exciting part. Eventually, I think the baby has to come out. But we’ll have to wait and see how that pans out. The baby is a big impetus for the wedding to take place this upcoming Monday. It’s a guest in spirit, definitely.
When you were cast as Dorota,did you realize what a major role it was going to turn out to be?
I was very excited. I had a really good feeling about being included in the project because I knew Gossip Girl was going to be a hot show. From being in the second episode I could see that it was really awesome. I hoped for the best. I had no idea that it would be such a great opportunity for me to actually be walking down the aisle on the arm of Cyrus Rose (Wallace Shawn). It certainly has been a journey. I feel crazy lucky to get a chance to play Dorota and to see her character develop and go through all these life changes.
What did you think when you met Aaron Schwartz, the actor who plays Vanya?
I thought, “You go Dorota.” Because he’s so cute and he’s a really funny and sweet character. Aaron is a really talented, incredible sweet guy too. I was very excited for Dorota that she had such a good match.
Did you realize the webisode storylines were going to be carried over onto the show?
Not necessarily. But I really like the fact that Dorota got a boyfriend and now she’s getting a husband. I think it kind of organically came out over time. But I really didn’t see the baby and the wedding coming when we did the webisodes. So that was a really cool surprise.
How is Dorota’s marriage going to impact her relationship with Blair?
For Dorota, Miss Blair is always a priority and I don’t think that changes. I know that she’s been taking care of Blair for a long time and they have a very special bond so I don’t think it’s damaged by Dorota getting a romantic life on the side.
Why is Dorota so loyal to Blair? She wasn’t always nice to Dorota.
She’s not just an employee who clocks in and clocks out. The wedding is testimony to the fact that she is actually part of the family. That’s a family kind of thing. Sometimes you’re nasty and sometimes you go out of your way to take care of somebody. I think their relationship is very realistic in that regard. I know I’ve experienced similar relationships in my life. It’s never boring between them.
Is Dorota Gossip Girl? She knows all the dirt about everyone.
I don’t know who Gossip Girl is. That’s a question I get a lot. In the last few episodes, Gossip Girl is causing trouble again.
What were some of your favorite Dorota moments?
I like when Dorota is included in family celebrations. I think that that’s important to her. I really enjoyed the Cyrus and Eleanor wedding, for example. I also love when Dorota goes on missions for Miss Blair, whenever she dons her spy gear and goes out on the town. One of my favorite scenes was ridding the Upper East Side of Georgina, which was a joint effort between Dorota and Vanya. I like when Dorota goes black ops.
She was really good at Assassin.
The excitement of all the weaponry. Dorota has an action loving streak.
Is Dorota ever tempted to attempt to build her own fortune so she can live like a Wadorf?
I think she’s come to the point in her life where the most important thing to her is the people around her. I think all of that fabulousness is a little bit silly to her. But then again she does enjoy the chance to wear a diamond ring or have her hair done for the wedding. I think she’s like any girl in that regard. She certainly likes to wear a beautiful gown but I don’t think she’s status seeking. I think she’s very happy in her position and that she chose it and she wants to be really great at what she does. Primarily what she does is take care of the Waldorf home and Blair. She’s a very happy character and very satisfied.
Who are your closest friends on the show?
I work a lot with Leigton Meester and she’s incredible. I learn so much from her and we have such a fun time making the Dorota-Blair relationship pop. I admire her. I think it’s very cool that she has this incredible music career also. During the wedding episode her new single which is called Love Is A Drug is going to be incorporated into the episode.
As an alumna of Barnard and Harvard,you undoubtedly met a lot of wealthy New Yorkers. Does ‘Gossip Girl’ get the scene right?
I definitely think so. I’ve been in New York for a while and I think Gossip Girl is a real slice of life in that regard. The Blairs and Serenas of the world are well represented.
What is the secret to playing a great sidekick character?
Dorota is a very committed person. When Blair’s upset, she’s upset. When Blair’s happy, she’s happy. I think that’s a really great quality in her. You have to play it with your whole heart. The laughs come from the details of the relationship. I think that really giving Dorota a chance to throw herself into loving Miss Blair and taking care of Miss Blair makes the whole thing work. The writers write all the funny sidekick stuff and I just have to do it.