Gossip Girl's Lyne Renée also plays a witch general on Motherland: Fort Salem

On CNET's I'm So Obsessed podcast, the Belgium-born actor shares what it's like to go from portraying a George Washington-like military leader to a real estate magnate.

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Patrick Holland has been a phone reviewer for CNET since 2016. He is a former theater director who occasionally makes short films. Patrick has an eye for photography and a passion for everything mobile. He is a colorful raconteur who will guide you through the ever-changing, fast-paced world of phones, especially the iPhone and iOS. He used to co-host CNET's I'm So Obsessed podcast and interviewed guests like Jeff Goldblum, Alfre Woodard, Stephen Merchant, Sam Jay, Edgar Wright and Roy Wood Jr.
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Patrick Holland
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Lyne Renée Motherland: Fort Salem Gossip Girl HBO Max

Lyne Renée (right) plays a witch general in the FreeForm TV show Motherland: Fort Salem.

David Bukach/Freeform TV

As I speak with actor Lyne Renée over a Zoom video call for CNET's I'm So Obsessed podcast, I'm taken aback by her thoughtfulness, passion and suaveness. She's best known for playing General Sarah Adler, a witch and military leader, on the FreeForm TV series Motherland: Fort Salem. The show takes place in an alternate reality where women run the world and witches are used to fight terrorism. Renée says her character is basically George Washington and crucial to making America what it is.

"I completely step into that world. I feel like I'm a kid who gets to play, who gets to be free and who gets to build a character that is so far away from what I am," said Renée. "She exudes this confidence and knowledge and strength. And it's proved a big challenge to sink my teeth into. I really fought for her heart."

Motherland: Fort Salem is currently in its second season, but Renée isn't taking a break. She also plays Helena Bergman, a real estate magnate, in the upcoming HBO Max reboot of Gossip Girl. Helena and her tailored designer dresses couldn't be more different than General Adler. Renée said that coming onto set was like entering a fairy tale.

Before Gossip Girl or Motherland: Fort Salem, Renée appeared in such films and shows as Wrath of Man, The Meyerowitz Stories, Madam Secretary, Here Lies and Love at First Kill. And during our conversation she discusses working with Guy Richie, painting a portrait of her co-star Benedict Cumberbatch that he actually has displayed in his house, and what it was like growing up in Belgium with a mother who was a painter.

You can watch Motherland: Fort Salem on Tuesday nights on FreeForm TV. Gossip Girl airs starting July 8 on HBO Max. You can subscribe to I'm So Obsessed on your favorite podcast app. In each episode, Connie Guglielmo or I catch up with an artist, actor or creator to learn about work, career and current obsessions.

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