When Gossip Girl premiered in The CW in 2007, it was an instant hit among teenagers everywhere. The popularity of the show grew and it soon became clear that co-stars Penn Badgley (alias Lonely Boy, alias Dan Humphrey) and Blake Lively (alias the Serena van der Woodsen) were dating in real life – just like their characters. Talk about fate, huh?
Of course, as the fans now know, in the end it didn’t work out between the duo, who broke up in 2010. But their love story will live on in Gossip Girl history forever, especially since – very late spoiler alert – Dan and Serena end up together at the end of the series. So let’s look back at Badgley and Lively’s on-screen-turned-off-screen romance, but also at what happened after they stopped it.
Penn Badgley and Blake Lively originally wanted to keep their romance under wraps
While Blake Lively and Penn began dating Badgley in 2007, they did their best to keep their relationship low – but soon the truth came out. When asked about the rumors of romance in early 2008, Blake Lively insisted they were just friends and said to people, “Everyone is always trying to dig into your personal life or create things that aren’t there… It’s stupid.” And in Vanity Fair’s ten-year Gossip Girl anniversary piece, the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants alum declared that first privacy.
“I remember there was a point where we were just afraid that our personal life would overlap our working life,” Blake Lively told the magazine. “But then we were like, “Oh no, that’s exactly what they want. They wanted us all to date… because then it fed their whole story. People could buy themselves into this world.” She went on to explain how the two worlds blended; because she was wearing the same outfits on the set and travelling, fans wouldn’t even be able to see if paparazzi photos of Lively and Badgley were coming out of the show together or their real-life romance. Still, she clarified to VF, “At the time, what was increased was, wow, it all looks similar from the outside, but it’s so different on the inside. It’s unclear what exactly was “so different”, but given that they’re not their IRL characters, it makes sense.
They kept their breakup a secret at first, too
Not all love stories last forever and in 2010 Blake Lively and Penn Badgley’s came to an end. According to E! News, the couple may have been driven apart in promoting separate projects – Badgley was starring next to Emma Stone in Easy A, while Blake Lively was in The Town with Ben Affleck.
However, they hid their split from the Gossip Girl cast and crew at first. As co-producer and writer Joshua Safran recalled Vanity Fair, “The shocking thing was, I found on the set of the Season 2 finals that Blake and Penn had broken up months before… They kept it hidden from everyone, which testifies to how good they are as actors. Because they didn’t want their personal drama to relate to the show.” They really didn’t let personal drama get in the way, given that Chase Crawford reflected that sentiment in Watch What Happens Live in August 2019. According to Elle, Crawford described the exes as “the most mature people in the world” during WWHL.
Penn Badgley called Blake Lively his “best” on-screen kiss… and his “worst”
When Penn Badgley appeared on Watch What Happens Live in March 2015, an interesting piece about his relationship with Blake Lively came to light. According to Us Weekly, Badgley was asked to arrange his on-screen kisses. While the YOU star made it clear that on-screen kisses aren’t “real”, Badgley Lively chose his best kiss because they were “actually in a relationship at the time”. But when it came time to choose the worst, he also said, “Maybe Blake broke up with him.”
In the end, however, his comments about working together after breaking up reflect what his co-star and producer said. Badgley explained at WWHL: “We were completely professional. And I think we both have to pat ourselves on the back to get through it… We handled it.” In the same way, he opened up about the split in an interview with Elle in 2013. Badgley said to the magazine: “We were very much under the spell of the show, which itself was a six-year endurance test. Our relationship was part of it and helped us through it. I mean, like anything valuable, it was good and it was bad and it was an educational experience”. He also revealed in that interview that he wrote a song for every woman he dated, but he refused to share any lyrics.