Gossip Girl invited fans into a world of high fashion, insane privilege, housekeepers, doormen, limos, private jets, and social climbing of the highest order. The blessings these Upper East Side teenagers enjoyed may have made fans jealous from time to time, but that didn’t stop them from falling in love with the characters and feeling every high and low they experienced.
Though the show’s last episode aired in 2012, these spoiled and hilarious van der Woodsens, Waldorfs, Basses, Humphreys, and Archibalds still feel like family to fans.
The cast members who brought the show to life did such an impressive job of making it all seem real that it’s hard to think of them as simply actors. It’s easy to forget that they’re not really children of billionaires or Manhattan it-girls, but simply talented professionals with lives that are mostly different from those their characters lead.
But there’s a lot that even the biggest fans don’t know about the cast of Gossip Girl. From relationships shared between the co-stars to real-life personal battles and their honest thoughts on the show and the characters they played, much was kept under wraps during filming.
Keep reading to find out 20 little-known details about the cast of this iconic show.
20 Blake Lively And Penn Badgley Had Always Known Each Other
Blake Lively and Penn Badgley, who portrayed on-again-off-again lovers Serena van der Woodsen and Dan Humphrey, respectively, made for one iconic couple. And that was on and off the screen. But unlike their characters, they didn’t meet on the streets of New York, or on the GG set for that matter.
Long before their days on the Upper East Side, these two were homeschooled together as children.
They didn’t start dating, however, until 2007. Lively is a proud California gal, while Badgley was born in Baltimore but relocated to Hollywood at the age of eleven to pursue a profession in entertainment.
19 Penn Badgley Didn’t Enjoy Playing Dan
Playing Dan wasn’t Badgley’s favorite thing to do, and he’s been pretty honest about that. “I look at Gossip Girl as an endurance test of all kinds,” he revealed to The Guardian in 2013. He also made his feelings clear on that same press tour, where he was promoting the movie Greetings from Tim Buckley. He said, “To be proud of something is a really nice feeling … And it’s a new feeling, and it’s something that I wanna keep going with. I can walk a little taller feeling that I don’t have to be constantly apologizing for the work that I’ve done in the past.” No sugar-coating here!
18 And Blake Lively Didn’t Really Relate To Her Character
Lively hasn’t necessarily made any digs at GG, but since becoming a huge movie star, she’s opened up about how little like Serena she actually is. “People loved it, but it always felt a little personally compromising—you want to be putting a better message out there,” she said to Allure in 2015.
“It’s a weird thing when people feel like they know you really well, and they don’t … I would not be proud to be [Serena].”
Though she’s nothing like the Manhattan party girl, Lively is grateful to the show for giving her a huge platform.
17 Fans Really Chose Blake Lively For Serena
How did Lively go from California girl to the it-girl of the Upper East Side? According to the producers of the show, it was all because of fans of the books. They decided to seek her out for the coveted role because the hardcore fans of the GG books had fantasy-cast her in the role on online message boards. “We didn’t see a lot of other girls for Serena,” said producer Josh Schwartz. “She has to be somebody that you believe would be sitting in the front row at Fashion Week eventually.” The producers approached her, but Lively wasn’t interested at first. More on that below!
16 And She Was Tricked Into Accepting The Role
You could almost say that Lively was tricked by the producers into taking the role of Serena. Her initial response was that she was to decline in favor of college.
So the producers told her that she’d be able to go to college after one year of doing GG when things had “quieted down” a little.
Ha! But the producers didn’t put it in writing that Lively could go to college after a year of playing Serena, and out of this experience, she learned a valuable lesson: “This is advice to anyone. When they say, ‘We promise, but we can’t put it in writing,’ there’s a reason they can’t put it in writing.”
15 Matthew Settle Was In A Rock Band In Real Life
Matthew Settle played Dan’s hunky dad Rufus Humphrey, who was a rock star in the '90s. Interestingly enough, Settle was also once part of a rock band. Unfortunately, Settle’s band didn’t have quite as much success as Rufus’s, and they parted ways shortly after forming in New York City. The rest of Settle’s life is pretty different from his character’s, though. He grew up in a deeply religious family in Hickory, North Carolina. His father was a minister of the Baptist church, and his mother was the church organist. Settle’s first job was selling Gospel records in Sevierville, Tennessee.
14 So Was Ed Westwick
Picturing Matthew Settle in a rock band is easy, but imagining Ed Westwick in the same way is a little trickier.
The character of Chuck Bass leaves such a strong impression that it’s nearly impossible to visualize the actor as doing anything else!
But in actual fact, Westwick was a member of a band in England which was formed in 2006. Inspired by the Rolling Stones, Kings of Leon, and The Doors, the band was more punk than rock. Some of their songs, including "Come Flash All You Ladies" and "Orange," were featured on the show.
13 Leighton Meester’s Family Situation Was Totally Different From Blair’s
Leighton Meester brought the spoiled and conniving Blair Waldorf to life, but it doesn’t seem like she used any inspiration from her own past to do it. Unlike the Princess of the Upper East Side, Meester comes from an underprivileged background. She was born while both her parents were doing time, and was nursed in a halfway house during the first three months of her life. After bursting onto the Hollywood scene, Meester began sending money to support her younger brother but found out that her mother was using those funds for her own cosmetic procedures. This led Meester to file a suit against her mom.
12 Kelly Rutherford Had A Real-Life Custody Battle For Her Children
Meester isn’t the only GG cast member whose real life looks different from the glamor portrayed on the show.
While working on GG, Kelly Rutherford, who played Serena’s stylish mama Lily, became entangled in a vicious custody battle for her two children.
She and ex-husband, businessman Daniel Giersch, divorced in 2010 and he returned to live in Europe. Courts in the United States and Europe became involved in deciding where the children would live, and as Giersch lost his US visa, it was concluded that the children should live with their father abroad. Rutherford wound up spending millions trying to have the ruling reversed.
11 Blake Lively And Leighton Meester Were Friendly, But Not Friends
Another key difference between the show and the real world? Serena and Blair are BFFs (although they spend a lot of time fighting) in the world of GG, but Lively and Meester weren’t as close. For the duration of filming, rumors circulated that the two were stuck in a feud, but the producers and other cast members have squashed those rumors. That said, it has been revealed that while the girls weren’t enemies, they weren’t friends either. “Blake and Leighton were not friends,” said co-producer Joshua Safran. “They were friendly, but they were not friends like Serena and Blair.”
10 Ed Westwick And Chace Crawford Really Were BFFs
Unlike the female leads on the show, the boys of the Upper East Side really were tight in real life.
While playing long-time friends Chuck Bass and Nate Archibald, Westwick and Chace Crawford were actually roommates in New York City.
They lived together in an apartment in Chelsea when the show began filming. One of their first outings as friends was an Arctic Monkeys concert, where they were confronted by hordes of female fans. “We had these girls coming up to us, and they were kind of freaking out about it. ‘Oh, we love the books,’” recalled Crawford.
9 Taylor Momsen’s Real Life Transformation Inspired Jenny Humphrey’s Character Arc
If you watch Jenny Humphrey in the first season, and then Jenny Humphrey in later seasons, there’s a huge difference marked with a lot of eyeliner. Little J goes through quite a transformation from innocent little sister to corrupted bad girl, and according to casting director David Rapport, nobody saw it coming. Jenny wasn’t planned to change so much but had to in order to keep up with Taylor Momsen’s real-life transformation. “We were looking for a girl who was on the brink of becoming a woman,” said David. “I don’t think we saw that goth side yet …”
8 Originally, Chace Crawford Didn’t Think Leighton Meester Would Make A Good Blair
Now it’s impossible to imagine anyone but Leighton Meester playing Blair. But when Crawford first met his future co-star, he just didn’t see it. “[I thought] I just don’t see Blair Waldorf. I can’t see it.”
Aside from being a blonde in real life, Meester is also bubbly, hilarious and a far cry from the manipulative and vindictive daughter of a Manhattan fashion designer.
But as soon as Meester turned “slyly in her chair," put on Blair’s iconic headband and got into character, Crawford was sold. “I just remember thinking, ‘That girl can act. She’s the perfect girl for this.’”
7 Michelle Trachtenberg Was Almost Going To Play Another Iconic Character
Georgina Sparks wasn’t a main character, but she certainly left a big imprint. There are few fans who don’t have an opinion (whether positive or negative) on the resident troublemaker of the show. Georgina was brilliantly played by Michelle Trachtenberg, who was almost cast in another iconic role that probably would have left her unable to work on GG. Catherine Hardwicke, the director of 2008’s Twilight, wanted Trachtenberg before any other actress for the role of Bella Swan. Due to scheduling conflicts, however, Trachtenberg was unable to accept the role, leaving her free to keep playing Georgina throughout the series.
6 Taylor Momsen Was Put On Indefinite Hiatus From The Show
As the series progressed, Jenny’s storylines shrunk and became less significant, until she lost her position as a regular character. Eventually, she totally disappeared, only returning for a brief appearance here and there.
This is because Momsen was apparently put on “indefinite hiatus” from the show.
Many fans believe that this was so she could focus on her music with her band The Pretty Reckless, which was not featured on GG (unlike music from Meester and Westwick). Project Runway mentor Tim Gunn revealed, however, that working with Momsen during his guest appearance on GG was like “being held hostage."
5 Ed Westwick Was Too Intimidating To Play Nate
Originally, Westwick was interested in playing Nate. The producers, however, believed his look was too intense to play a character as pure as Nate, and he was much better suited to playing Blair’s equally conniving and manipulative soulmate, Chuck Bass. It was probably a good decision in hindsight since Westwick’s chemistry with Meester became one of the biggest reasons to watch the show. In order to portray the son of a Manhattan billionaire, Westwick modeled his US accent on Carlton Banks from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. But he used his regular British accent in the audition and won the part anyway.
4 Male Fans Confessed To Zuzanna Szadkowski That They Watched The Show To Get Girls
We totally consider Blair’s housekeeper Dorota to be a main character!
Actress Zuzanna Szadkowski revealed that male fans of the show would approach her and confess that the only reason they watched was to have something to talk to girls about.
“A guy coming up to me who had a suit and briefcase, this total Wall Street Guy, and he was all like, ‘Oh my god, Dorota!’” said Szadkowski. “He told me—and a couple of other guys have told me this, too—that they used to watch the show because it was a great way in with the ladies.”
3 The Whole Cast Was Pretty Much Involved In The Real World Too
Lively once admitted that the producers actually encouraged the stars of the show to date, because it made the whole GG world seem much more real to fans. Fair! She and Badgley were probably the most publicized couple to come out of the show, but almost all the main cast members were involved with each other at one point or another. Westwick and Jessica Szohr, who played Dan’s BFF Vanessa, were a couple, as were Meester and Sebastian Stan, who played bad boy and Chuck’s nemesis Carter Baizen. Even Settle and Rutherford were reported to have a brief relationship.
2 Blake Lively And Penn Badgley Kept Their Breakup Hidden From The Producers
Since Lively and Badgley were perhaps the most prolific of the real-life GG cast member couples, they knew their break up would also be the most upsetting.
When they did finally part ways, they decided to keep it concealed from the producers.
Nobody on the set found out for months. “The thing was,” said Safran. “I found out on the set of the season two finale ... They kept the breakup hidden from the crew, which you could never do now. I don’t even know how they did it. They kept it from everybody, which is a testament to how good they are as actors.”
1 A Few Cast Members Are Open To A Reunion
Are the days of GG over? We may be lucky enough for a reunion, according to a few of the cast members. Both Lively and Meester are up for it. “ … it’s hard to say,” said Meester. “If everyone was into it and if the timing was right, you know? I don’t want to say, ‘No never …’” Lively seemed even more optimistic about a possible reunion. “Of course. I’m open to anything that’s good … I can’t speak for anyone else, but we all owe so much to this show, and I think that it would be silly not to acknowledge that.” Here's hoping, Upper East Siders!
Sources: Elle, E Online, Harper's Bazaar