Penn Badgley Revealed How His Relationship with Blake Lively “Saved” Him

The actor has also shared how much of a non-issue it was to work with Blake on ‘Gossip Girl’ after their breakup.


Mar. 5 2024, Published 5:59 p.m. ET

Blake Lively and Penn Badgley smiling for the camera at a Met Gala afterparty in 2008
Source: Getty Images

Former co-stars Penn Badgley and Blake Lively didn’t have a long relationship, but it sounds like it was an impactful one. In a recent interview, Penn said that Blake “saved” him during a dark time in his life.

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The actor’s Gossip Girl era was “fun and fast-paced,” but he also experienced a “dark undercurrent” that bottomed out in his late 20s, he told Variety for a February 2023 profile. And it was Blake, a costar on the CW teen drama, who kept him from struggling with substances, he said. “Blake didn’t drink, and I think our relationship in some ways saved me from forcing myself to go down that road,” he added.

Here’s what we know about Blake and Penn’s romance and subsequent working relationship.

Blake Lively and Penn Badgley reportedly started dating in 2007.

Blake and Penn reportedly started dating in 2007, per E! News, but in a January 2008 interview with People, Blake seemed to dismiss the relationship rumors about the duo.

“Everybody always tries to dig into your personal life or create things that aren’t there. … It’s silly,” she told the magazine. “Any male friend is obviously a ‘romance alert’ [for the media], but I’ve always been friends with boys my whole life.”

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Penn Badgley and Blake Lively filming 'Gossip Girl' in New York City in 2008
Source: Getty Images

Blake, then 20, also addressed the tabloid fixation on her life off screen. “[I] just try not to listen to what people say,” she said at the time. “At least for me it’s important — because I’m so close with my family and my friends — to keep core people around me that know the truth about everything.”

If the couple were trying to pose as just friends, their cover was blown in May 2008 when People ran paparazzi photos of the two of them kissing while on vacation in Mexico.

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The couple had split up by the end of 2010.

In October 2010, a rep for both Blake and Penn confirmed to People that the pair had gone their separate ways.

But if Gossip Girl executive producer Joshua Safran’s timeline is correct, Blake and Penn navigated that breakup — or perhaps another one — before the end of the CW drama’s second season in May 2009.

“I found out on the set of the Season 2 finale that Blake and Penn had broken up months before,” Joshua told Vanity Fair in 2017. “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. Because they did not want their personal drama to relate to the show.”

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They continued to film ‘Gossip Girl,’ and Penn said there “was not one bit of strangeness.”

In a September 2023 episode of his Podcrushed podcast, Penn discussed his and Blake’s post-breakup work on Gossip Girl. “From my memory, I’m pretty sure we were exes for nearly half of the run of the entire series,” he said, per E! News. “[The show] lasted for nearly six years, and I don’t think we were together longer than two? Something like that.”

But Penn didn’t recall awkwardness on set — even as his character, Dan Humphrey, dated and even married Blake’s alter-ego, Serena van der Woodsen. “We were always very professional,” he said. “We had to do all kinds of nutso stuff. Having a fake marriage by the end of it … I don’t even think, in my memory, there was not one bit of strangeness. It wasn’t even a thing.”

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