Penn Badgley Looks Back on Romance With Blake Lively and How She May Have 'Saved' Him

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Penn Badgley credits his Gossip Girl co-star and ex-girlfriend, Blake Lively, with keeping him on the right track as his fame was on the rise.

In a new interview with Variety, Badgley opens up about his three-year romance with Lively, who played his Gossip Girl character Dan Humphrey's on-screen love interest, Serena van der Woodsen.

The pair started dating in real life in 2007 at the start of the teen drama's run.

“Beyond our relationship, I don’t think anybody was going to be interested in me publicly,” Badgley says, adding of his overnight fame, “It was a little bit night and day. I think the date was Sept. 19, 2007.”

Badgley says that toward the end of the show's six-season run, he no longer wanted to be involved in TV.

"I was biding time a lot with Dan — I was not invested. And I’m not saying it’s a good thing! I’m saying it’s just what it was," he explains.

Penn Badgley and Blake Lively on 'Gossip Girl' set
James Devaney/WireImage

He describes his time on the show as "fun and fast-paced" but adds that there was a “dark undercurrent that would bottom out in my later 20s."

When asked by Variety if he is referring to substance abuse, he replies, “To be honest, I never struggled with substance. Blake didn’t drink, and I think our relationship in some ways saved me from forcing myself to go down that road.”

Though Lively helped keep him away from substances, Badgley did talk about some of the dark thoughts he had during that time.

“I was never anything that I would define as suicidal at all, but I was certainly in a despair,” he says. “It had to do with ‘Do I matter? Do I matter? Does anything matter?’ These questions do inform how we feel."

In the years since their 2010 split, both Lively and Badgley have moved on in the romance department. Lively married actor Ryan Reynolds in 2012 and they recently welcomed their fourth child together. Meanwhile, Badgley married Domino Kirke in 2017 and the couple shares son James, 2, and 14-year-old Cassius, who is Kirke's son from a previous relationship.


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