Penn’s life going according to Dan
AS ILLOGICAL as it may seem, the breakout star of Gossip Girl is not a girl but a boy — Penn Badgley.
Badgley plays rich kid Dan Humphrey in the series and has two more projects in the works: thriller The Stepfather, opposite Dylan Walsh ( Nip/Tuck) and Sela Ward ( House), and a villainous turn in the rugbythemed Forever Strong.
It is a stark contrast to his first three lead roles — the short-lived time-travel comedy Do Over, quickly forgotten family drama The Mountain and lacklustre The Bedford Diaries with Matthew Modine.
All were for the WB Television network which stuck with Badgley despite the failure of those shows. When it came to casting Gossip Girl the network (since renamed The CW) had him top of the list.
Penn’s Humphrey is the Brooklyn-dwelling moral compass for the show’s privileged prepschool kids. He is in love with reformed (maybe) party girl Serena van der Woodsen (Blake Lively), who many thought would be the most likely cast member to gain widespread fame.
Instead, it is Badgley who has finally, after so many series, found his perfect moment to shine.
Badgley says the idea of being the show’s first breakout star isn’t a total surprise, but is quick to point out that any member of the cast could be in his place.
‘‘I’m definitely grateful for the opportunity they (The CW) have given me,’’ he says.
‘‘It’s a great cast all round. In a lot of teen soap operas you have a lot of pretty faces and maybe not a lot of talent, but I really do feel there’s no weak link in the cast.’’
The show has also brought romance to Badgley’s life with reports that he and Blakely are dating. Last year photos surfaced of the pair kissing on vacation in Mexico.
‘‘Obviously there’s chemistry there,’’ he said later.
‘‘She’s a great girl.’’
THE pair also appeared together on The View where Badgley defended claims the show was too provocative.
‘‘The kids that are involved in the most abusive . . . the drugs, the alcohol, the sex . . . tend to lead the most shattered family lives. You see the repercussions of it at such a young age,’’ he told host Whoopi Goldberg.
The hit status of Gossip Girl has ensured a long career for Badgley after that string of early failures.
‘‘Now that I’m on Gossip Girl, I wouldn’t have it any other way,’’ he says.
stars Penn Badgley and Blake Lively.