Why Penn Badgley and Chace Crawford Don't Like Watching 'Gossip Girl'

“Buddy, you have to strap me to a gurney and pop my eyes open like Clockwork Orange,” Crawford joked of revisiting the 2007 series. 

It’s a good day for self-proclaimed Upper East Siders the world over. Former Gossip Girl costars Penn Badgley and Chace Crawford reunited via video chat for Variety’s Actors on Actors, discussing everything from their careers to their first iPhones (Blake Lively got Badgley his, FWIW).

Badgley, who’s currently the star of Netflix mega-hit You, worried that the role of serial killer Joe Goldberg was something of an extension of his Gossip Girl character, Dan. “The funny thing is I didn’t get excited to be like, ‘Oh, this is such a different and interesting take on a similar vibe,’” he said of signing on for the series. “I was, if anything, too self conscious about that, and I was inclined to be like, ‘I know it seems quite different, but in a way it’s almost like Dan, just with bloody hands.’”

Though the shadow of Gossip Girl is understandably hard to get out from under, Badgley and Crawford have something of a strategy. Neither actor has rewatched the show recently, and neither particularly wants to.

“I know that I watched with my wife, with Domino [Kirke], before we got married,” Badgley said. “It must’ve been six months after we met. She had never seen it, and that’s the last time I can remember seeing an episode. I remember even then, it has nothing to do with the show, but it was very hard to watch. These snapshots of yourself when you’re 20, 21, 22 years old. Who can enjoy that? Sometimes it’s just uncomfortable.”

Crawford agreed, joking, “Buddy, you have to strap me to a gurney and pop my eyes open like Clockwork Orange,” about rewatching, though he admitted, “It would be interesting to see the first couple maybe.”

Penn Badgley and Chace Crawford
Michael N. Todaro/WireImage

“I don’t like really watching myself that much in general,” Crawford said. “So to go back and open that time capsule, I think there would be some nostalgic value.”

Badgley tapped into the obsession with the CW series, which began in 2007. “People wanted to watch a show like Gossip Girl because it was aspirational. It was like an escape. It seemed like it struck a certain cultural chord because it was this aspirational fantastical vision of excess and wealth,” he said, explaining that things are vastly different today. “Cut to 13 years later, people are not interested in that. And I think rightfully so. Now they’re interested in deconstructing why we’re so fascinated with that in the first place. We’re interested in deconstructing those systems of privilege. I’m not saying that our television shows are doing that, but I’m saying that’s what people are more interested in, so therefore these shows reflect that.”

Though no details were given, the actors did touch, briefly, on the HBO Max Gossip Girl reboot. “I’m so interested to see what it’s like,” Badgley said of the upcoming series. “I wish them well. I really am also interested to see how people react to it.”

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