Penn Badgley Called Ex-Girlfriend Blake Lively Both His Best and Worst On-Screen Kiss
#TBT: Check in every Thursday as we throw it back to some of our favorite celebrity couples of all time.
Who: The Shallows actress Blake Lively, 32, and You actor Penn Badgley, 33.
How They Met: Lively and Badgley were just show biz babies when they met on the set of Gossip Girl in 2007. The former had a marginal amount of name recognition following her performance in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2005), while Badgley was best known for his supporting role in John Tucker Must Die (the other Tucker!).
Off-screen dating rumors swirled almost immediately, but the pair was quick to shut them down. In early 2008, Lively told People, “Everybody always tries to dig into your personal life or create things that aren’t there … It’s silly. Any male friend is obviously a ‘romance alert’ [for the media], but I’ve always been friends with boys my whole life.” By May, they’d been photographed making out in Mexico, effectively shattering the ice beneath Lively’s soapbox.
Why We Loved Them: After the crushing blow of O.C. stars Rachel Bilson and Adam Brody’s off-screen breakup, Lively and Badgley felt like our second chance at a teen dream come true. According to Lively, Gossip Girl’s producers were more than aware of the positive effect an off-screen romance had on viewers. “They wanted us all to date. They wanted us all to wear the same clothes that we’re wearing on the show. They wanted that, because then it fed their whole narrative. People could buy into this world,” the actress told Vanity Fair in 2017.
When They Peaked: The best part of this relationship, honestly, was its end. Unfortunately for Badgley, his press tour for indie flick Greetings from Tim Buckley coincided with Lively’s top-secret (until it wasn’t) wedding to Ryan Reynolds. The You star was quizzed about his co-star-ex-girlfriend’s recent milestone more than once, and he was forced to admit that he had heard about the wedding through media reports. “I actually didn’t know until last night, but I think it’s fantastic,” he said. “I couldn’t be happier for her.” On a separate occasion, he was asked whether he’d sent the blushing bride a wedding gift. He did not.
The Breakup: By late 2010, the co-stars’ relationship had reverted to onscreen-only. The exact reasons behind the split were never revealed by either party, but a month ahead of the split Lively had told Allure she wanted “lots of babies,” but refused to answer whether Badgley would be the presumptive father. “I don’t comment on my relationships, so you can skip that one!” she told the outlet. “My anonymity is something I treasure. Wanting to be an actor and wanting to be famous are different.”
Badgley, a Hollywood clairvoyant, told Men’s Health “Having a relationship with someone you work with might not always be the smartest move” a year ahead of his split from Lively. Risky business as it was, he admitted “it’s been wonderful to be in a relationship where we can both identify with what the other is experiencing.”
Years later, Badgley described what it was like to work with Lively post-split, explaining that they were “ultimately professional.” This claim is backed by both co-star Chase Crawford and writer-producer Joshua Safran, who told Vanity Fair the show's crew didn’t even know about the breakup until months after the fact.
Reconciliation rumors swirled for a short time in 2011, but Lively and Reynolds’s relationship soon put them to rest.
When asked to discuss what the breakup had taught him, Badgley told Elle, “I don't know if I can distill it into a sentence, or even articulate it. We were very much caught up in the show, which itself was a six-year endurance test. Our relationship was a part of that and helped us through it. I mean, like anything valuable, it was good and it was bad and it was a learning experience.”
Also good and bad? Making out with Lively. When prompted, Badgley called Lively his best (and also worst) on-screen kiss. “I’ll say Blake because we actually had a relationship at the time,” he told Watch What Happens Live host Andy Cohen. “And worst? Maybe Blake after we broke up.”
While there appears to be little bad blood between the two (though Lively may still be waiting on that wedding gift), they aren’t exactly pals. "We haven't spoken in a while, you know," Badgley said in 2015. "There's an amicable silence, if that makes any sense."
Where They Are Now:
Badgley is riding a career high at the moment as the anti-hero of Netflix serial adaptation You. According to IMDb, he also currently has two films in post-production: The Birthday Cake opposite Ewan McGregor and Val Kilmer, and Here Today with Billy Crystal and Tiffany Haddish.
The actor wed singer and sometime doula Domino Kirke (sister to Lola and Jemima) in 2017.
Lively, too, has several projects in the works. Revenge drama The Rhythm Section is out later this month, and she’s slated to star in an adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s bestselling novel The Husband’s Secret.
In 2012, Lively wed Reynolds. They’ve since welcomed three daughters together: James, 5, Inez, 3, and a newborn whose name has yet to be revealed to the public.