Penn Badgley Recalls How Ex Blake Lively "Saved" Him During a Dark Time

Penn Badgley is reflecting on his time on "Gossip Girl," during which he famously dated costar Blake Lively. In an interview with Variety published on Feb. 15, the "You" actor opened up about his catapult into fame after the show aired in 2007, as well as his subsequent relationship with Lively.

"Beyond our relationship, I don't think anybody was going to be interested in me publicly," he told the publication, though he said his life changed like "night and day" after the series premiered. "I think the date was Sept. 19, 2007." Badgley and Lively's onscreen romance extended into reality in 2007, and the two had an on-and-off relationship before splitting for good in 2010.

"Our relationship in some ways saved me from forcing myself to go down that road."

Toward the end of "Gossip Girl," Badgley admitted he no longer wanted to be on TV and was "not invested" in his role. "I was biding time a lot with Dan . . . And I'm not saying it's a good thing! I'm saying it's just what it was," he said. At the time, he shared he was dealing with a "spiritual crisis" of sorts as a result of his fame and wealth, which Lively helped him through. "To be honest, I never struggled with substance," he said. "Blake didn't drink, and I think our relationship in some ways saved me from forcing myself to go down that road."

Badgley described that time as a "dark undercurrent that would bottom out in [his] later 20s." He added, "Like anybody who experiences some degree of fame and wealth, I was presented with the universal truth that not only does it not make your life better or easier, it actually can greatly complicate things, and make you quite unhappy." But through exploring social change, Buddhism, and travel, he found peace. Now, he embraces the fame that comes with his "You" role, which he believes revived his acting career.

Lively recently welcomed her fourth child with husband Ryan Reynolds, whom she's been with since 2011. Badgley, meanwhile, is married to musician Domino Kirke. They were first linked together in 2014 before tying the knot in 2017. The couple now share their first child together, born September 2020, as well as Kirke's teen son from a previous relationship.