Gossip Girl took the formula for standard teen dramas to a whole new level. Incorporating the ever-present Big Brother-eque character of "Gossip Girl", the power of social media became the true star of this show.
Add in a cast of wealthy New York teens and the typical outsiders, and you get the perfect formula for one of the most popular shows of the 2000s. Over the course of 121 episodes, viewers became entranced by the indulgent lifestyles, stereotypical teen drama, and high fashion of these New York adolescents. The show was also known for making excellent use of its location, showcasing some of the trendiest restaurants and sites throughout New York. Even the conclusion of the show, the big reveal of Gossip Girl's identity, managed to shock most viewers and add to the pop culture footprint of the show - albeit in a negative way.
Though the show’s plots, overflowing with scandals, heartbreak, and a little murder, kept the attention of its viewers, the off-screen drama of the cast held the attention of the media. Almost a reflection of the scandalous behaviors of their characters, the secrets of the Gossip Girl cast have been revealed leaking out from the start of the show through even this year.
Here are 17 Dark Secrets Behind Gossip Girl You Had No Idea About.
17 Ed Westwick Was Too Scary Looking To Play A Romantic Lead
English actor Ed Westwick hoped to play lacrosse star Nate Archibald when Gossip Girl was first being cast, and even had a successful audition. Unfortunately, his overall look and appeal went in the wrong direction for the network's taste. Showrunners Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage were fans of Westwick's audition, but the network thought he gave off more of a serial killer vibe. Ouch. Maybe he would have been better suited for a lead role in American Horror Story or the Saw franchise.
Regardless, the casting department encouraged Westwick to audition for the role of villain turned romantic lead Chuck Bass instead. Westwick wowed in his audition, and he was officially cast for the show in April 2007.
16 Leighton Meester's estranged mom and sick brother
Known for being cunning and manipulative, Blair Waldorf did her best to remain the “Queen Bee” of Constance Saint Jude Prep School. In real life, however, actress Leighton Meester’s personal struggles and upbringing were a stark contrast to her character’s privilege.
Meester's parents had been involved in a drug ring and were incarcerated prior to her birth. She was born while her mother was in prison, and spent the first three months of her life in a halfway house. Meester did not let the stigma of her background affect her as she actively pursued an acting career. However, issues with her mother resurfaced later on.
Meester allegedly discovered that the money she was sending to financially support her sickly younger brother was, instead, being used by her mother for cosmetic procedures. She filed a lawsuit against her with her mother filing a counter-suit for breach of contract and physical abuse.
15 Everyone in the cast dated each other
After long hours of playing fake couples and love interests in aTV series, many teen drama stars transfer their onscreen romance to real life. In the case of Gossip Girl, the young actors and actresses ended up pursuing romances within the cast too.
Although many off-screen romances involve just a few members of the cast, the lead actors and actresses of Gossip Girl took things to a whole new level. With the exception of Chance Crawford (who played Nate) and Taylor Momsen (who played Jenny), every other member of the main cast ended up dating or hooking up with a co-star. That could not have been good for the cast morale when break-ups were involved.
Though some relationships ended amicably, others ended in the headlines of the gossip columns. Sound familiar?
14 Blake Lively and Penn Badgley Hid Their Break-Up on set For Months
Slated from the start of the show as the “couple to root for,” the relationship between Dan and Serena went through numerous trials. From dark secrets and cheating to becoming step-siblings who tried to date (definitely one of the more cringe-worthy plot points in Gossip Girl), their complicated love affair took center stage in the show.
However, unbeknownst to much of the cast and crew, their love story sadly ended in real life when, after three years of dating, they quietly broke up. However, their professionalism as working actors far exceeded their broken hearts and they managed to keep the truth of their breakup hidden from everyone for months. Even the cast and crew had no idea!
13 Ed Westwick and Jessica Szohr's Messy Relationship
In sharp contrast to the very private love life of Lively and Badgley, the relationship between Ed Westwick and Jessica Szohr was the stuff of Gossip Girl’s dreams. Known for playing Chuck Bass and Vanessa Abrams respectively, the two co-stars managed to fall in love during the filming of the series in 2008.
Unfortunately, their short-lived relationship became fodder for the gossip columns. Not only did they suffer frequent breakups and makeups, but rumors of an affair as well. Well, several affairs actually. After Westwick officially ended their relationship in 2010, rumors began circulating that the reason for the breakup was an affair Szohr had with one of his best friends. Not only was she allegedly cheating on with his friend but several other guys as well.
Though her rep denied the claims of her affairs, the two never reconciled their relationship.
12 Music Feud Between Leighton Meester and Taylor Momsen?
Thanks to the popularity of Gossip Girl, many of its lead cast benefited from a boost in popularity with audiences. However, a few cast members made a name for themselves with other talents.
Actresses Taylor Momsen and Leighton Meester were both up-and-coming singers while starring on the show. Momsen’s band, The Pretty Reckless, formed while she was on the show and got a boost in fame due to her newfound stardom. Meester, on the other hand, began her solo singing career in 2009 and found early success on Cobra Starship's song "Good Girls Go Bad". However, after the show used two of Meester’s songs and none of Momsen, an alleged feud began between them starting in season three.
In response, The CW released the following statement: "The show will support Taylor and her music when the time is right, but her music is not ready yet.” Oops.
11 Taylor Momsen Became Too Rebellious in Real Life
Jenny Humphrey went through one of the most notable transitions of the show. As her onscreen persona shifted to a more rebellious, Goth phase, Taylor Momsen also went through some serious changes as well. While she became more focused on her music, her on-set behaviors were rumored to have been problematic.
After making a guest appearance on Gossip Girl, fashion consultant Tim Gunn expressed his anger after working with her on the show. In an interview with E! Online, he stated, “She was pathetic, she couldn't remember her lines, and she didn't even have that many. I thought to myself 'why are we all being held hostage by this brat?"
Jenny’s storylines were eventually reduced until it was announced that Momsen would be taking an “indefinite hiatus” from the show. Though she has claimed the decision was hers, some believe she was removed to her unprofessional behavior.
10 Gossip Girl Author Hated Vanessa on the show
During the process of converting a novel to a movie or TV show, many elements of the original material may be subject to major changes. Whether to create more intrigue, conflict ,or assist the casting process, original authors can be thrown off when their beloved characters change drastically in the final televised version.
Gossip Girl author Cecily von Ziegesar was very pleased with the way her novelized characters appeared on TV. Well, with the exception of Vanessa Abrams. According to People, she shared, “I think Vanessa is one character they ruined. In the book, she’s kick-a-- and has a shaved head and wears lots of black. I think a lot of the readers who don’t usually read teen fiction identify with Vanessa... I just wish Vanessa was like she is in the books a bit more.”
In the books, Vanessa and Blair even develop the sort of opposites-attract friendship that we see between Dan and Blair in the series.
9 Protests Over That Infamous Threesome
In an effort to boost ratings, many teen dramas will use controversial storylines to try to garner better viewership. Gossip Girl sought the same “quick fix” during its third season when ratings were continuing to drop.
To take advantage of the constant tension between Dan and Vanessa, the writers decided to help their characters take the next step in their relationship. At the time, Dan was dating actress Olivia Burke (played by Hillary Duff). Writers took advantage of Burke’s departure from college life by having them engage in a threesome in the episode “They Shoot Humphreys, Don't They?”
After promotions for the show included “3SOME” as a teaser, the Parents Television Council called the upcoming episode "reckless and irresponsible." They urged CW affiliates from showing the episode, but no one complied, and the show aired as planned. In the end, the show got the ratings boost it needed.
8 Lively And Meester Were Never Friends
The onscreen relationship between Blair and Serena was no one’s idea of friendship goals. Depicted throughout the series as more so “frenemies” than best friends, the two often bickered, “broke up”, and resolved their differences way too often.
As if reflecting real life, this same inconsistency and tension existed between the two actresses as well. To a larger extent, Lively and Meester were not friendly at all off the set of the show. Elle Magazine highlighted the truth behind their relationship according to writer/co-producer Joshua Safran: “Blake and Leighton were not friends. They were friendly, but they were not friends like Serena and Blair. Yet the second they’d be on set together, it’s as if they were.”
Although rumors swirled of an onset feud that began in season three, cats and crew have assured audiences that their professionalism remained intact at all times.
7 Foreign Hacker Sold Gossip Girl Scripts On eBay
The ever-present "Gossip Girl" in the series reported on rumors and secrets that none of the characters wanted to be revealed. With the ongoing flow of leaked information and embarrassing moments, she had the upper hand when it came to controlling the actions of her readers. As if taking a page from one of the episodes, show producers had to deal with their own version of "Gossip Girl" in the form of a hacker.
In an article by Vanity Fair, one of the show’s producers revealed issues with the fourth season production: “All season, our scripts were ending up online, and we couldn’t figure out how…A teenager, I think either [from] Russia or Bulgaria, had hacked one of the writer’s e-mails, and was selling scripts on eBay.”
Gossip Girl plagued by its very own "Gossip Girl." XOXO, Russia.
6 Badgley Had No Idea Dan was "Gossip Girl"
As dedicated fans tuned in every week for the new episode, they were guided through the actions of the characters by the infamous Gossip Girl herself. Voiced by Veronica Mars alum Kristen Bell, viewers came to expect that the owner of the voice was, in fact, a woman. The shocking truth was revealed in the series finale that the real Gossip Girl was none other than outsider Dan Humphrey!
Although this discovery certainly took viewers by srurpise , no one was more surprised at the reveal that actor Penn Badgley. Despite receiving a script for the upcoming reveal scenes, the actor was left in the dark to keep the twist a secret. This, of course, led to inconsistencies in the reveal, since it meant Dan reacted with genuine surprise to Gossip Girl blasts while he was alone - something Gossip Girl would have no reason to do.
In the end, Gossip Girl tricked everyone involved, including himself.
5 Penn Badgley Wanted To Quit Acting
In pursuit of the Hollywood dream of stardom, actor Penn Badgley began his acting career at the very young age of 11. After moving to Hollywood, he began his start in showbiz with voiceover work in a few Nintendo games. As his acting career grew, he also landed roles on Will & Grace, and The Young & the Restless. However, after two lead roles in shows that never made it past their first seasons, the toll of being a struggling actor finally got to Badgley.
Padgley was reportedly so discouraged that he was about to abandon acting altogether - until he was offered the role of Dan in Gossip Girl and encouraged by producers to accept it.
4 Cast Members Regret Being On The Show
Throughout an actor's career, there may be the occasion role that they may regret taking. To build their career and pay the bills, some rising stars take compromising roles they may later reflect on as bad choices. In the case of Penn Badgley, he regretted accepting the role of Dan Humphrey while still filming Gossip Girl.
Harper Bazaar shared former showrunner Josh Safran’s thoughts on Badgley: “Penn did not like being on Gossip Girl, but…he was Dan. He may not have liked it, but [his character] was the closest to who he was.”
In addition, actress Blake Lively also stated that "[p]eople loved [the show], but it always felt a little personally compromising—you want to be putting a better message out there.”
Although they may not like their roles now, they cannot deny how these iconic roles launched their acting careers.
3 Ashley Olsen and Rumer Willis almost played Blair and Serena
After the success of The O.C., a drama based on the wealthy families of California's Orange County, television producer Josh Schwartz set his sights on the affluent lifestyles of NY teens. Developing the Cecily von Ziegesar book series Gossip Girl for television, he hoped to duplicate the success of his previous show by starting with the perfect cast.
The original casting for two of the lead roles almost went to some famous Hollywood actresses. According to US Magazine, CW casting director David Rapaport repoted that the network wanted Ashley Olsen and Rumer Willis to star in the series.
Although execs wanted these two actresses, casting decided that using lesser known actresses would better benefit the creative direction of the show. Leighton Meester and Blake Lively were, in fact, the first two stars selected for the ensemble cast.
2 Spin-Off and The O.C. Connections
Lily van der Woodsen, part of one of the elite families in NY, had a sordid past that continuously crept back to haunt her. Her early days as a rock 'n' roll groupie led her to many different places and escapades. Her times with her wild-child sister, Carol Rhodes, were briefly touched on throughout the series. However, producers found their characters intriguing enough to plan a spin-off series.
The pilot focused on the two sisters in the 1980s. Actress Brittany Snow was selected to play the younger Lily in the series and future Jessica Jones star Krysten Ritter played Carol. Unfortunately, the pilot never received the green light and was canceled. Also, the series would have included younger versions of some characters from The O.C., linking the worlds of the two popular teen dramas.
1 Ed Westwick’s Assault Accusations
As Hollywood continues to bring to light more incidents of harassment and assault, the allegations against well-known tv actors have grown exponentially. Included in this list of offenders is Gossip Girl alum Ed Westwick.
Westwick was first accused of sexual assault against American actor Kristina Cohen. Since the initial claim, he also faces accusations from two additional women: former actress Aurélie Wynn and creative producer Rachel Eck.
Considering the seriousness of these accusations, Westwick could face significant blowback regarding his career in both the UK and the US. So far the LAPD has begun an investigation into the accusations, and Westwick quickly lost roles in TV shows White Gold and Ordeal by Innocence.
These allegations bring a whole different light to the two disturbing scenes in the Gossip Girl pilot where Westwick's character Chuck Bass attempts to assault both Serena and Jenny.
Do you have any other Gossip Girl dark secrets to share? Leave them in the comments!