As we get ready for a new episode of Gossip Girl tonight, we're excited to publish this interview of Penn Badgley by E! Online.
In it, the young actor speaks on the success of the show, as well as comparisons to a certain other Josh Schwartz character...
I wasn't really surprised. People who expected us to do better [ratings] right off the bat were being unrealistic, because the CW is still trying to establish itself as a full-fledged network. I think a show like Gossip Girl is just going to keep building an audience. It seems to be doing that slowly but surely every week.
Are you getting recognized already?
Actually, multiple times a day. If I go out in the city, chances are it's going to happen, especially if Blake Lively and I are together. We have this Serena and Dan complex going, so people freak out if they see the two of us.
Have you guys been hanging out together off set a lot?
Yeah, the whole cast gets along really well. I think I've made some pretty incredible friendships.
I don't think this would be happening if Gossip Girl weren't a Josh Schwartz show, but people are making this comparison between Dan and—
Exactly. Have you been getting that a lot?
No, not at all. I can't imagine why anyone would compare me to Seth Cohen! That's just absolutely crazy! [Laughs.] No, I think, on the page, Dan started out like a Seth Cohen in New York. But that's one of the reasons why, I think, Stephanie probably wanted to bring me on.
Because I've worked with her before, and I typically play the "Dan role," but one of the things I think has worked well for me is I try to bring as much dimension to that character as possible. I try to make him unique and not just a bumbling, awkward kid but a charming and innocent kid. You know, Adam Brody has his thing, and he's great at that, but I wanted to do something a little different.
People are probably going to see the similarities at any chance they can and be like, 'Oh, he's just trying to be Adam Brody.' I've already gotten that in a lot of the reviews, but I think if you pay a little more attention, I'm actually doing something very different.
Are you familiar with the Gossip Girl book series at all?
I read about 40 pages of the first book, just to get the idea and the tone. Then I realized there's really no point, because we're not emulating the books. We're only using the premise as a platform to go off and do our own thing. But fans of the books won't be disappointed, because we're going to bring the same kind of fun entertainment: a little bit of trash but a lot of substance.
Producers recently cast a new character that was a major part of the book series but has yet to appear on the show: Dan's former flame Vanessa.
Yeah, yeah. We've actually shot two episodes with Jessica Szohr already. It's really great having her on. She adds a nice dynamic to the show, and she's a great actress. I'm excited to see where Dan and Vanessa's relationship could possibly go. So far she's recurring, but I think given the character's prevalence in the book series, she could easily become a series regular. I mean, she definitely shifts things around a little bit, and I think it works.
In the books, Dan has a bi-curious element, no? He has questioned his sexuality.
Yeah, I think he's straight-up gay in the books. But I don't think network TV really has the balls to make one of their [teenage] series regulars gay. Let's say the show builds up to become a big hit, then I think they'd maybe explore it in year three or four. It would be an interesting thing to do. It could bring in a whole different demographic.