Six years after ending his run as Gossip Girl‘s Dan Humphrey, Penn Badgley is returning to television as a brilliant bookworm who uses social media to work his way into the life of a striking blonde in New York City. … Wait, what?
“Trust me, the parallels were the first thing that dawned on me when I read the script,” Badgley told TVLine with a laugh during our recent visit to the set of his upcoming Lifetime thriller You.
Based on Caroline Kepnes’ 2014 novel, the series stars Badgley as Joe Goldberg, a bookstore manager who refuses to let anything keep him from pursuing Beck (Once Upon a Time‘s Elizabeth Lail), an aspiring writer who walks into his store — and, unknowingly, into his life.
“I have no interest in ignoring the ways in which [Dan and Joe] are similar, or any of the comical parallels between the two,” Badgley said. “If anything, to the degree that there is any parallel between this role and Dan is the degree to which I get to sort of live out these twisted fantasies that I always wanted to. And that’s that. As much as people want to connect those dots, they’re welcome to, and I’m sure they will. It’s certainly not lost on me. But there’s a lot else about this show that makes it quite different. It’s just a matter of how much people are paying attention.”
And just like fans of Gossip Girl — which is still gaining new, younger audiences to this day, thanks to Netflix — Badgley isn’t quite done processing the drama’s long-awaited reveal that (spoiler alert!) his character was behind it all.
“You know what’s funny? I think I got that show the least out of anyone who was a part of it. I have to just admit that,” he said. “But I’m happy to wear that crown, so to speak. Like, yeah, OK. I’m Gossip Girl. That’s cool. I think the most honest thing I can say about it is that it’s very hard for anyone to have that much perspective about themselves.”
Badgley continued, “Being on that show and being that character, I don’t even know what to say — in a good way. I think I used to know what to say about it, or I thought I knew what to say about it. Now, I just think it’s this incredible thing and I sort of wonder at it. In a way, I’m infinitely grateful, and while being grateful, I’m measured in the way that I regard it. It’s a big defining thing in my life, so it’s like, how do I feel about Dan? How do I feel about Gossip Girl? I love them all. Sometimes you turn the most scrutinizing eye on the people and things you love the most.”
We’ll have more pearls of wisdom from Badgley as we near the 2018 premiere of You, but for now, drop a comment with your thoughts below: Have you — sorry, You — made peace with Gossip Girl‘s OMFG ending?