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Penn Badgley reveals his previous relationship with Blake Lively helped him stay sober

By Melanie Uson Published Feb 18, 2023 11:47 am

It is not uncommon for public figures to suffer from substance abuse as they rise to fame with all the peer influence and pressure from the industry.

Although he experienced a “spiritual crisis,” You star Penn Badgley reveals in a Variety interview that he managed to distance himself from substance abuse with the help of his ex-girlfriend, Blake Lively. 

Badgley rose to fame in 2007 with his role in the drama series Gossip Girl as Dan Humphrey, who was the love interest of Serena van der Woodsen (Blake Lively). The show lasted for five years. 

Despite his speedy rise to fame, Badgley “didn’t want to be in television.” 

“I was biding time a lot with Dan—I was not invested. And I’m not saying it’s a good thing! I’m saying it’s just what it was,” he explained. 

He described that era of his life as both fun and dark. “There’s two ways I see them—fun and fast-paced,” adding that it was also a “dark undercurrent that would bottom out in my later 20s.”  

Although seeing those years as “dark,” the 36-year-old actor clarified that it was not related to substance abuse. He recalled, “To be honest, I never struggled with substance,” he said.

He then went on to reveal that it was all thanks to Lively. “Blake didn’t drink, and I think our relationship in some ways saved me from forcing myself to go down that road," Badgley said.

Further detailing that stage in his life, Badgley said he felt isolated. He explained, “I was never anything that I would define as suicidal at all, but I was certainly in a despair. 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."

Other than Blake, traveling, exploring Buddhism, and participating in political causes, such as Occupy Wall Street, kept him occupied.  He also shared that he also explored “a lot of physical techniques, from breathing to meditation.” 

Badgley and Lively dated for three years until their split in 2010. Currently, both are settled with their own families; Badgley has been married to Domino Kirke since 2017 and has been enjoying life with their son who they welcomed in 2020. Blake, meanwhile, recently welcomed her fourth child with Hollywood actor Ryan Reynolds.