Penn Badgley Life
Born November 1, 1986, in Baltimore, Maryland,
Penn Dayton Badgley has perhaps the oddest story of how he was named. Penn spent his childhood in Richmond, Virginia, and Seattle, Washington, attending Tacoma’s Charles Wright Academy.
By the age of 11, Penn Badgley had his heart set on being a performer and moved with his mother to California. (His parents divorced when he was 12.) Always a supporter, Penn’s mother drove him 50 miles so he could be involved in a production of The Music Man.
In California, he was homeschooled before attending a public high school. At age 14, Penn Badgley decided to take the California High School Proficiency Exam, and then attended Santa Monica College, where he earned two years of credits before being accepted as a junior at the University of Southern California (he deferred admission). Apart from his educational pursuits, Penn was working away at his acting career.
After doing some voice work, he landed his first onscreen role on Will & Grace. Playing Phillip Chancellor IV, a guest role on The Young and the Restless, earned Penn a nomination for a 2001 Young Artist Award for Best Performance in a Daytime Series. Penn was cast in a lead role on the 2002 WB series Do Over, playing Joel Larsen, a 34-year-old man who gets to re-live his freshman year of high school. Penn Badgley filmed 15 episodes of the show, but it was canceled before the full season was finished.
The WB felt Penn Badgley was an actor to hold on to and the network cast him in a new show. Penn played Sam Tunney in The Mountain, a drama set at a ski resort, but that show was canceled after its first season. The year after that, Penn was a lead in the WB’s The Bedford Diaries, a show about college students in a sexuality seminar, along with future Heroes star Milo Ventimiglia.
That show? Canceled in its first season. But there was one more pilot in his future for the WB descendent, the brand-new CW.
Between all those TV shows for the WB, PennBadgley made a few movies as well — Drive Thru with Leighton Meester and John Tucker Must Die. In its otherwise negative review of the flick, the New York Times again singled him out. Penn Badgley hit the big screen again in 2008’s Forever Strong, based on a true story of a rugby player’s struggle. In 2009, he finished filming The Stepfather, a remake of the 1987 thriller of the same name.
With the success of Gossip Girl, Penn’s personal life was dug into, in particular his relationship with Blake Lively. His TV dad, Matthew Settle, felt his TV son had the ability to handle the scrutiny. Other than his work and ladylove, Penn’s passions are music and soccer. When he was 12 years old, Penn recorded a pop song and had some other singing opportunities — some more successful than others.
Comparing himself to his onscreen counterpart, Penn Badgley wagers, “I would like to think that I have the same integrity as his character.I am a little more socially confident. I am not the loner. . . . But I was very introverted as a kid. So there are more similarities in that way than people might at first think. But yeah, overall, I think we are very similar.
And on a television show, over time, the character really becomes you or rather you become the character. You kind of switch into that mode very easily. As time goes on, you might see more similarities.”