‘Gossip Girl’: Blake Lively Originally Turned Down Her Famous Role to Go to School

Blake Lively is an actor who starred on the show Gossip Girl as Serena van der Woodsen. The series was a hit with fans, and it ran for five years. It is no doubt one of Lively’s most iconic roles. However, some fans might be surprise to know that Lively originally turned down to offer to play Serena so she could go to college.

Blake Lively in front of photographers, looking to the side
Blake Lively | Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

Why did Blake Lively eventually take on the role of Serena?

When casting for Gossip Girl began, Lively had already received some recognition for her role in the 2005 film The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. The show’s developers thought she would be a great fit as Serena, but Lively wasn’t convinced.

“I said, ‘No, I want to go to college. Thank you, though,’” she said, according to Vanity Fair. “Then they said, ‘O.K., you can go to Columbia [University] one day a week. After the first year [of the show], it’ll quiet down. Your life will go back to normal and you can start going to school. We can’t put it in writing, but we promise you can go.’”

Because of this promise, Lively signed on to play Serena. However, as many fans know, the show did not “quiet down” after the first season. Lively gained so much attention from it that college was eventually out of the question.

She joked about it to Vanity Fair, saying, “This is advice to anyone: when they say, ‘We promise, but we can’t put it in writing,’ there’s a reason they can’t put it in writing.”

Blake Lively said being on ‘Gossip Girl’ did not feel like acting

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Lively spent a lot of time working on Gossip Girl during its run, but she did not think it felt like acting.

“It didn’t really feel like acting as much,” she told Vanity Fair. “It felt like we were in the center of a marketing machine, a cultural pop phenomenon.”

Lively described how the cast would sometimes film “three episodes at once” and not know much about what their characters were doing until the last minute.

“We were basically sort of reading off of cue cards,” Lively said. “There were people taking pictures the whole time and paparazzi jumping in front of the cameras—it felt like we were part of a cultural experiment. There was something neat about that.”

Blake Lively now has some negative feelings about her ‘Gossip Girl’ role

Blake Lively looking on
Blake Lively on the set of ‘Gossip Girl’ in 2012 | Alo Ceballos/FilmMagic

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Gossip Girls has no doubt given Lively a huge platform, but she also looks back on her character Serena with mixed feelings.

In an interview with Allure, she said, “I would not be proud to be the person who gave someone the cocaine that made them overdose and then shot someone and slept with someone else’s boyfriend.”

For Lively, playing a character like Serena was “personally compromising.”

She explained, “People loved it, but it always felt a little personally compromising—you want to be putting a better message out there. The lines become blurred…It doesn’t help when everybody is dating who they’re dating on the show, and you’re also saying to the costume designer, ‘Hey, can I take that home?’”