Taylor Momsen leaving Gossip Girl was kind of a big deal. The actress was seen increasingly less during The CW hit’s fourth season, despite having been one of the main characters in the ones prior. Jenny Humphrey slowly but surely started to disappear from the series after replacing Blair Waldorf as the Constance Billard School for Girls’ Queen Bee, which was all kinds of confusing for fans.
Talk of a feud between Momsen and Leighton Meester contributed to the rumors behind Momsen’s departure from the show. In fact, she was bashed in public statements by more than one of her co-workers. But the truth about her departure is much less dramatic and vitriolic than it was originally made out to be.
Taylor Momsen started working when she was 2 years old
The actress, now 27, started modeling at the age of 2. She started acting at 3, landing her first major role in the Jim Carrey How The Grinch Stole Christmas. That experience, she shared in a recent interview with Today, sparked her love of music. From then on, the young artist knew she wanted to be a musician while she was actively auditioning for acting work.
She landed the role of Jenny Humphrey and started filming Gossip Girl when she was just 12 years old, and she spent the next several years growing through her artistry, her music becoming more and more of a priority for her.
When she formed her current rock band, The Pretty Reckless, she knew her Gossip Girl days were numbered. Not because she wasn’t allowed to pursue work outside of the show, rather she knew in her gut that she wanted to focus on the band full time.
The CW and Tim Gunn released brutal statements about Taylor Momsen
Momsen wasn’t the only musician in the Gossip Girl cast. Meester, her on-screen rival, was pursuing a solo music career. Her collaboration with Cobra Starship, “Good Girls Go Bad,” was featured on the series, as well as some of Meester’s other music, and that reportedly caused a feud between Meester and Momsen (which, to be honest, sounds like its own folk band).
The Grinch alum wanted her band’s music featured on the show, but The CW released a harsh public statement instead, rather than, you know, just talking to her about it.
“The show will support Taylor and her music when the time is right, but her music is not ready yet,” the statement read. Oof. Why the show executives felt the need to issue a public take down of Momsen’s music remains a mystery, but her band’s tunes were eventually featured on the show.
As if your bosses taking a private work issue public and reading you for filth while they did it wasn’t uncomfortable enough, Project Runway alum Tim Gunn didn’t mince words when speaking of Momsen.
Taylor Momsen left ‘Gossip Girl’ to focus on her music
After guest starring as himself in a 2010 episode, Gunn gave a scathing review of his time working with Momsen to E! News. Jenny was applying to Parsons in the show, and had to present her portfolio to Gunn. The scenes they shared were few, but apparently they weren’t fun for Gunn.
“What a diva,” he said. “She was pathetic, she couldn’t remember her lines, and she didn’t even have that many. I thought to myself ‘why are we all being held hostage by this brat?'”
Gunn’s judgment didn’t end there. He went on to say that Momsen bothered everyone she worked with.
“I learned from teaching to stick with the topic, I don’t get involved in character appraisals,” he said. “I’d just ask her ‘do you want to share with me why you’re always on your phone?’ At one point the director leaned in and whispered to me, ‘this is day in, day out, my life.’ She annoyed the entire crew.”
According to Deadline, Momsen also exhibiting “volatile” behavior on set that “raised eyebrows,” which was the reported reason for her being written off the show. Momsen told an entirely different story years after leaving.
The singer told The Daily Beast in 2014 that she simply fell out of love with acting. (Indeed, she hasn’t taken another acting job since Gossip Girl.) She had spent her entire life up until that point doing jobs she wasn’t fully passionate about, and there came a point during her time on Gossip Girl where enough was enough.
“I started modeling at 2, and then acting at 3, and then Gossip Girl when I was 12, so I wasn’t really making my own decisions,” she said. “When I got to a place where I realized I was in control of my own life, and had found the right band, and everything was coming to fruition, it wasn’t even a question: I was going to quit my day job. I came to set every day with a f*ckin’ guitar.”
Sure, she might have been an angsty teen at the time, but her recollection of her departure painted a much more amicable split than the show and Gunn described.
“But I’m very lucky that the producers were nice enough to write me out, allow me to tour, and pursue my passion,” she said. “Because they very easily could have told me to go f*ck myself and keep me on the show.”
By all accounts, the breakup seems mutual.