On the primetime cleaning soap “Gossip Lady,” Penn Badgley and Chace Crawford performed two very completely different teen characters: Badgley’s Dan Humphrey was a member of the Brooklyn literati, whereas Crawford’s Nate Archibald inhabited Manhattan’s social whirl. Now, their grown-up roles subvert these photos: Badgley performs a bookseller — and snobbish serial assassin — on Netflix’s “You,” whereas Crawford makes for a smirking, haughty superhero on Amazon’s “The Boys.” In fact, the 2 actors had quite a bit to say about “Gossip Lady” too. They talked to one another over video chat for Variety‘s Actors on Actors subject.
Chace Crawford: Penn, buddy! I checked out Season 1 of “You” a few years in the past, however watching Season 2 final night time, it was fascinating to see a man I labored with for therefore lengthy on my TV display once more. However was it fascinating for you — the present beginning out at Lifetime having a sure trajectory, and then being moved to Netflix and being in entrance of 100 million folks instantaneously?
Penn Badgley: I believe when so few folks had been watching it on Lifetime — the community for girls, of all networks — I believe I used to be questioning in regards to the ethical ambiguity of it. I’ve been clear about my ethical battle taking part in this man. I felt significantly better about what we had been doing as soon as lots of people had been watching, not as a result of I wanted the gratification of plenty of viewers, however extra like, it is sensible; persons are responding to the way in which we’re coming into this dialog in regards to the tropes of the romantic comedy, and the tropes of the romantic white male lead.
On a streaming present, you make the entire thing earlier than anyone has seen it. Is it the identical with yours?
Crawford: It was. Not solely did we make the primary season, it bought picked up for a second season and it nonetheless hadn’t come out. It’s fascinating to me, as a result of additionally, man, to be sincere, we transfer on from “Gossip Lady” to taking part in despicable white male privileged guys. I had the identical qualms you probably did.
Badgley: What I actually like about your character, which is for higher or worse, just like mine, is that you simply begin out realizing carte blanche simply how dangerous he’s. And truthfully, for me, not realizing the tone of the present, the primary episode, it continues to unfold, like, “Oh, wait.” I truthfully was so excited to see you play this dignified superhero. After which I’m like, “Oh, no. It simply took such a flip.”
They’re each reveals the place instantly they take the trope they’re working with, in your case it’s a superhero and my case I assume it’s just like the romantic male lead, and then principally inside the first episode it’s bludgeoned it with a sledgehammer. It’s fairly fascinating to see the commentary and satire that showrunners are most serious about now, and what audiences are typically probably the most serious about.
It’s like, we’ve seen the blissful, candy, saccharine stuff, and now we’re trying to deconstruct all of it, as a result of we see the way it hasn’t served us possibly.
Crawford: I agree with you totally, and truly I had a query about that. I used to be going to ask you, do you notice how humorous you might be in among the moments? He’s nearly pathetic —
Crawford: It’s type of this bizarre grey space that you simply don’t wish to really feel.
Badgley: I discovered your character to be way more relatable and candy. Your man, particularly as a result of by the top, he’s being assaulted himself, which I’ve to say, I used to be like, there’s one thing about a gill and her. And I’m sorry if I’m spoiling this for anyone, however it was so visceral. You couldn’t in any other case present such an intimate type of assault if we had been dealing with precise human genitalia, however the truth that it’s like this. It turns into an allegory in a manner the place we’re seeing her penetrate you. And it’s bizarre, man.
Crawford: It was powerful for me to even watch, and belief me, it was not enjoyable to shoot both, with the director proper in there and giving very particular notes.
Badgley: How a lot of that was prosthetic? How a lot of it was CGI?
Crawford: They did the precise prosthetics on my pores and skin for the primary a part of the scene. They’d an important particular results man replicate my complete torso all the way down to the little chest hair. I’m laying there, and I’ve my very own faux torso on me with the gills which have somewhat bit extra room, and he’s behind me pumping them with these air pumps in order that they transfer, and the director is true over me. I’m like, “Guys, I’m nauseous. Can I simply get out of right here?”
Badgley: I had an identical factor the place we needed to make a prosthetic of my proper arm, as a result of I get my pinkie minimize off within the second episode. That was a bit surreal.
When The Deep doesn’t need … does he have a human identify?
Crawford: It’s Kevin.
Badgley: That’s humorous. So when Kevin, The Deep, when this girl asks him to take off his swimsuit — I don’t know. It was simply one other second the place I used to be stunned by the vulnerability of your character. I believe my character performs at having vulnerability in a manner, however in all probability has, nicely — positively has a a lot deeper psychosis.
Crawford: What’s fascinating about Joe — it’s nearly like an odd continuation of Dan.
On the finish of “Gossip Lady” the present, no matter your response is on whether or not it was good to try this or not, that he’s Gossip Lady — it didn’t actually line up with the character of Dan. Proper?
Crawford: I simply discover it fascinating that Joe, we type of know who this man is. You guys as a present actually go for that. It’s fascinating why folks wish to proceed watching that and see the place it goes. Is it torture porn? Is it shock worth? Folks like it.
Badgley: It’s all of these issues and extra. I believe it’s emblematic of our time, as a result of again in 2007 – I imply, dude. That’s a very long time in the past after we had been simply boys. Folks wished to look at a present like “Gossip Lady” as a result of it was aspirational. It was like an escape. It appeared prefer it struck a sure cultural chord as a result of it was this aspirational fantastical imaginative and prescient of extra and wealth.
However now, minimize to 13 years later, persons are not serious about that. And I believe rightfully so. Now they’re serious about deconstructing why we’re so fascinated with that within the first place. We’re serious about deconstructing these techniques of privilege. I’m not saying that our tv reveals are doing that, however I’m saying that’s what persons are extra serious about, so due to this fact these reveals mirror that.
Crawford: The curtain has kind of dropped. Again in ’07, “Gossip Lady” was edgy.
Badgley: I do know, man. That’s humorous as a result of it actually was. And now, I imply, I haven’t seen it in so lengthy. It could be very fascinating to look at it now. Have you ever seen it just lately?
Crawford: Buddy, it’s a must to strap me to a gurney and pop my eyes open like “Clockwork Orange.” However no, it could be fascinating to see the primary couple possibly.
Badgley: I do know that I watched with my spouse, with Domino [Kirke], earlier than we bought married. It should’ve been six months after we met. She had by no means seen it, and that’s the final time I can keep in mind seeing an episode. I keep in mind even then, it has nothing to do with the present, however it was very onerous to look at. These snapshots of your self while you’re 20, 21, 22 years outdated. Who can take pleasure in that? Typically it’s simply uncomfortable.
Crawford: Yeah, in fact. I don’t like actually watching myself that a lot usually. So to return and open that point capsule, I believe there can be some nostalgic worth. We’re doing that while you come to L.A. We’ll have a drink.
Badgley: A bit watching get together. Dude, if we live-tweet a viewing of any episode of “Gossip Lady,” folks would love that.
Crawford: We didn’t should deal with all that. Bear in mind, ’07 was when the very first iPhone got here out. I keep in mind you bought it. I keep in mind you had it at a Halloween get together. You had the primary iPhone, and take into consideration that now. I keep in mind we had been extra about digital camera telephones and this and that. There wasn’t social media.
Badgley: Blake [Lively] bought me that. I actually was like, “I don’t need this factor. It’s so cumbersome, and it has all these apps on it.”
Badgley: However, man, I keep in mind even assembly a publicist that first season, and she was speaking about this factor known as Twitter. And as she defined Twitter, I used to be like, “What is that this nonsense? I don’t wish to have a Twitter account, and you tweet. What is that this chook factor?” That’s one thing that truly years later, I believe we bought to present credit score to “Gossip Lady.”
Crawford: It was forward of its time. It actually tapped into one thing fascinating on the cusp of all of it altering. I’m like, “Why would I wish to put my life on the market? I’m making an attempt to crawl into my hermit shell. I’m a Most cancers.” However now we’re all partaking. It’s a part of the enterprise. I ought to comply with you.
Badgley: We should always comply with one another.
Crawford: What are we doing?
Badgley: We might have had Rihanna-level followers. Really, that’s in all probability not true. I’ve all the time tried to be each clear and forthcoming and grateful of the way in which “Gossip Lady” positioned me to be in a task like this and for it to have the actual impact that it has. As a result of it’s fascinating that no matter my efficiency, the truth that it’s merely me, simply one of many primary characters of the present known as “Gossip Lady,” and I ended up being Gossip Lady — although we will debate about whether or not or not that is sensible. And we will debate about whether or not or not Dan is even actually a male lead within the present, as a result of the guts of the present was some place else.
However anyway, it’s me [on “You”] taking part in this man Joe, and it makes plenty of sense in a manner. The humorous factor is I didn’t get excited to be like, “Oh, that is such a unique and fascinating tackle an identical vibe.” I used to be, if something, too self acutely aware about that, and I used to be inclined to be like, “That is fairly completely different.” However in a manner, it’s nearly like Dan, simply with bloody arms.
Crawford: I hear you.
Badgley: I believe what grew to become actually gratifying is as you get into it, particularly I believe Season 2, particularly the second half — episodes seven by means of 10 — which I believe you actually begin to see Joe each attempt to change and worsen. It will get into the psychosis of these things at a extremely detailed degree. I do really feel like I’ve gotten to stretch my legs.
Crawford: On the LSD journey, did you do a little analysis? Your efficiency was wonderful.
Badgley: In my early 20s, I did loads of analysis.
Crawford: Do you’ve gotten any improv?
Badgley: I believe truly the place I improv probably the most, mockingly, is within the voiceover sales space. I’ve developed a belief with the co-creators Greg Berlanti and Sera Gamble. They actually belief me to go in there.
I am going in there alone, save the engineer and a co-producer, and I get nearly no route generally. I simply undergo a complete episode, and we’ve not shot it but typically — in order it comes out of my mouth, you notice there’s one thing about this logic. There’s typically so many various layers of a second: he’s saying one factor to the particular person he’s within the scene with; he’s pondering one other about them; but additionally, this [other] one who possibly he’s killed and they’re within the trunk of his automotive. In the meantime, he’s tweeting or texting or one thing to cowl it up, and then he’s additionally enthusiastic about what he’s going to do within the subsequent scene.
Crawford: That’s quite a bit. You make it so seamless you don’t notice how tough that’s to do.
Badgley: The voiceover, I really feel like that’s my largest contribution to the present. It’s nearly like I’m a voiceover actor first. After which, principally, the remainder of the time I’m simply staring.
I really feel like for you, you might be nonetheless simply scratching the floor of your comedic breadth. I really feel like the entire solid of “Gossip Lady” felt like when you could possibly be given some leeway in your weird model of humor, that it could simply be such an exceptional hit. I’m certain your co-workers on “The Boys” have seen it. However I really feel like you’re a comedic nicely simply ready to be tapped.
Crawford: I’ve lastly bought to let it fly. It’s been enjoyable. I keep in mind I did in “Gossip Lady.” I felt like our scenes specifically had been the one ones I attempted to work it in. I believe among the most enjoyable moments are within the Nate and Dan scenes.
Badgley: Nate was such a tricky character since you had been such the straight man. It was type of like he was so excellent that he solely had wherever to go however down.
Crawford: Yeah, all the time punching his dad. These had been the great days, although. I don’t even keep in mind what our first second was on set. I keep in mind the Palace resort. It was positively my first time experiencing New York. We bought the crimson carpet immediately.
Badgley: That was outstanding. It seems like one other lifetime to me. After I consider being on the Palace, that simply seems like a unique particular person. It seems like one other world, one other life. It’s fairly wild.
Crawford: I’m making an attempt to recollect the identify of the supervisor who would all the time maintain us. We’re sitting there within the courtyard between takes, he’d simply come over and be like, “Digicam love you,” and simply stroll away.
Badgley: He’s the one — when Blake and I went there to eat, it was in all probability after we had been taking pictures there. They’d a grilled cheese sandwich there known as “The Gossip Lady Grilled Cheese Sandwich.” And I used to be like, “You must simply name it ‘The Gossip Grill.’” After which, he took the menu from me and went inside, modified the identify proper there, printed a unique menu and handed me a brand new menu with my suggestion. And I used to be like, “OK. This can be a method to reside.”
Crawford: The brand new children received’t get that remedy [in the “Gossip Girl” reboot for HBO Max].
Badgley: Dude, I’m so to see what it’s like. I want them nicely. I actually am additionally to see how folks react to it.