It’s tough to imagine what ‘Gossip Girl’ would have been like without Blake Lively and Leighton Meester — they are Serena and Blair, right? Well, they almost weren’t.
CW’s casting director Dave Rapaport is revealing Gossip Girl secrets that are seriously blowing our minds. While he was absolutely obsessed with Blake Lively for the role of Serena Van Der Woodsen, he just revealed that it was actually Ashley Olsen who was actually pitched for the spot — and Leighton Meester wasn’t initially the pick for Blair Waldorf, either.
“I think the network initially pitched us Ashley Olsen and Rumer Willis for Blair and Serena,” Dave told BuzzFeed. “I love Rumer; she’s grown into quite an amazing actress and person, but that, to me, was based on protecting the investment of a television show where creatively, these lesser-known girls really captured the essence of the show and carried it for six years.”
He also went on to say Blake stole his heart right away, after seeing her in Accepted. “At that time, there were no Lena Dunhams or Zooey Deschanels — it was all about beauty and glamour, but being approachable and Blake was the ultimate It Girl,” he said. “I was terrified we wouldn’t get her or they wouldn’t like her because, honestly, they show lived and died on her and I had absolutely no other ideas. And I read so many people. I think at the end of the day, we tested Blake, Katie Cassidy, who is now on Arrow, and this girl who was [Serena] on the Gossip Girl books. Not even her face, just her legs. But it made sense.” Shop ‘Gossip Girl’ Complete Series
With Blake as “the front-runner,” they did a screen test — but the reply was that she was “sunny California,” not “an Upper East Side debutante.” So they brought up Mischa Barton, who was from NY, but definitely appeared to be a Cali girl in The O.C. “So we did another screen test with Blake and all we did was straighten her hair to make her look a little more sophisticated, so to speak,” Dave added. “What’s ironic is, in the pilot, she ends up having the wavy hair. From there on out, so much of the casting on Gossip Girl became about the hair because Leighton Meester is naturally blonde and the way we got her the job was we dyed her hair. Ultimately they were the best actors for it and brought something really special to their roles.”
Leighton Became Blair Right Away
As for Leighton, she was the perfect fit, according to Dave, since she didn’t come in trying to flirt or be his best friend. “Leighton wasn’t a bi-ch when she came in, but she wasn’t overly nice or overly generous. She was professional and she did the job and played the role well, and what I liked about her is that she owned who she was. She wasn’t going to kiss everyone’s ass and that was very Blair,” he said.
Well clearly, it was the perfect fit, because no one else could be Blair and Serena. Right?
— Emily Longeretta