Penn Badgley is an American actor and musician best known for his role as Dan Humphrey on the TV series Gossip Girl.


Badgley was born on Nov. 1, 1986 (Penn Badgley age: 31) in Baltimore, Maryland, to parents Lynne Murphy Badgley and Duff Badgley. His father worked as a newspaper reporter, carpenter and later was the Green Party candidate for governor of Washington in 2008. Badgley’s mother produced the short film Moth (2009) and starred in The Hollywood Complex (2011) as herself. The two divorced when Badgley was 12-years-old.

During his childhood, Badgley lived in Richmond, Virginia, and Seattle, Washington. While in Seattle, he participated in the local children’s theater and did voice-overs for a children’s radio station, discovering his love for acting. One summer, he moved to Hollywood where he landed an agent and began pursuing his dream.

At 14, Badgley finished his California High School Proficiency Exam and began attending Santa Monica City College. He was also later accepted to the University of Southern California, but deferred admission to instead attend Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. As a child, he attended Charles Wright Academy, Wooldridge Elementary and St. Christopher’s School. Aside from acting, he also liked playing soccer when he was young.

Badgley has said that his first name was inspired by the Pilot Pen tennis ball. His frustrated father was bouncing one while thinking of baby names and when his mother got an ultrasound, he thought the baby looked like a tennis ball. With that, he became Penn Badgley. He jokes that he’s happy to be named Penn rather than other tennis brands like Dunlop or Wilson.

He is of Irish, English, German, Scottish, Dutch and Welsh descendent. Interestingly, one of his great-grandfathers was an immigrant from Jamaica, possibly adding Afro-Jamaican roots to his heritage.


Badgley earned his first credit for voice-overs in Nintendo’s Mario Gold 64 and Mario Tennis 64 in 1999 and 2000. As for acting, he began appearing on TV shows such as Will & Grace, DaddioThe Brothers García, and What I Like About YouBadgley’s recurring work on The Young and the Restless was nominated for the Young Artist Award for Best Performance in a Daytime Series in 2001. He was only 15 when he was nominated.

In 2002, Badgley went on to star in the comedy-drama series Do Over and later on The Mountain and The Bedford Diaries. In 2006, he landed his first major film role as Scott Tucker in John Tucker Must Die. After that high-grossing film, he performed in the black comedy horror movie Drive-Thru the following year.

Badgley’s role as Dan Humphrey on Gossip Girl became his most well known. He actually turned down the role twice before eventually accepting it when the producers were struggling to find another actor. For his work on The CW’s series, he was nominated twice for the Teen Choice Drama Actor Award.

After and during Gossip Girl, Badgley landed roles on more movie sets such as The Stepfather (2009), Easy A (2010) alongside Emma StoneMargin Call (2011) and Parts per Billion (2014).

In one of his most recent films, The Paper Store (2016), he won two awards for his role as a lead actor, playing Sigurd Rossdale.

Badgley also has a passionate love for music. In 1998, he recorded a pop single. In early 2014, his band M O T H E R released a song called “Easy” that gained a decent amount of popularity. However, the band later renamed itself MOTHXR due to a cease-and-desist from a band of a similar name. In 2015, they signed with music labels Kitsuné and Washington Square Music. The following year, MOTHXR released their debut album Centerfold.


Badgley sat down with co-star Stef Dawson at uInterview’s New York offices to discuss the challenges of filming their movie The Paper Store.

“In general, it was a lot of fun, it was also daunting. I don’t remember, it’s almost sort of a wash at this point because also when you’re making an omnipotent film, which we shouldn’t shy away from examining this case because we’re really happy to be exploring platforms like this one and others where this is not like a huge blockbuster, big budget. We’re making this thing in very little time, with not a lot of money, which I think we should be really proud about because we’ve got to be finding other ways to make media,” Badgley said. “And then within that, this movie is incredibly self-referential to media of all types because the degree Sigurd is aspiring for is, or the class he’s hiring her for, is in media studies. So, it’s really just this beautifully convoluted piece that was originally set for the stage, so I think taking it to the screen meant finding a space that you need in a film for the intimacy and the patience and the time that you don’t necessarily always have in the same way you would in a play, they’re just different mediums. I think getting the words out in time so that then we could also create the space, maybe that was some of the challenge.”

Badgley told us about his first acting experience, where he played a role in a musical that his mother had to drive him 50 miles to audition for.

“Well, the first thing was Will & Grace when I was 12-years-old. I’ve been doing this for like 20 years now. I loved performing as a child, I was extremely introverted, somehow discovered it in maybe I think a summer camp for theater, which my mom recently told me,” Badgley said. “This is news to me, I have no recollection. By the time I was nine and living in the sticks of Washington state and not going to school, my mom I think felt a real need to get me into some kind of social environment.”


Penn Badgley dated co-star Blake Lively from 2007 to 2010 during their time on Gossip Girl. Though the two knew each other since they were 11-years-old. He said she was both his best and worst on-screen kissing experience because their characters were still together after they had broken up in real life.

He quietly married Domino Kirke, also an actress, in February 2017 in a New York courthouse. By marriage, Badgley has one stepson. They’ve yet to have children together. Before Kirke, he was in an on-and-off relationship with Zoe Kravitz from 2011 to 2013. The musician claimed to have written a song for every woman he’s been with.

Badgley has a tattoo of a feather on his right leg. He has an estimated net worth of $8 million. He’s on Twitter and Instagram as @PennBadgley.


“I want to be an actor. I don’t want to be a celebrity. They are two different things and people have forgotten that they are different.”

“I would say, it is a huge commitment to make. I mean it’s amazing that someone chooses to do this for a living and I would encourage it no matter who you are but I think that you just have to realize that it’s a life commitment the same way that someone might commit themselves to becoming a lawyer or a doctor. You know, you go to law school for seven years, I had been in LA for eight years. I feel like that is the equivalent of you know, paying your dues. It’s a lot of work and you can’t really treat it casually if you really want to succeed but it is the best job there is, I think. So if you can do it, I would say, go right ahead.”

“Passion is number one and trust is number two. You need to start with a passionate connection, and if you can maintain it and cultivate it, that’s most important. Then trust can develop.”


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