It’s a terrifying thought, but we almost lived in a world where Blake Lively and Leighton Meester did not play our favorite scheming Upper East Side best friends Serena van der Woodsen and Blair Waldorf. When the show was originally pitched, The CW was interested in casting Rumer Willis as Blair and Ashley Olsen as Serena.
Despite being the longtime Olsen twins fan that I am, the thought of this pairing is cringeworthy even to me.
Casting director David Rapaport sat down with Buzzfeed and revealed some interesting secrets behind the process of casting Gossip Girl. Casting our real Serena and Blair wasn’t easy and took a lot of convincing from Rapaport to finalize it. Apparently, Blake Lively was too Californian, while Leighton Meester was too blonde.
While the network had other ideas, Rapaport always knew Blake Lively was Serena van der Woodsen.
[She] was literally the only person I could think of…I had seen her in Accepted and 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.
When both actresses walked into the audition room, he knew they were perfect for the roles and worked with them to get the network’s approval. It mainly all went down to their hair. It’s Gossip Girl, obviously the casting process was going to be incredibly superficial. Rapaport said, “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. What’s ironic is, in the pilot, she ends up having the wavy hair.” With Leighton, all they had to do was dye her hair brown because her audition was just so Blair-like.
And Leighton wasn’t a bitch 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.
[Lead image via]