For better or worse, Gossip Girl defined teen drama for an entire generation. But the show, which aired on The CW from 2007 to 2012, would have been nothing without iconic frenemies Serena van der Woodsen and Blair Waldorf, played by actresses Blake Lively and Leighton Meester, respectively.
But according to a recent interview with The CW’s casting director David Rapaport, Blake and Leighton were NOT the network’s first choices to play Serena and Blair! Read on to discover the Gossip Girl cast that could have been.
Rapaport revealed that The CW initially wanted Rumer Willis to play the role of wild child Serena van der Woodsen. Rumer, the daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, practically grew up in the spotlight by virtue of her famous lineage, and the then-fledgling network felt that her name attached to the project would be enough to draw in viewers.
“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.”
Katie Cassidy, daughter of The Partridge Family alum David Cassidy, was also considered for the role of Serena. But the part eventually went to leggy California bombshell Blake Lively, who had previously starred in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.
After her stint on Gossip Girl, Blake went on to launch a successful film career, while Rumer Willis and Katie Cassidy found their home on other CW shows. Rumer landed a role on 90210, while Katie currently stars in the superhero drama Arrow.
Another casting near-miss? Ashley Olsen was originally considered for the role of Blair Waldorf, the diminutive dictator of the Upper East Side. But the famous child star, who hadn’t headlined a project since 2004’s New York Minute, was busy running a billion-dollar media and fashion empire, and the role of Blair went to a then-unknown Leighton Meester. It’s hard to imagine the show without Leighton, who transformed the bossy Blair from a scheming villainess to the show’s antiheroine and emotional backbone, singlehandedly equipping an army of teenage girls with power headbands along the way.