Penn Badgley Biography

Musician, Actor (1986–)
Penn Badgley is an American actor and musician best known for starring as Dan Humphrey in The CW's 'Gossip Girl' from 2007-2012.

Who Is Penn Badgley?

Penn Badgley was born on November 1, 1986 in Baltimore, Maryland. When he was 11 years old, Badgley and his mother Lynne relocated to Los Angeles so that he could pursue an acting career. After doing voice work on two Nintendo video games, he landed the role of Phillip Chancellor IV on the daytime soap opera The Young and the Restless in 2000. After appearing in a string of series on The WB, Badgley appeared in his first major film, John Tucker Must Die in 2006. The following year, he began his breakout role as Dan Humphrey on the The CW's hit teen drama Gossip Girl. Badgley has appeared in several films including 2009's The Stepfather, 2010's Easy A, and Greetings from Tim Buckley in 2012. In September 2018, he'll begin playing the role of Joe Goldberg in Lifetime's psychological thriller series YOU. After dating actresses Blake Lively and Zoe Kravitz, he married singer Domino Kirke in February 2017 and is stepfather to her son Cassius. He is also the frontman of the indie band MOTHXR. 

Penn Badgley Photo

Penn Badgley attends the 2018 A+E Upfront on March 15, 2018 in New York City. 

Movies and TV Shows

'The Young and the Restless'

His first professional acting credits involved doing voice work for Nintendo video games "Mario Golf" and "Mario Tennis."

Beginning in 2000, he played the part of Phillip Chancellor IV in the daytime soap opera, The Young and the Restless for 10 episodes. Badgley was nominated for a Young Artist Award for Best Performance in a Daytime Series for the role.

'The Bedford Diaries,' 'John Tucker Must Die'

In 2002 he starred as Joel Larsen in The WB's comedy-drama series Do Over before going to star in two other WB series: The Mountain (from 2004 to 2005) and 2006's The Bedford Diaries.

Also in 2006, Badgley landed his first major film role, playing Scott Tucker in the teen romantic comedy John Tucker Must Die.

'Gossip Girl'

From 2007-2012, Badgley starred as Dan Humphrey (AKA Lonely Boy) alongside Blake Lively, Leighton Meester, Chace Crawford, and Ed Westwick, for six seasons on the CW's New York City-set teen drama series Gossip Girl. Afraid of being typecast, the actor said he initially turned down what would become his breakout role, when he was first approached by Gossip Girl creator Stephanie Savage.

On the verge of taking a job as a waiter, Badgley said producers “couldn't find anybody for it — which is weird, because a million people could play Dan Humphrey." When Savage offered him the role once again, he finally accepted.

Badgley has said he "will always be in debt and grateful" for his six seasons on the hit show, but since the series wrapped in 2012, he's often publicly expressed his displeasure with certain aspects of the series and that he did not identify with his character. "It sucks when people call me 'Dan' and think that I'm him," he once said in an interview.

'The Stepfather'

While still working on Gossip Girl, Badgley also starred as Michael Harding, a serial killer's stepson, in the 2009 thriller film The Stepfather. The following year, he played the love interest of Emma Stone's character Olive in the 2010 teen romantic comedy Easy A. In 2011 Badgley appeared as Seth Bregman in the financial thriller drama Margin Call.

'Greetings From Tim Buckley'

Following his time on Gossip Girl, Badgley earned critical acclaim playing the role of Jeff Buckley in the 2012 indie film Greetings From Tim Buckley. He says he had to shed his Gossip Girl persona for producers, and so he sang a Led Zeppelin-inspired mashup in falsetto for his audition. After taking guitar and vocal lessons for the role, he sang all of his songs in the film that culminated with Jeff Buckley's 1991 performance of his father's songs.

Badgley was also part of the ensemble cast that included Josh Hartnett, Rosario Dawson, Alexis Bledel, and Teresa Palmer in the 2014 romantic drama Parts per Billion.

'The Slap,' 'YOU'

In 2015 Badgley had a recurring role as the much younger boyfriend of a character played by Mary-Louise Parker in NBC's eight-episode miniseries The Slap.

Beginning in September 2018, he will star alongside Shay Mitchell and Elizabeth Lail as bookstore manager-turned-stalker Joe Goldberg in Lifetime's psychological thriller television series, YOU, which was renewed for a second season ahead of its premiere.

Speaking about playing a stalker in the #MeToo era, Badgley has told reporters, “I felt the most troubled by it, which is why [executive producer Greg Berlanti] insisted I was the right guy for the role ... I think it will add to the conversation, it will create its own conversation”

Relationships With Blake Lively, Zoe Kravitz

Badgley dated his Gossip Girl costar Blake Lively from 2007 to 2010. Following their breakup — which they kept secret from their cast mates for months — the pair continued to play love interests (and eventually marry) on the show for its final four seasons. "We were ultimately professional," Badgley has said.

He dated actress Zoe Kravitz (daughter of rocker Lenny Kravitz) for nearly two years before reportedly breaking up in 2013. They had shared a loft apartment in Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood.


In 2014 the actor began dating singer Domino Kirke (sister of Girls' Jemima Kirke and Mozart in the Jungle star Lola Kirke). The pair married in a small courthouse ceremony in Brooklyn, New York, on February 13, 2017. The actor is now stepfather to Kirke's son Cassius, who was born in 2009.


Upon moving to Los Angeles, Badgley was approached by a producer and asked to record a pop song in 1998. He has called the track — which was never released "terrible" and "misguided."

In early 2014, Badgley, as frontman of the indie band now known as MOTHXR, released a song called "Easy" on SoundCloud. After signing with a label, the Brooklyn-based group dropped their debut album Centerfold in February 2016.

Badgley has said he's "written a song for every woman I've been with."

Childhood and Early Acting

An only child, Badgley was born to parents Lynne Murphy and journalist-turned-carpenter Duff Badgley on November 1, 1986 in Baltimore, Maryland. Soon afterward the family moved to a town near Richmond, Virginia, and after living in a series of different locations, they eventually settled in a rural area of Washington State, where Badgley's father eventually became the Green Party candidate for governor in 2000. When a self-described "introverted and chubby" Badgley was eight, he tried out for the Seattle Children's Theatre's production of The Music Man, at his mother's urging. After singing "A Whole New World" from Disney's Aladdin for his audition, he was selected to play the part of Winthrop.

When Badgley was 11 years old, he and his mother moved from Washington to Los Angeles so that he could pursue a career in acting. The following year, his parents divorced, and when he was 13, he passed a state of California high school equivalency exam, allowing him to devote all of his time to acting.

Fact Check

We strive for accuracy and fairness. If you see something that doesn't look right, contact us!