‘My adolescence in Hollywood is a running joke’ – Penn Badgley on teen crushes and terrifying low self-esteem | Podcasts

Even when he’s laid up in mattress with Covid, Penn Badgley appears far too good for abnormal people to narrate to. “I’m pleading with people to believe that I’m like them,” he deadpans from beneath a cover, totally conscious of his pin-up standing for fellow woke millennials. The actor, who’s surprisingly charming as he speaks from his sickbed by way of Zoom, says that, regardless of swapping faculty for Hollywood on the age of 14, he was by no means exempt from the common awkwardness, nervousness and heartbreak of adolescence. In truth, it’s solely now that Badgley feels he can revisit these turbulent years – and he has determined to do it for his first ever podcast.

Podcrushed is a collection by which Badgley begins every episode by studying out a listener-submitted story about their most poignant middle-school reminiscence; the primary is from a woman who pretended to have a coronary heart assault in entrance of a crush slightly than be pressured to talk to him. Along along with his buddies and co-hosts – the tremendous likable Sophie Ansari and Nava Kavelin (“We met when Penn was friends with my roommate, and I’d just have to act like it was normal that Penn Badgely was sitting in my kitchen”) – they mirror on their very own experiences of excruciating crushes and low shallowness. With superstar company, corresponding to Badgley’s former co-stars Leighton Meester (Gossip Girl) and Victoria Pedretti (You) thrown into the combo, it’s frothy however considerate – and satisfyingly nostalgic.

Badgley (left) in Gossip Girl, 2007.
Satisfyingly nostalgic … Badgley (left) in Gossip Girl, 2007. Photograph: Andrew Eccles/Cw Network/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

The trio know full properly that, because of Badgley’s presence, Gossip Girl and You followers are going to be tuning in – and so they have a variety of enjoyable exploiting this. Badgley’s literary narration has an enormous Joe Goldberg vibe, solely with out sounding like a serial killer (“A key element!” he factors out). And the themes converse to outcasts who establish along with his Gossip Girl character, Dan “Lonely Boy” Humphrey, who was initially written as the highschool drama’s awkward antidote to Manhattan’s shiny teenage elite.

“People associate me with a certain kind of storytelling,” says Badgley. “We have leaned into it; it just feels natural and fun. My adolescence, and growing up in Hollywood, is a running joke.”

Ansari, an illustrator, and Kavelin, a producer – each of whom have labored in training – have been initially sceptical about how relatable their chisel-jawed Hollywood host and his high-profile company can be. They each questioned: “What awkward experiences did this person have? They are so well put together and beautiful and have everything.” Until they considered it once more: “But child actors need to deal with adult bullshit,” says Kavelin. “Can you imagine that, at 13 years old, a 40-year-old is telling you if you’re attractive enough?”

It’s an expertise Badgley turned all-too-familiar with in his adolescence: “[It’s when] we first become conscious of our bodies. You’re mortified … people treat you based on how they see you. I remember being that age and realising, ‘This is my body and I will not have another body’ – that is terrifying. It was awful when I realised, ‘You’re telling me I’m not going to be 6ft 3?’ [He is 5ft 9].

It wasn’t just crippling doubts about physical appearance: “When I was 12, the roles I was playing weren’t the cool guy. I’m known for playing awkward people – that’s my bread and butter, playing the awkward nice guy. But I had to look like I had my shit together in front of a casting director … The kind of insecurity I experienced was heightened.” But, he provides, “Just to be clear: I’m not asking anyone to care.”

The fact is, individuals do care. We need to know if the teenage heart-throbs we grew up watching on TV had the identical insecurities as us mere mortals. Badgley understands this cultural obsession, however – as somebody who has performed that function greater than as soon as – he worries about what actual representations of teenhood the subsequent technology, together with his personal stepson, might be plugged into.

Penn Badgley in You.
Penn Badgley in You. Photograph: John P Fleenor/Netflix

Is this podcast his manner of reconciling the half he performed in that? “I think so, but not consciously. These are questions we delve into in great length,” he says. “In terms of my own personal reconciliation and my place in all of that, I’m not so sure … but I’m using this time of life as a door into culture and identity and self worth.”

Thinking about what’s on the market for younger individuals to narrate to on-screen at the moment, Ansari talks excitedly about Abbott Elementary – a forthcoming StarzPlay present a couple of Philadelphia public faculty – whereas Kavelin gushes concerning the second she noticed uncovered stretch marks on the leads within the second season of Bridgerton. And what concerning the Gossip Girl reboot: has Badgley watched it to see the way it fares? “I haven’t, no,” he says, grinning.

Down the road, there might be a particular episode of Podcrushed by which all three hosts reveal their most memorable middle-school moments. “Most of my stories usually use something quite painful to get at some point about society,” says Badgley. “That tends to be the way I do it.” With such poetic, softboi strains, you might be left questioning if he isn’t thus far faraway from the classroom crushes he performs in any case.

Podcrushed is out now, with new episodes each Wednesday.

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