Penn Badgley Makes Rare Comment About Feeling ‘Overwhelmed’ Following ‘Gossip Girl’ Fame

Learning to adjust. Penn Badgley wasn’t expecting the fame that came with starring in Gossip Girl — and years later, he is still working through the anxiety that he felt following the show’s success.

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“I was coming to terms with having lived half of my life at least in some kind of public eye. I felt the blessings descending, but it was in the form of an anxiety attack and it was pretty intense,” Badgley, 36, shared with Rainn Wilson on an episode of the “Baha’i Blogcast” podcast on Thursday, July 29.

For the actor, who starred on the hit show from 2007 to 2012, an incident during a press tour at a mall really affected his mental health.

Penn Badgley Describes Feeling Overwhelmed Height Gossip Girl Fame
Penn Badgley in ‘Gossip Girl’. CW Network/Kobal/Shutterstock

“I had an anxiety attack that press trip,” Badgley revealed about the appearance two years prior. “And I’m not a person who has that. I mean, look, I have anxieties, I think. I’m human.”

While the You star now looks back at that moment as “profound,” at the time he struggled with putting on a brave face to mask his anxiety.

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“I was 32. I’d been through Gossip Girl and processed that and it still was — I will tell you, the elevator doors opened and what I was met with, it was very hard to smile in the face of what it felt like … It was alarming and it was really hard to process in that moment,” he detailed.

The lesson that the musician did manage to take away from his Gossip Girl run included using his fame and his influence to better the world around him.

Penn Badgley Describes Feeling Overwhelmed Height Gossip Girl Fame
Penn Badgley. Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

“In trying to have a pure intention and honest interaction on these spaces, I also found that I was completely overwhelmed by being conscious of how many likes or retweets or whatever. It was such a convoluted way to be like, ‘acting,'” he added.

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The Maryland native initially struggled when it came to tackling social media because he felt like it was “wrapped up in ego and our materialist culture.” He explained: “It was not the most fulfilling or meaningful contribution that I could make as an individual seeking to better the world.”

Since then, the Easy A star has worked at finding a balance between using social media to help create change while not allowing himself to get caught up in the negative aspects.

“The most meaningful form of action I saw, as a person who’d been on Gossip Girl, as a person who had at this point hundreds of thousands of followers — yeah, because I got on social media late,” he noted. “If I had gotten on in the middle of Gossip Girl, I very well could’ve had millions upon millions — so I was thinking, the most meaningful contribution I have to make as an individual is on these platforms.”

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