NEW YORK — (AP) — In the original version of “Gossip Girl,” Penn Badgley’s character Dan Humphrey was dubbed Lonely Boy, an introverted teenager who yearned for a fast-forward button for high school. The actor taps into his own familiarity with the angst of a youngster by co-creating and hosting a SiriusXM Stitcher podcast titled “Podcrushed.”
The podcast devoted to the awkwardness of adolescence is released on May 18.
In each episode, Badgley tells a first-person, listener-submitted story about this often turbulent time. Some are funny, some cringe, some are sad. He is then joined by co-hosts – and co-creators – Nava Kavelin and Sophie Ansari to chat with a guest about their own experience. Guests so far include former Badgley co-stars Leighton Meester of “Gossip Girl” and Victoria Pedretti of “You.” Drew Barrymore and Rainn Wilson also visit. The podcast includes a score and animation that hosts will share online.
Badgley and Kavelin share a production company, Ninth Mode. Kavelin told the actor she would do a podcast about adolescence, and to her surprise, despite his busy schedule, he wanted to participate. (David Ansari is also a co-creator.)
“He (Badgley) does an amazing job bringing stories to life, and now I can’t imagine it without him,” Kavelin said.
“I just got really enamored with the stories,” Badgley said on Zoom from London where he’s filming Netflix’s “You,” in which he plays a murderous stalker. “Remembering that time, that’s when I moved to Los Angeles and started to be a professional actor. I think a lot about that time, about the sense of myself that I have. developed since then because of the things I have experienced and witnessed.
The host of emotions that arise about adolescence are universal, the actor said.
“Ask anyone what was going on when they were 12 and you get an answer,” Badgley, 35, said. “You don’t get an answer.”
In an online call for entries, Badgley shared an awkward photo of himself, writing that he was “about two years younger” than most kids in his class. It was “absolutely painful to look younger, shorter and less ‘manly’ than my peers.”
“I feel like everyone has these kinds of pivotal moments that happen to them in middle school that end up becoming shared memories that shape who we are for better or for worse,” Ansari said of the relatability of the show.
It’s also sometimes extremely fun to listen to Badgley, a skilled narrator whose voiceovers are in every episode of “You.”
“It’s really fun to hear Penn talk about a first period and that, like the deep voice, is really interesting,” Ansari said.
Badgley said he loved the opportunity to tell and enjoyed it “more than I maybe appreciate anything”. “If I could have a full-time career as a storyteller, I think I would explore that.”
He’s also keen to find that sweet spot in telling another person’s story that’s both respectful and entertaining. He says he read some submissions that almost brought him to tears, others made his stomach turn.
“We never want it to feel like, ‘Why is this guy reading other people’s stories?’ It’s a lot more like, the fun is that it’s told that way, and then I kind of adopt a character each time.”
Badgley says we can’t stress how crucial adolescence is for development.
“These stories stick in our minds for more than just, ‘It was embarrassing and humiliating and it made me cringe.’ It stands out because these are experiences that form your sense of identity, which underpins every decision you make for the rest of your life.These things can evolve and change, but the experiences you have or don’t have really tell you what is possible.
Sophie Ansari said there was a theme among the women they spoke to in particular. Many have received comments about their appearance as pre-teens that they still remember.
“One thing that almost everyone has experienced is some sort of commentary about their body or just their appearance that has stuck with them for a long time. And often, in fact, those comments are just, like, ridiculous,” Ansari said.
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