Oh, how TV fate might have been different if this actress portrayed Serena van der Woodsen.
In a new interview with Buzzfeed, casting director David Rapaport, responsible for casting shows like Gossip Girl, 90210, Arrow, and The Flash, opened up about what might have been on some of The CW’s biggest hit shows.
“I love seeing movies and TV shows and thinking, Who would I cast in that role? Or reimagining where people might fit,” Rapaport told Buzzfeed. “I feel like you need to learn that gut instinct of what works tonally for [your show] — that’s a learned instinct and it’s also a learned thing to trust your instincts.”
While discussing how to mold the perfect cast, Rapaport dropped a little gem about who else went out for the part of Gossip Girl protagonist Serena van der Woodsen (who was ultimately played by Blake Lively). According to Rapaport, Gossip Girl co-creators Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage tasked him with finding “the next Mischa Barton and Adam Brody,” and he was dead set on delivering.
“Blake Lively was literally the only person I could think of for Serena,” Rapaport said. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t test more young actresses to fill Serena’s Louboutins.
“I read so many people,” the casting director said. “I think at the end of the day, we tested Blake, Katie Cassidy, who is now on Arrow, and this girl who was [Serena] on the Gossip Girl books. Not even her face, just her legs. But it made sense.”
Though Lively was first seen by executives as being too “sunny California,” in the end, the gorgeous then-“It Girl” beat out Katie Cassidy for the top spot. Cassidy did however serve on the show as the secretive, scheming Juliet Sharp in the fourth season. And of course, Cassidy now stars as Laurel Lance (aka The Black Canary) on another CW hit, Arrow.
Here a few more CW tidbits Rapaport spilled during his in-depth interview.
Blair Waldorf was almost played by an Olsen twin…
“I think the network initially pitched us Ashley Olsen and Rumer Willis for Blair and Serena,” Rapaport explained. “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. These lesser-known girls really captured the essence of the show and carried it for six years.”
Taylor Momsen’s transformation on Gossip Girl shocked everyone! Even the man who cast her.
“We were looking for a girl who was on the brink of becoming a woman — I don’t think we saw that goth side yet [because] she was still really young; she was maybe, like, 13 when we cast her.”
Ed Westwick initially tried out for the role of Nate Archibald.
“He read on tape in London and flew out to read for Chuck. He’s menacing and scary, but there’s a twinkle in his eye.”
To read more insider casting secrets check out the full Buzzfeed article here.