Blake Lively's audition tape for Gossip Girl has been released to the public, along with the name of the actress who almost beat her out for the part. Loyal Gossip Girl watchers might find it hard to believe that anyone else could have been considered for the role of Serena van der Woodsen -- after all, she played the part so perfectly -- but it's true.
David Rapaport, casting director of the show, recently looked back on the start of the series and recalled that Ashley Olson and Rumer Willis were actually the stars network executives wanted to play Serena van der Woodsen and Blair Waldorf.
Willis did indeed want to play the role Lively eventually ended up nailing, but was surprised when she heard that the CW actually wanted to give her the job originally. With the release of Lively's audition, Rumer talked about her own, admitting to People that it was "awful." She said that it was one of the first auditions she ever did and that she was just "so young." She also recalled being a big fan of the Gossip Girl books and looking forward to the show, which was what sparked her interest in trying out for the part in the first place.
Rumer Willis doesn't seem to have any hard feelings, though. With the honest revelation that her audition was less than satisfactory, as well as the praise she gave Blake Lively and Leighton Meester on their six-season-long performance on the show, she said they were incredible.
Rapaport was the one who fought for Lively and Meester to actually be cast in the show, and he clearly knew what he was doing, considering Gossip Girl's large success. He said that when casting van der Woodsen, he tried to pick a girl that "the audience would instantly fall in love with," and thought that Blake Lively certainly had that quality. He also added that "Blake Lively was literally the only person I could think of for Serena," and that she managed to be beautiful while still being approachable. That, for him, was how Serena van der Woodsen should be.
Another part of the reason David Rapaport liked Lively and Leighton Meester better for the roles is because they weren't as well known as Rumer Willis and Ashley Olsen were at the time. He wanted girls who could really make the series their own, and he believes that this is what they did.
Elaborating on his choice for Meester, he said that she was unique and really held her own. Her character, Blair Waldorf, was known for being quite the mean girl, but Rapaport says that Meester isn't really that way. However, she was the type of girl who could stand on her own two feet, which made her a good fit, and she simply was good at playing the part right from the beginning.
Looking back at Lively's audition, it is clear that while insisting she get the job, David Rapaport was also able to make sure she kept that initial quality he loved in her audition. In the tape, Blake Lively plays Serena with a sweet and remorseful yet confident attitude, which is exactly how the character was played throughout the Gossip Girl series. There are some audition tapes in which the actor or actress does a good job, but the original audition is nothing like the final product. Lively's tape, however, could almost be interchanged with the actual produced version of the scene she is reading for. This is perhaps an even better indication that it went well and that she was meant to have the part.
[Main image courtesy of Alex Wong / Getty images]