On the surface, Blake Lively may look like she has it all. Married to a Hollywood star in Ryan Reynolds and mother to three daughters, she actively stars in movies, and always look incredibly put together. But growing up, Blake was a gangly and withdrawn teenager whose insecurities were a constant source of anguish.
“I was kind of quiet and shy growing up,” Blake admits. “I had problems in high school with some girls. And (as) I was tall, I felt insecure standing out in a crowd when I wanted to be alone, so I spent a lot of time by myself, lost in my thoughts.”
What brought Blake out of her cocoon was the confidence she gained from acting classes.
“It wasn’t until I started acting classes that I was able to overcome my shyness and awkwardness. When I was 15 or 16, I became more outgoing and enthusiastic with people because I had spent so much time being this strange introvert, when deep down, I was longing to have fun and be expressive.”
However, acting was not her career of choice. Blake shares, “My whole life was planned around going to Stanford and getting a university degree. I come from a family of actors and I wanted to do something different. Acting wasn’t glamorous for me because it was just something my siblings and parents did for a living. They weren’t stars, and we were living in Burbank and not Beverly Hills.”
Her brother who was an actor pushed Blake to give acting a go. She reveals, “He thought I'd be good at it, and that I should at least give it a try.”
Struggle With Self-Confidence
It was only a few years later that Blake would burst onto the scene as Serena van der Woodsen on TV’s Gossip Girl. Not only did the role inscribe her into the public imagination, she was also recognised as a fashion icon.
But the rising star still struggled with self-confidence. “Confidence is a strange thing. I was lucky I grew up in a safe and secure home environment with a supportive and loving family. Then, as a young adult living on your own and making your way in life, you can lose that confidence, especially in this business where the media often tries to bring you down and some people take pleasure in criticising your work.
“Self-doubts started to creep into my head even though I was on a very successful TV series. I went through a lot of soul-searching and it took several years to regain my confidence. A lot of that also has to do with struggling to figure out who you are, especially in your 20s.”
Today, she finds herself enjoying life with her husband Ryan Reynolds of Deadpool fame. He has resurrected his career with his billion-dollar “anti-superhero” franchise, and she has maintained a steady workload while raising her children, James, 5, and Inez, 4, and the new baby girl. Her recent work includes The Shallows where she plays a surfer, and a mystery thriller A Simple Favor co-starring Anna Kendrick and Henry Golding.
Blake has come into her own but is still cautious. “I’m less inhibited and more open to people now than when I was a teenager. Acting did that for me. I’m still slow to make friends. I’m not the type who meets someone, and after a few minutes, exchange phone numbers. It takes me time to feel comfortable with someone.”
However, it was different with Ryan. Long before they became romantically involved, Blake sensed something was special about their relationship. “I knew he would always be my best friend for my whole life. That was the biggest thing for me. I’d never known anything like the friendship I had with him. I liked him as much as I came to love him.”
Blake’s new film, action thriller The Rhythm Section, which is scheduled for release in January, marks a distinctive change of pace for the actress who finds herself playing a former heroin addict who transforms her life in pursuing those behind the plot, which resulted in the downing of a passenger jet that killed her parents.
Shot principally in Dublin and Madrid, the film is directed by Reed Morano (The Handmaid’s Tale, Billions) and also co-stars Jude Law. “I did ride-alongs with cops on drug busts and spent a lot of time talking to some addicts, some of whom were just teenagers,” explained Blake about her preparation for the role. “It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.”
She shares that that experience is also very rewarding. “That’s what I love about acting. I get to indulge in heavy psychological states. I’m a happy person but it’s more interesting to play tormented women who struggle in life. Every time I finish a film, I become a stronger person, and that pushing yourself to the maximum leaves you feeling more confident and less fearful.”
Passion For Food
Another thing Blake loves is food. She attended a tailor-made workshop at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, and had a one-night stint as a pastry chef in New York City’s Per Se restaurant. She says, “I like to tell people I’m a cook by nature and an actress by accident! I get passionate about coming up with different dishes, and learning how to create different flavours and tastes.”
The foodie has dreams of being a restauranteur. “I like exploring culinary styles from different cultures and understanding how each country or region developed its own cuisine. One day, I know I’m going to open a restaurant in New York with a (European-inspired) southern-style menu.”
For the last four years, Blake and Ryan have chosen to live away from Hollywood in the quiet town of Bedford in upstate New York with their daughters. To pursue their acting careers with as much passion as ever, they became a mobile family unit, staggering their work schedules and accompanying each other to every film set with children in tow. “We decided we wouldn’t be separated as a family and we'd just make a home for our kids in whichever place we happen to be filming,” she explains.
“We like doing everything together. He says he loves everything I cook for him – he’s such a good liar! We help each other when preparing for a new film. It’s great to be partners like that with someone you love.”
They’re one of Hollywood’s cutest couples, and aren’t afraid to tease and make fun of each other on social media. Here are just some reasons why we find this pair so adorable:
THEY LOVE TEASING EACH OTHER
On her birthday, Ryan sends his wife greetings accompanied by a shot of the pair, but with Blake partially cropped out.
Not to take things lying down, Blake returns the favour. This time, cropping out most of Ryan, leaving the other Ryan (Gosling) in the shot!
THEY SHOW THEIR SUPPORT FOR EACH OTHER
Joining her husband for the premiere of Detective Pikachu, Blake nailed the role of supportive spouse with her cute Pokemoninspired manicure.
From her playful role as Serena van der Woodsen in Gossip Girl to being a kickass assassin in her up-and-coming film The Rhythm Section, Blake has evolved over the years into a sought-after film actress.
2005 The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants
Blake’s career began as one of the four leads in The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants. It earned her a Teen Choice award at just the start of her career.
2007-2012 Gossip Girl
Blake was close to turning the role down for college but ultimately played Upper East Side It girl Serena van der Woodsen while schooling part-time. Fans all over the world are still watching and rewatching the series.
2010 The Town
Despite having a supporting role, Blake’s star still shone as Ben Affleck’s druggie ex-girlfriend. Ben, who also directed the show, said Blake “brought a sense of complexity and nuance to the character that was really important”.
2011 Green Lantern
Blake stars as Carol Ferris, the female lead and girlfriend of Green Lantern Hal Jordan. This was the movie that paired up Blake and now-husband Ryan Reynolds on the big screen, although they were both dating other people at the time.
THEY STILL SHOW A LITTLE JEALOUSY
At the premiere of The Age of Adaline, Lionsgate Movies tweeted a photo and captioned Blake and Michiel Huisman as the “perfect pair”. Ryan reminds everyone of his existence by tweeting “Uh... I can HEAR you”, while showing support with hashtags.
Similarly, Blake is concerned about Ryan’s wandering eyes in this photo of Ryan and Helen Mirren, saying, “Should I be concerned that my husband’s never looked at me this way?”
THEY TAKE THE MICKEY OUT OF EACH OTHER
When Blake found herself in a less-thanglamorous look for The Rhythm Section, Ryan takes it as his social responsibility to post a photo of it on Instagram, captioning it “no filter”.
In an almost proper birthday post, Blake captions “I picked a good one. Happy birthday @ vancityreynolds”, with her finger up his nose.
2015 The Age of Adaline
Blake was commended for her performance in this American romantic fantasy movie where her character stopped ageing after an accident at the age of 29.
2016 The Shallows
Blake soared in The Shallows, in which she starred as a surfer who gets stranded and has to survive a shark attack. The actress gives one of her most solid performances in this taut thriller.
2018 A Simple Favor
Described as the mumnoir equivalent of Gone Girl, Blake captures the audience with her twisted deception while hidden under the veil of a perfect wife to a dreamy husband, played by Henry Golding.
2020 The Rhythm Section
Blake will be flaunting her acting chops as she plays an assassin who wants to uncover the truth behind the plane crash that killed her family. The spy thriller was filmed in Ireland and Spain, with production being halted temporarily after the star injured her hand while filming an action sequence.
TEXT: JANE TAYLOR/FAMOUS / ADDITIONAL REPORTING: CHERRIE LIM / PHOTOS: DAVID SLIJPER / TRUNK ARCHIVE / SNAPPER IMAGES / INSTAGRAM: @BLAKELIVELY & @VANCITYREYNOLDS / TWIITER: @VANCITYREYNOLDS