What does Penn Badgley have in common with a tennis ball? A lot actually.
The actor’s moniker came after his father bounced a Penn tennis ball while feeling frustrated about choosing a baby name. After seeing his son’s ultrasound, Papa Badgley commented how much his son looked like a tennis ball–and boom–the rest is history. Thankfully, we no longer see the resemblance.
Although he didn’t grow up to become the male equivalent of Serena Williams, Penn did finish high school at just 14 and dabbles in music, like many of his Gossip Girl costars. The Baltimore-born actor packed his bags for Hollywood at 11, and landed a gig on The Young and the Restless. Behind the long locks, you may also recognize him as Scott Tucker in John Tucker Must Die.
Keeping the ball rolling, Penn continued to appear on the big screen in The Stepfather and the soccer fanatic even joined forces with Brad Pitt to champion bringing the FIFA World Cup to the United States in 2018 or 2022.
Oh, and–shh!–his guilty pleasure isn’t writing novels in Brooklyn; it’s watching Friends reruns.