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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Dan Humphrey and Michael Harding have one thing in common: They are both outcasts.

Penn Badgley, who plays Dan Humphrey in the hit series "Gossip Girl," is branching out with his role in the movie "The Stepfather," which opens in theaters Oct. 16.

In the film, Badgley plays the role of Michael, who returns home from military school and finds his mother living with her new boyfriend. Michael is suspicious of his mother's boyfriend, who he thinks might have appeared on "America's Most Wanted."

Badgley said the film is different from other horror movies because it is obvious who the killer is from the first scene, unlike a game of Clue when the audience is guessing who the killer could be.

"This is a broader thriller," he said during a Monday conference call with college media outlets. "I think there's more of a story that will draw you in and keep you invested as opposed to relying on gimmicks."

Because the audience already knows who the killer is, the film has to end in a battle between the stepson and stepfather, he said.

"The Stepfather" is a remake of a 1987 thriller that featured a stepdaughter instead of a stepson.

"I think they changed that to make the relationship between the stepfather and my character to be one where you can only see one of two ways for it to end, and that's probably one of them dying," he said during the conference call.

To prepare for the role, Badgley did push ups, pull ups, practiced screaming and anything to let the "blood rush to his head," he said. Badgley would try to "exhaust himself to make it seem real" during scenes when the killer is chasing him through the house, he said.

"In order to make it [real] you have to really amp yourself up," he said.

He also did some of his own stunts, which he has never had to do in his previous roles. "I have the bruises and scrapes to prove it," he said.

Badgley was attracted to the part of the stepson because it was a different type of role and experience, he said.

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One of Badgley's most memorable experiences on the set was when the actors shot a sequence that takes place outside on a rooftop with movie rain, which is really heavy so it will show up on camera.

The three days they shot it were the only three days the temperature was below 50 degrees in L.A. He was wearing a thin cotton T-shirt and jeans and was soaked the whole time.

Although he said it was close to "unbearable" at the time, he said he learned a lot throughout the process of filming a big picture.

Badgley said making the transition from television to film branching was "seamless."

"It was a very natural progression," he said. "It wasn't so much that I was really conscious of changing from one role to another."

He said one of the main differences is that in a television series you have many chances to get the moment right, but in a film there is only one chance.

After his role as Dan in "Gossip Girl," he said this film was an "interesting next step."

"I think Michael, who is the kid in 'The Stepfather,' comes from a very different place I think mentally, emotionally than Dan," Badgley said. Michael's character is "less confident in his own skin," whereas, Dan is comfortable being alienated.

He said he identifies with Michael more because Michael has problems, unlike Dan who is "pretty ordinary in most ways."

To prepare for the role as Michael, he had to act like he's never seen a horror film and "find something real" to compel him, he said.

"I think it was a surprising task doing this movie," Badgley said. "It was difficult."

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