Blake Lively's Tragic, Real-Life Story

The following article contains references to sexual harassment.

Blake Lively made a name for herself when she landed her breakout role as Bridget in 2005's "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants." Not only did she become an overnight sensation, but the film led to her most famed role on "Gossip Girl," solidifying her career in Hollywood. Over the course of two decades, Lively has had an incredible transformation. She's starred in several movies and shows, started a family with a Hollywood leading man, and even became a business owner, launching her own line of beverages called Betty Buzz.

She was practically born to be an actor, as her father and her three siblings followed the same path. In an August 2010 issue of Interview magazine, Lively explained, "I have a big, close, loving family, and they're all from the South, but because so many of them are actors, everyone was very normal about it. It was just like any job to them. They always came home and talked about it around the dinner table the way any family talks about work, but it wasn't anything special." Despite this, life hasn't always been easy for Lively.

From being the target of bullies early on to the relentless gossip and unkind words she's endured throughout her adult life, Lively has had to grow a thick skin. In addition, the actor has faced deception, injuries, insecurity, and a heartbreaking death in the family over the years. 

Blake Lively was bullied as a kid

Today, Blake Lively's height of 5 feet, 10 inches is one of her many advantages as she can rock stunning gowns, kiss Ryan Reynolds without standing on her tippy toes, and probably reach things on the top shelf of the grocery store. The actor was tall for her age when she was young, too, and as Lively told Marie Claire in November 2009, her mom used it to benefit her brother.

"When I was only 3 years old, my mom enrolled me in the first grade," she explained. "My older brother was supposed to start school, but he didn't want to go alone, so my mom told them I was 6 since I was so tall." Eventually, she was pulled out of school because her teacher realized she wasn't as up to speed as the other kids. Unfortunately, Lively's staggering height has also resulted in some difficult years, as she became a target for bullies.

In April 2018, Lively shared a snap on Instagram of herself next to Big Bird from "Sesame Street." Alongside the photo, she wrote, "Kids used to make fun of me in elementary school by calling me Big Bird (because I was 'too tall' and had 'yellow' hair). Here's to making best buddies with the things that once hurt you." Thankfully, since this time, Lively has shown her past bullies time and again that being tall has its perks.

She was often picked on for clothes

Blake Lively's name has become synonymous with iconic red carpet looks, and it is no wonder, given that her mother is a former model who used to make and tailor clothes for the star when she was a kid. "[My mom] just did that because she was so creative and because she didn't want me to be dressed in big T-shirts cinched with a plastic clip like all the rest of the kids," she told Vogue in February 2009. However, this passion for unique fashion choices came at a cost when Lively enrolled at a new school as a second-grader.

"It was the only school where people were just downright mean to me. They would make fun of my clothes because I dressed differently than the other kids," the actor continued. But despite her childhood bullies' unkind words, Lively continued to forge her own style over the years, and she's done it all herself.

As she told Vogue in a May 2022 "Life in Looks" segment, she explained, "I don't work with a stylist, I never have." Even during the time she was working on "Gossip Girl," Lively would just borrow whatever was available in the wardrobe department. Given how frequently the star has been praised for her memorable fashion moments, it is a relief to see that Lively didn't let her childhood bullies discourage her from putting her true, authentic self out there.

Blake Lively was misled when she signed on to Gossip Girl

By 18, Blake Lively had decided she was going to quit acting and enroll in college, but it was at this time that she was approached to play the lead in the CW's latest show, "Gossip Girl." When the show premiered in 2007, the cast of up-and-coming actors were catapulted to fame. Signing on to play the character may have been the best decision for Lively's career, as roles began pouring in during and after the show's six seasons. However, the actor later claimed she was sold the show under false pretenses.

During an August 2017 interview with Vanity Fair, the actor revealed that she initially turned down the role. "I said, 'No, I want to go to college. Thank you, though.' Then they said, 'O.K., you can go to Columbia [University] one day a week. After the first year [of the show], it'll quiet down. Your life will go back to normal and you can start going to school. We can't put it in writing, but we promise you can go.' So that's why I said, 'O.K. You know what? I'll do this,'" Lively explained.

Unfortunately, as she put it, there was a reason they couldn't put this agreement in writing. "Gossip Girl" blew up and, by the time she was filming the second season, Lively was working 15 to 18 hours a day, nine months out of the year.

Filming The Shallows was physically taxing

When actors take on action-packed movies, they often have to do some serious training to get into shape. For example, when Blake Lively began filming 2016's "The Shallows," she'd just had a baby, so she began an intensive workout program to lose weight and prepare for the bikini-wearing, surfing, and real-life stunts she would be performing herself in the film. While there's an element of authenticity when actors perform their own stunts in movies, it can also lead to exhaustion and injuries — both of which Lively suffered while filming.

Lively spoke with Entertainment Weekly in June 2016 about the physical toll the movie put on her, saying, "There's a scene where I'm swimming up to the buoy and I crack my face under water and my nose is pouring blood and that was real. ... I thought, 'I'm going to keep going during this take unless I pass out.' ... I was in so much pain for a week."

In addition to the injury she suffered, Lively explained that they filmed in both tanks and in the ocean, with both settings having different drawbacks. "When we were in the tank, there were so many chemicals my skin would just fall off. ... Then you're rubbing against these rocks and these buoys. Your body is just really taking a beating," the actor remarked. Fortunately, Lively's efforts resulted in a fun creature feature and demonstrated her range as an actor.

She gets a lot of hate online

Blake Lively has been the subject of harsh criticism and rumors. Her talents as an actor have been torn apart, some of movies have received poor reviews, and she's been chastised for her online commentary. Some of Lively's co-stars haven't been her biggest fans either, including Anna Kendrick and Leighton Meester. Lively has learned that you can't please everyone, and she's tried not to let it get her down.

During a July 2014 interview with Vogue, she expressed the amount of unkind things she's read about herself and how she handles it. "There have been so many things written about me that are untrue and horrifying. I can't even believe that my family has to read this stuff." She added, "You just have to do what makes you happy, because you'll never get a unanimous vote. People like to gossip. They bond over it. They don't bond over complimenting famous people."

Despite her optimistic outlook, the actor revealed that she struggles with what she reads about herself online during Variety's "7 Secrets" segment in April 2017. Lively was asked whether she'd ever Googled herself, to which she replied, "I have before and it's just ended in full depression, so I think it's a good rule of thumb not to Google yourself because the internet is not nice."

Blake Lively was sexually harassed by a makeup artist

When the stories of Harvey Weinstein's sexual misconduct broke in October 2017, Hollywood faced a shift in the way sexual assault and harassment is handled. Many celebrities spoke out in solidarity about their own experiences, prompting the #MeToo Movement to take hold. Around this time, Blake Lively told The Hollywood Reporter that the news of Weinstein was "devastating to hear," as she'd known and worked with the film producer for years. However, the actor also added that it was crucial to listen to the women who were coming out about their assaults and that this situation is prevalent in every industry.

In October 2017, Lively revealed to the Los Angeles Times her own experience with sexual harassment, recounting a frightening ordeal with her on-set makeup artist. "He was saying things inappropriately, insisting on putting my lipstick on with his finger. I was sleeping one night on location and I woke up and he was filming me. I was clothed, but it was a very voyeuristic, terrifying thing to do," she recounted.

Lively went on to explain that she'd complained to the producers for months and, when they did nothing to remedy the situation, she escalated the issue to her lawyer. The makeup artist was eventually fired but, as Lively added, "Our unit production manager wrote him a letter of recommendation because nobody wanted there to be bad blood."

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

She shattered her hand while filming The Rhythm Section

In 2020, Blake Lively starred in the action flick "The Rhythm Section" alongside Jude Law and Sterling K. Brown. She played a woman who seeks revenge on those who orchestrated the death of her family, and it was yet another project in which the actor performed her own stunts. Again, it resulted in Lively hurting herself, but rather than the bonk on the nose and the broken skin she got while filming "The Shallows," the star's injury this time around was more serious and even required a hospital visit.

While promoting the movie on "Good Morning America" in January 2020, Lively explained how she hurt her hand while filming back in December 2017. "There's one-shot fight sequences, which is how I shattered my hand. We shut down [production] for six months. My hand basically turned into feta cheese," she said. "I was lunging towards Jude Law with my fake rubber knife and my hand collided with his elbow," she added. "I broke some things and dislocated some things and severed a ligament," she remarked. Lively added with a laugh, "But that's why you guys have to see this movie, out of sheer guilt. I gave my right hand for something!"

Blake Lively deals with body insecurities

If you're already person who struggles with your self-image, it can't be easy if photos of you are always popping up online and in magazines. Over the years, Blake Lively has been transparent about her insecurities about her body. She even told her fans not to compare themselves to her while speaking with Harper's Bazaar in April 2018: "99.9 percent of the time the images are Photoshopped. I'm guilty myself of being at a photo shoot and saying, 'That looks terrible on me.' And they're like, 'We'll fix it.'"

Lively's insecurities spiked around the time she had given birth. She and her husband, "Deadpool" actor Ryan Reynolds, have welcome four children between 2014 and 2023, which means that Lively has spent a significant amount of time with a pregnant or postpartum body.

In February 2021, she posted a throwback photo of herself on her Instagram Story and used the opportunity to share how she'd been struggling with her body at the time. "No one had samples that fit me after giving birth. And so many clothes from stores didn't fit either. ... It doesn't send a great message to women when their bodies don't fit into what brands have to offer. It's alienating and confusing." Thankfully, Lively added that despite her prior feelings, she's now proud of her body, as it created her children and sustained them.

She doesn't get enough credit for Ryan Reynolds' projects

Not only is Ryan Reynolds a talented actor, producer, family man, and doting husband, but he's also done a lot of writing for his projects. He's been credited for his writing on "Deadpool" and "Welcome to Wrexham," but as the actor revealed while on SiriusXM's "The Jess Cagle Podcast with Julia Cunningham," (37:31) in August 2021, Blake Lively has actually contributed to a lot of his work.

As Reynolds explained, "There's a lot of A++ writing that I've done that was actually Blake. ...  Blake would jump in, grab the keyboard and [say] 'What about this?' And I'd be like, 'That's incredible.'" He continued, saying, "Maybe it's because there's inherent sexism in the business. I will say that a lot of times, 'She wrote that, Blake wrote that not me. That was her.' And they still, later on, repeat the story as [if] I wrote it."

While she may not always get enough credit for her work, Lively and Reynolds have proven to be a dynamic duo and supported one another's careers for years. This has been a crucial element of their relationship, as they made an agreement not to take on projects at the same time as each other in order to prioritize their lives outside of work. So, if you're wondering whether Lively and Reynolds will ever be in another movie together, the odds aren't too likely.

Her dad died in 2021

Blake Lively had a close relationship with her dad, longtime actor Ernie Lively, before he died in June 2021 from heart-related issues. He and his daughter even appeared together in "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants," with Ernie playing Lively's dad on screen. The "Hick" star has been outspoken about how much her relationship with her family impacts her day to day, telling People back in December 2020, "It all goes back to family. It has always been the most important thing in my life — everything I do is at the heart of it."

Ernie had previously told People about undergoing heart surgery in 2013, when he became the first patient to have retrograde gene therapy performed on his heart. "I woke up the other morning and told my wife, 'I haven't felt this good in years.' I moved to Utah because of the snow, but I haven't been able to ski. I literally didn't have the heart to do it. Now, I'm excited about living the rest of my life instead of sitting around," he told the publication.

As of this writing, Lively still hasn't spoken publicly about her father's death, instead opting to mourn privately. However, she did share a photo of herself and her dad as a tribute on her Instagram story. About a week later, on Father's Day, Lively posted another sweet snap on Instagram, this time of her dad with Ryan Reynolds, and she captioned the post, "My guys."