Sometimes the biggest obstacles in our lives can be the biggest blessings, and the fact that Jennifer Lawrence auditioned for Gossip Girl is proof. Now, you might be thinking to yourself — "Huh, I don't remember J. Law being in Gossip Girl." And if that's the case, then your memory is correct: The 27-year old wasn't cast. The Oscar winner reportedly auditioned for Serena van der Woodsen as a teenager, and didn't make it terribly far in the casting process. In fact, the show's co-creator, Josh Schwartz, didn't even remember that Lawrence had tried out. During a yet-to-be-released interview with Vulture for the show's 10th anniversary, Schwartz revealed,
"We did not realize this at the time, but Jennifer Lawrence really wanted to play Serena and auditioned. This story came to us secondhand, but we were told she definitely auditioned and was bummed to not get it. We can’t remember if we saw it or not. It was ten years ago, and she would’ve been how old, 15?"
Sixteen, actually, as Vulture pointed out, but in any case — it's easy to understand why the Mother star would have been disappointed not to get the part. And yet, with a little hindsight, it's possible to argue that this letdown was one of the most important moments of Lawrence's career. And not just in the learning-humility-and-the-importance-of-never-giving-up way, either. There's a strong possibility that winning the role of Serena over Blake Lively in 2006 would've actually stunted Jennifer Lawrence's career.
Even though they operate within the same industry, there's always been a divide between film and television. Each requires the same skillset from performers, and there's a similar range of talent on both sides, but there's fairly minimal crossover. There are movie actors and there are television actors, and it's difficult to move freely between the two worlds, particularly when you begin in the world of TV. The list of stars who have successfully done so is short enough that they can be covered in a single article, like Pop Sugar's "26 Movie Stars You Forgot Were On TV." That number includes standouts like George Clooney, who started on ER; Jennifer Aniston, who began on Friends; and Will Smith, who got his start on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
But within that subset, the list of young women who made the leap from small screen to silver screen is even shorter. When it comes to those who started as teens and went on to find significant success in films, there's Shailene Woodley (The Secret Life of the American Teenager), Mila Kunis (That '70s Show), Claire Danes (My So-Called Life), and Michelle Williams (Dawson's Creek). And that's... pretty much it. Anne Hathaway starred in a show called Get Real, but it only aired for one season, which made her less recognizable from TV and gave her a little more wiggle room in her career.
Much longer is the list of TV star teens who soared to stardom on TV, and then had to dedicate a significant portion of their careers trying to get taken seriously in other fields. Just look at Disney and Nickelodeon stars like Selena Gomez, Hilary Duff, and Miley Cyrus, who have struggled to shake their early television personas. Even Gossip Girl stars Leighton Meester and Lively have yet to find movie roles that fully eclipse their memorable TV performances.
If Lawrence had started out this way, on a smash hit teen drama like Gossip Girl, she might still be trying to shake audience expectations. It's true, she would've gotten famous about three years earlier than she did — Winter's Bone came out in 2010 — but at what cost? With a role like Serena van der Woodsen at the top of her résumé, it's unlikely that the Kentucky native would have been considered for a gritty part like the Ozarkian Ree Dolly. And even if she had, it's less likely that her first major film role post-TV credits would have netted her an Oscar nomination.
For example, Williams wrapped Dawson's Creek in 2003, and had four movies already in the can before she earned a nod for Brokeback Mountain in 2006. And 11 years and four nominations later, she still has yet to win. And that's just the best-case scenario; the rest of the young women on the list above have yet to receive their first Academy Award nominations. In contrast, Lawrence has been nominated for four in six years, and even has some hardware from 2013 and Silver Linings Playbook.
In the end, it's impossible to know what Lawrence would have done with a career that we'll never get to see. But it's highly likely that she wouldn't be the A-lister we know and love today if she'd started out on TV. She'd still be working to help her audience forget her days on the Upper East Side, dating Dan Humphrey on-and-off again, and being best frenemies with Blair Waldorf.
Ultimately, that small disappointment of missing out on the role of Serena van der Woodsen paid huge dividends down the line. It helped Lawrence avoid one of the trickiest pitfalls a young actor can face, and set her up for the massive successes she's enjoying now. And as a bonus, she doesn't have to spend the rest of her career trying to explain that bonkers Gossip Girl finale.