The Transformation Of Blake Lively From Childhood To 33 Years Old

Blake Lively has been in the spotlight for a more than a decade — and has been captivating audiences for exactly that long. She debuted on the silver screen as one of four best friends in the comedy-drama "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" in 2005, a role for which she was nominated for a Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Breakout Performance. It seemed that the actor was slated to turn into gold whatever she touched. Just two years after starring in Ken Kwapis' commercial success, Lively went on to portray "it girl" Serena van der Woodsen in the CW's teen drama "Gossip Girl," a role that immediately put her on the map and on the screens of any teenaged girl and young woman. 

"Gossip Girl" defined a generation between 2007 and 2012, as E! Online described, with Lively's Serena and Leighton Meester's Blair Waldorf becoming fashion inspirations not only for fans of the show, but also for designers. In fact, given the show's popularity, designers did what they could for an opportunity to dress them, according to Insider. "We have girls coming in with magazine tear sheets of Blake Lively or Leighton Meester, from location shootings or from everyday life," Tory Burch, one of the designers featured on the show, told The New York Times in 2008.

It's often difficult for actors to develop a meaningful career following huge success on TV, but Lively managed to transition into films. Keep scrolling to check out Lively's transformation over the years.

Blake Lively is named after her grandmother's brother

As the daughter of late actor Ernie Lively and talent manager Elaine Lively, Blake was born into a family firmly rooted in the entertainment industry who were not afraid to give their daughter a unique name, as W Magazine pointed out. In a 2006 interview with Radio Free Entertainment, Blake shared that she was named after her maternal great-uncle. The idea came when her sister was writing down names for a family tree and her parents decided that they would name their new baby after her grandmother's brother. But her parents had agreed that they would use Blake if they had a boy and Blakely if they had a girl. "[E]verybody thought I was going to be a boy... they had already been calling me Blake for months because they were positive I was going to be a boy. And they had been calling me Blake for so long, they just [kept it]," she said.

Because she grew up in the industry, Blake considered a career in acting a "nightmare," she told Radio Free Entertainment. "[I]t was so much a part of my life that I never felt a desire for it. And it seemed like such a nightmare," Blake said. Still, her father cast her in his 1998 low-budget directorial debut, "Sandman," when she was only 10, The Hollywood Reporter noted. However, she has described her role as a "bit part" that did not have much influence on her later career choices, per Marie Claire.

Blake Lively started acting to 'appease' her brother, actor Eric Lively

Blake Lively was a studious teenager who had her mind set on snagging a spot at Stanford University, she told Radio Free Entertainment. She did her part to make that possible. She took AP classes, was class president, and participated in a series of school activities, like show choir and cheerleading, evidence with which she has entertained her Instagram fans. She probably would have reached her goal if it had not been for her brother, actor Blake Lively, who is almost six years older than her. When Blake was 15, her brother took her on a trip around Europe, where the siblings had lots of opportunities to share meaningful conversations. One of those involved Eric urging his lil' sister to start thinking about her future, she told Radio Free.

A year later, Eric declared Blake was slated to be an actor and contacted his own agents to ask them to look for parts suitable for her. "I didn't want to make him mad because he's such a good brother, so I just went on auditions to appease him," she said. It also took Blake a few months to land her role in 2005's "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants." She was 17 and filmed it between her junior and senior years at Burbank High School, per W Magazine. "And I knew that that's what I wanted to do, just because I had such a blast," she told Radio Free.

'Gossip Girl' defined Blake Lively's career early on

Blake Lively was 20 and a couple years' into her career — which involved starring in minor films like "Accepted," "Simon Says" and "Elvis and Anabelle" — when she nabbed the role of Serena van der Woodsen on "Gossip Girl," a character she portrayed for 121 episodes over five years. Lively had not considered dabbling in TV, having made films her priority, per W Magazine. "I've been learning as I'm going along. I thought, 'Okay, I'll try a movie.' And I was loving films, so I thought, 'No, I don't want to try TV.' But now I'm loving being on the show more than I ever could have imagined. It has been just the most amazing experience anybody could ever ask for," she told the magazine.

"Gossip Girl" was created by Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, of "The O.C." fame, meaning they had learned some things about teen dramas. As fans remember vividly, "The O.C." saw one of its main characters, played by Mischa Barton, killed off by Season 3, leading to a rushed season finale a year later. "We learned a lot of lessons [on 'The O.C.'] and its kind of crazy four-year run that we wanted to take and apply to something moving forward," Schwartz told Vanity Fair. Fans of the "Gossip Girls" book series essentially decided that Lively would be Serena. Before casting, Schwartz browsed online message boards. "We didn't see a lot of other girls for Serena," Schwartz said.

Blake Lively met Ryan Reynolds while working on 'Green Lantern'

"Gossip Girl" made Blake Lively a household name. That can be both a blessing and a curse. But even while filming her career-defining TV series, Lively continued to star in films, adding to her repertoire as she continued to shine bright as Serena van der Woodsen. In 2009, she appeared in Rebecca Miller's "The Private Lives of Pippa Lee," sharing the screen with the likes of Robin Wright, Maria Bello, Keanu Reeves, Alan Arkin and Winona Rider. A year later, she starred in "The Town" alongside Ben Affleck, which took the No. 1 spot at the box office on its opening weekend with a whopping $23.8 million, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.

In 2010, she met Ryan Reynolds when they were cast in "Green Lantern," making their first joint appeared that July at Comic-Con in San Diego to promote the film, per Elle. At that point, their relationship was strictly professional, as Lively was dating "Gossip Girl" co-star Penn Badgley and Reynolds was married to Scarlett Johansson. Lively and Reynolds were first piublicly linked in late October 2011, when they were seen leaving an apartment together in the early morning hours on his birthday weekend, as People reported at the time.

They were not rumors, however. Lively and Reynolds have been one of Hollywood's most adorable couples ever since. Together, they have three daughters, one of whom has a traditionally male name like her mom, James, who is followed by sisters Inez and Betty. 

Blake Lively has attained critical success in film

After starring in a series of movies in her post-"Gossip Girl" career, Blake Lively took a three-year hiatus from acting after filming "Savage" in 2012, Indie Wire noted. That's the same year she married Ryan Reynolds. Per Elle, Lively took time off to get adjusted to her new life as a married woman. "Having a personal life has been really nice. I'd been on 'Gossip Girl' 10 months a year for six years, shooting 15-hour days, so I hadn't had time to just be since I graduated from high school. It's been nice to kind of settle into my own skin and work on things I really love," she told Elle.

It did her good, too. She returned ready to take on Hollywood. In 2015, she played the title character in "The Age of Adaline," earning her recognition and awards nominations. The following year, she starred in the one-woman feature "The Shallows," portraying a surfer who gets stranded on a rock at a beach in Mexico, forcing her to use her intelligence and skills to outsmart a great white shark. Her performance earned her a People's Choice Award.

Lively starred in the box-office hit "A Simple Favor" with Anna Kendrick in 2018. The movie "confirms the degree to which Lively is in command of her own talents," Indie Wire's David Ehrlich argued. "The Rhythm Section" (2020) also earned her praise and award nominations, proving that Lively is all but in her prime.