Like many modern-day movie stars, Blake Lively took to Instagram in 2020 to promote her latest picture, action drama The Rhythm Section. But the actress was left regretting her choice of image. Indeed, the response to her very distinctive selfie left the former Gossip Girl actress both highly flattered and deeply offended.
Directed by Emmy Award winner Reed Morano, The Rhythm Section stars Lively as grief-stricken prostitute Stephanie Patrick. The film begins three years after her entire family perished in an airplane crash. And Stephanie’s life is turned further upside down when she’s told by reporter Keith Proctor that the horrific accident was actually no accident at all.
Adapted from Mark Burnell’s same-named novel, the movie then follows Stephanie’s journey as she attempts to both uncover the truth and exact revenge. The Rhythm Section was Lively’s first release since she gave birth to her third child. And she hit the promotional circuit hard to make sure that cinemagoers knew all about it.
Indeed, Lively appeared on Good Morning America, Live! with Kelly and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to spread the word about the action drama. And it was during her spot on the latter that the actress was asked about a particular social media post. Not for the first time, Lively had left some of her followers slightly baffled with a particular selfie.
Of course, Lively is no stranger to giving fans a peek behind the showbiz curtain on the photo-sharing platform. The star regularly posts pictures of the family life she shares with her husband and fellow A-lister Ryan Reynolds. As a result, the pair have become one of Hollywood’s most-loved power couples.
Lively and Reynolds’ love story begins way back in 2010. The pair were first introduced to each other when they both appeared in superhero flop Green Lantern. However, Reynolds was wed to another Hollywood favorite, Scarlett Johansson, at the time, while Lively was seeing Penn Badgley, her co-star in Gossip Girl.
Yet by the end of the same year, both Lively and Reynolds had separated from their partners. In a joint statement made with Johansson, the latter declared, “After long and careful consideration on both our parts, we’ve decided to end our marriage. We entered our relationship with love, and it’s with love and kindness we leave it. While privacy isn’t expected, it’s certainly appreciated.”
Yet the first celebrity that Lively was linked to following her split with Badgley wasn’t Reynolds. In June 2011, rumors surfaced that she had started seeing Leonardo DiCaprio. The glamorous couple were pictured enjoying each other’s company at the Cannes Film Festival and allegedly enjoyed the rest of the summer together before going their separate ways.
But Lively and Reynolds did eventually get together in October that same year. And in September 2012 the couple walked down the aisle in an intimate ceremony at South Carolina’s Boone Hall Plantation. The two A-listers decided to keep the wedding a secret from the press and didn’t release any images of the occasion either.
Lively told Allure magazine just a month later, “Right now, I’m so peaceful. I’ve never been happier in my life.” The star also revealed that she definitely wanted children with the love of her life, adding, “I’ve always wanted a big family. Oh, I’d love 30 (children) if I could.”
And Lively wasted little time in starting the big family she so desperately craved. The actress announced she was expecting her first child with Reynolds in October 2014 on her very own lifestyle website: Preserve. And she gave birth to daughter James in their New York hometown of Bedford just three months later.
In February 2016 Reynolds disclosed to Entertainment Weekly about how he and Lively first realized they were meant to be, on a double date with other partners. He revealed, “That was the most awkward date for their perspective probably because we were just like fireworks coming across. It was weird at first, but we were buddies for a long time. I think it’s the best way to have a relationship is to start as friends.”
The couple added to their family unit in November that year with the birth of second daughter Inez. However, in March 2018 gossip sites began reporting that Lively and Reynolds’ seemingly happy marriage was in trouble. But instead of getting offended, the latter simply made a joke about such rumors, tweeting, “I wish. I could use a little ‘me time.’”
Reynolds and Lively appeared to put the rumors to bed in May 2019 when they revealed they were expecting a third child. Five months later several publications reported that Lively had given birth, although the couple never officially announced the news. They haven’t shared the name or gender either, although the baby is believed to be a girl.
While speaking to TV show E! News in 2020 to promote The Rhythm Section, Lively revealed how much she loves being a mother. Referring to her choice of movie roles, she said, “I guess I really have to really, really, really, really love it, because I’m just obsessed with my kids. So, yeah, I think it’s gotta really be worth it to take me away.”
Lively first caught attention in 2005 tween hit The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. A year later she starred opposite Justin Long in comedy Accepted and showed up in horror Simon Says. But her big break came when she was cast as Serena van der Woodsen in teen drama Gossip Girl.
During her five-year spell in the glossy Manhattan drama, Lively also graced the big screen in New York, I Love You, The Town and The Private Lives of Pippa Lee. In 2011 she was named as one of the world’s 100 most influential people by Time magazine. And a year later People magazine hailed Lively as one of the Most Beautiful at Every Age.
After Gossip Girl came to an end in 2012, Lively was chosen to replace Jennifer Lawrence in Oliver Stone’s drug trade drama Savages. She went on to front campaigns for new fragrance Gucci Premiere and L’Oreal. And in the mid-’10s, Lively took center stage in both drama The Age of Adaline and shark horror The Shallows.
Lively’s hot streak continued in 2018 when she appeared in Paul Feig’s mystery thriller A Simple Favor. The actress won rave reviews for her performance as Emily, a fashion company PR director whose mysterious disappearance is investigated by her YouTube vlogger best friend. And earlier that same year Lively found herself at the center of a real-life storm on another social media platform.
Both Lively and her husband Ryan Reynolds are renowned for having a dry sense of humor. But the former’s attempt to crack a funny on Instagram in February 2018 left many of her followers feeling more bemused than amused. The star inadvertently caused all the drama when she took to the photo-sharing site to post a glamorous throwback image captioned #makeupfree.
The use of this popular hashtag was, of course, meant in an ironic way. The photo was quite blatantly a decades-old press shot from Lively’s Gossip Girl days. And the star was obviously covered in make-up when the picture was taken. But many of her 19 million followers didn’t get the joke.
An Instagram user named mrsmommydekker replied, “I just think of teens seeing that hashtag and believing it because that’s how everyone looks on TV and in magazines. It’s easy for a teen to think that’s actually what she looks like with no makeup. It would have been funnier if she had her face painted or something, but the makeup she has on in the pic is meant to make her look beautiful naturally.”
Another user named soophiiiaaaaa was even more unimpressed, posting, “‘Wow that’s it. I always liked you, but it’s posts like this that mislead kids and teens into creating false body images that are just c––p. This is neither makeupfree nor natural. It’s all fake and so are you.” She then warned other followers, “Don’t let people like Blake Lively and others make you think less of yourselves.”
Thankfully, many other followers were able to see the funny side. User freedom-foodie-fighter defended Lively by posting, “If you think Blake is being serious then I feel really bad for you because you’re seriously lacking in the humor department.” Another fan, bsynrs, responded to the commotion with, “PSA: THIS IS SARCASM! My gosh people! Lighten up! And if you’re that worried about your children misinterpreting, how about sharing and educating them on the difference between real and fake and photoshopped?”
But this furor didn’t stop Lively from having a little more fun on Instagram with her appearance. In 2020, she uploaded a striking image to the site in which she held a picture of herself sporting an unfashionable bowl cut in her latest movie, The Rhythm Section. And she captioned the pic, “Facetune broke.”
Lively looked almost unrecognizable in the pic that she was holding up. The star had been glammed-down for the film for one of the many different guises her character adopts in order to seek vengeance on those responsible for her entire family perishing in a plane crash. But many followers believed that the image on the right was simply Lively before she visited the makeup room.
While appearing on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to promote the action drama, the subject of the side-by-side images inevitably came up in conversation. “Props to the hair and makeup,” the host stated. He then asked his guest to explain the contrast between the glamorous Lively on the left and the rundown Lively on the right.
A game Lively then replied, “[The film’s makeup artist] did this really rough look, because my family has experienced a lot of tragedy. And then this after I clean up. But when I posted it, people were saying ‘Wow, Blake bravely shows what she looks like before and after makeup.’”
And Lively admitted that she felt conflicted by this type of reaction. “There’s two sides,” she told Fallon. “This is a partisan issue here. Some people think that’s what I look like without makeup [on the right], which I find very offensive because that takes an hour for her [the makeup artist] to make me look like that.”
Pointing to the more glamorous image of herself on the left, Lively added, “This also takes an hour for her to make me look this good.” The “her” in question, of course, was referring to Vivian Baker. The makeup artist, who was responsible for both transformations, was also part of the Oscar-winning team that helped transform Charlize Theron into Megyn Kelly in Bombshell.
Lively continued, “So I’m vacillating between my vanity – which is wanting to be like, ‘I don’t actually look like that!’ – and also wanting to be a feminist and being like, ‘Why do we expect women to wake up looking like this? This isn’t realistic, that you wake up this beautiful.’ But I would like people to believe I wake up that beautiful!”
In the same interview, Lively also told Fallon that he was responsible for leaving her oldest daughter starstruck. Back in 2016 James Reynolds was seen spotting giving a cardboard cutout of the host a kiss and calling him “dada” in an impossibly adorable clip. And Fallon was keen to find out how the youngster was doing four years on.
Lively replied, “We gotta stay away from you, Jimmy.” The actress went on to reveal that her five-year-old had been so overcome with nerves that she hadn’t felt like she had been able to pay a visit to the show alongside her mother. “She is so intimidated by you,” Lively told the host.
In fact, James is more at ease with one of the world’s biggest pop stars than she is with the host of The Tonight Show. “She’s like buddies with Taylor Swift, no problem, Jimmy Fallon, can’t speak,” Lively explained to Fallon. “You are Beyoncé to her. She’s very, very, very intimidated.”
Lively was then asked about the rest of her family and how she’s coping now that she’s a mother of three. The actress joked, “I have so many children. It’s a bit of a tough adjustment in our house, but it’s good. I have two other daughters, so my oldest is very into the baby, but my middle child, eh, not so much.”
“We’re thinking of keeping her,” quipped Lively much to the audience’s amusement. And thankfully her middle daughter Inez appears to be softening towards her baby sibling. After Lively informed her that she’d be able to act as a mentor to the new tot, Inez turned to the baby and said, “Oh, I didn’t love you, but now I do.”
Lively also revealed that her schedule is so tiring that she often finds herself falling asleep in her children’s room. She told Fallon, “My kids had, like, a pack-and-play, almost like a crib, and I would crawl in there and sing them to sleep. Usually, I’d fall asleep in there. Almost every single night I’d fall asleep in there. And then my husband would usually come in and be like, ‘Hey, you’re safe now. You can come to bed.’”
Unfortunately for Lively, her promotional efforts didn’t exactly pay off. The Rhythm Section was projected to make up to $12 million on its very first weekend. However, by the time the final box office figures came in, it had grossed just $2.8 million. This was the worst opening figure for a movie played in more than 3,000 theaters in Hollywood history.
The muted critical response didn’t help matters, either. Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers delivered one of the most scathing reviews, writing, “Blake Lively tries hard as a woman hellbent on vengeance. But grinding monotony is the real killer in this formulaic action thriller that leaps off the cliff of cliché into the valley of banality.”
Lively will be hoping for better with her next project: The Husband’s Secret. The actress will also serve as executive producer on the adaptation of the same-named novel by Liane Moriarty. Lively will play lead Cecilia Fitzpatrick, a woman who discovers a letter containing a devastating secret which turns her whole world upside down.