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Penn Badgley’s most important acting credit: a Pokémon TCG training video

Spotted: Penn Badgley teaching us how to play Pokémon

A still from a video showing Penn Badgley standing in front of a chalk board. He’s holding his hands together as he looks out towards the class. Image: Wizards of the Coast via Holo Quest/YouTube
Ana Diaz (she/her) is a culture writer at Polygon, covering internet culture, fandom, and video games. Her work has previously appeared at NPR, Wired, and The Verge.

Penn Badgely, the American actor most known for starring as Dan Humphrey in the iconic teen drama series, Gossip Girl, has another key acting credit, but you won’t find it on his IMDB page — it’s a promotional video for the Pokémon Trading Card Game from 1999.

In an official video from Wizards of the Coast, the distributer of Pokémon cards at the time, a young Badgely as “Jimmy,” a patient, but firm instructor who teaching a classroom full of parents how to play the Pokémon TCG. The half-hour video pokes fun at the parents — most of whom just want to trade the cards and aren’t as interested in learning how to actually play the game. The video switches between instructional videos and little skits featuring Jimmy’s classroom. And luckily for us, you can watch the whole thing on YouTube.

Badgely talked about his memories of playing the role on the radio show with Roman Kemp on radio show Capital Breakfast.

“I think in America at least [the Pokémon Company] realized that nobody was learning how to play the game and they were only trading. That probably had something to do with, let’s be honest, they wanted more money. We need people to play the game and not just trade the cards arbitrarily. And so this was a training video that was probably on VHS,” Badgely said in the interview.

Oddly enough, this isn’t Badgely’s only Nintendo connection. The actor also voiced roles in two Nintendo games: He played a generic child character in both Mario Golf 64 and Mario Tennis 64. Now we can all add this Pokémon role to his list of surprising acting credits.