What You Don't Know About Joshua Bassett

The success of Olivia Rodrigo's hit song "Driver's License" launched her into the public eye — and it brought rumored ex-boyfriend Joshua Bassett with her. Though the two had already hit the Hollywood scene thanks to their Disney Channel acting gigs, they became household names as the track's popularity grew and even became the subject of a February 2021 sketch on "Saturday Night Live." On the song, Rodrigo sang about the boy who broke her heart by moving on, but there's more to Bassett than just one breakup.

The actor has actually been an up-and-comer for a while after launching his career with Disney. After snagging a few one-episode roles on shows like "Lethal Weapon" and "Game Shakers" (via IMDb), he was introduced as a new character on Season 3 of "Stuck in the Middle." Appearing in nine episodes, he played Aidan Peters, a new love interest for Jenna Ortega's character, Harley Diaz. From there, his career only continued to grow.

Joshua Bassett was one of the first cast in High School Musical

Following his time on "Stuck in the Middle," Joshua Bassett went on to play a younger version of the titular character in an episode of "Dirty John," and he appeared on two episodes of "Grey's Anatomy." However, it was his role in "High School Musical: The Musical: The Series" that really launched his career. On "HSMTMTS," he and Rodrigo played Ricky and Nini, two characters with a complicated past. After a previous relationship, the two had gone their separate ways only to find themselves cast as Troy and Gabriella, the leads in their school's musical, when Ricky tried to win Nini back.

In an interview with Vulture, Bassett reveals his was one of the first characters to be cast. While he wasn't sure about the idea of a "High School Musical" reboot of sorts, he decided to give it a shot — and it paid off majorly. "I guess I was the first tape that they ever sent to [series creator Tim Federle], so the casting director sent it to him, and she said, 'You're not going to believe me, but I think we just found a Ricky.'"

Disney kickstarted Joshua Bassett's songwriting career

When they brought Joshua Bassett in to audition for the new show, he prepared two songs to perform — "Count on Me" by Bruno Mars and an original he'd written and previously shared on his Instagram account called "Common Sense." While he'd already been writing music for a while in his own time, he got his first paid writing gig as part of the show. Together, he and Rodrigo collaborated on "Just For a Moment." In the show, it's a song that Bassett's character Ricky writes for Rodrigo's Nini, and their characters sing it together.

"That was our first official songwriting job," he told Vulture. "Having the Disney executives believe in us in that way was pretty insane, and super-encouraging for both of us to keep going with our songwriting." Both stars ended up putting out some pretty successful tracks, but it was "Driver's License" and the surrounding drama that really caught fans' eyes and ears.

His profile blew up due to real-life drama

The track premiered on Jan. 8, 2021, and it almost instantly shot to the top of the charts. According to Billboard, it was one of the "most dominant" songs from the past 30 years to reach the top spot on the Hot 100 list. As of the Jan. 23 ranking, it had twice as many chart points as its runner up, and fans were quick to get invested beyond just singing along. They wanted to know just how much was real — and what really went down between Olivia Rodrigo and Joshua Bassett.

While the two actors never publicly dated, social media sleuths connected their on-screen chemistry to their off-screen flirtation and support of each other and speculated that they were having a romance behind the scenes. That romance seemed to come to an end by May of 2020, however, which is when The Cut notes they stopped liking each other's posts on Instagram. Things heated up in July when Rodrigo scored her real life driver's license, writing in a since-deleted post, "So now I can drive around the suburbs alone and cry to I miss you I'm sorry like a true American!!!!!"

Exes Rodrigo and Bassett seem to have since made peace. When the "HSMTMTS" actress debuted her next single, "Deja Vu," he proudly posted about it on Instagram (per Popbuzz), and the second season of their Disney Channel show is premiering on May 14.

Joshua Bassett's musical idols

Ask him about his original track, "Common Sense," and Joshua Bassett is likely to say something like, "Oh my god, who let me put this out?" (That's exactly how Bassett described the song to Vulture). "Common Sense" is nonetheless a landmark for the up-and-coming star. Basset was 15 when he started writing music. It took him a year to post original music like "Common Sense" to The Gram. "That was just the beginning of me believing that I could be a songwriter," he told Pop Sugar.

Bassett now has the confidence to branch out. He told Entertainment Weekly that on his next album you'll likely hear "folky, country stuff," electronic, funk, and disco. As for his inspirations? His co-star Olivia Rodrigo might be a die-hard Swiftie, but Bassett has other musical idols. He told Euphoria that he admires Ed Sheeran (for his "ability to sell out 90,000 seat stadiums with just his guitar and his loop pedal"), Adele (for her "honesty in her songwriting"), Sara Bareilles, Billy Joel (with whom he grew up), and Harry Styles

Styles is more than a musical inspiration: he's a die-hard crush for Bassett. After joking that an interview where he gushed over Harry Styles was his "coming out video" (via YouTube), the singer-songwriter took to social media to explain that he doesn't want other people to define his sexuality and that he stands for love and acceptance. "It's 2021. We are the generation of love [and] growth, it's time we start acting like it," he wrote on Instagram

Why Joshua Bassett wants to go on late night television with J.LO

"HSMTMTS" isn't Joshua Bassett's first Hollywood stint. The prodigy has been acting since he was 8 years old when he (no joke) got the part of "Jock No. 2" in a theatrical production of "High School Musical" (via 1883). Before turning into a Disney star, Bassett also, per The San Diego-Union Tribune, once acted in "Annie" alongside all five of his sisters, his parents, and his dog, to boot. Bassett's dad, according to the newspaper, is a professional pianist and drummer. While his mom is a real estate agent, she also knows how to handle a pair of drum sticks. 

Bassett's first big-screen moment was as an extra in a movie starring J.Lo. In an interview the actor gave to BuzzFeed, Bassett admitted he was 8 when he clinched the role and got to spend time with Jenny from the Block on-set. When he went to say goodbye, she tried to hug him. "I was like 'nope,' and my dad was like, 'What are you doing?! you just rejected a hug from Jennifer Lopez,' and I was like 'I don't care, I don't know who she is.'" Bassett says he was "anti-starstruck" at the time, but hopes that one day he'll get a re-do. "I'm hoping it will be on late night — I don't know it's just my vision — that on late-night television, me and Jennifer Lopez are going to get that hug," he told the news outlet.