‘You’ star Penn Badgley: Filming sex scenes has ‘always been very disturbing to me’

A close-up shot of a man with curly brown hair and a beard staring intensely
Penn Badgley as Joe Goldberg in the fourth season of “You.”

As one of TV’s biggest heartthrobs, Penn Badgley has filmed “a fair amount” of sex scenes throughout his career.

But the “You” star recently revealed that intimacy sequences are actually among his least favorite parts of the job. In fact, he would prefer to never have to film one again.

In an interview with Variety published Tuesday, Badgley elaborated on his anti-sex scene stance after expressing his discomfort with the practice on his podcast last week. Badgley previously disclosed that “You” showrunner Sera Gamble reduced the amount of sex scenes in the latest season of the hit Netflix series at his request.


“It’s not a place where I’ve blurred lines,” Badgley told Variety of his distaste for simulating sexual acts onscreen.

“There’s almost nothing I could say with more consecration. That aspect of Hollywood has always been very disturbing to me — and that aspect of the job, that mercurial boundary — has always been something that I actually don’t want to play with at all.”

Penn Badgley, star of Netflix’s ‘You,’ asked for fewer sex scenes in Season 4 out of concern for his marriage. He also doesn’t want to be typecast.

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Though he wishes he could cut sex scenes out of his job altogether, Badgley acknowledged that such a goal is unrealistic because of his contractual commitment to “You,” which stars the 36-year-old actor as love-obsessed serial killer Joe Goldberg. For Season 4, which began streaming Thursday, he and Gamble were able to reach a compromise resulting in fewer sex scenes and no nudity.

“I’m always very practical. I said I know it can’t be none, because there’s something coded into the DNA of the show, and I signed the contract, and so it is what it is but as little as possible would be my preference,” Badgley recalled of his conversation with Gamble — whom he credited for being “accepting and responsive” to his concerns.

On his podcast, Badgley cited his fidelity to his wife of six years, Domino Kirke, as one of the reasons he dislikes getting too intimate in front of the camera. (He also noted in Variety that his onscreen victims/love interests are now younger than him in real life, “which didn’t used to be the case.”)

Season 2 of ‘You,’ on Netflix, shifts the action to Los Angeles — and sends up a number of stereotypes about the city along the way.

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The “Gossip Girl” alum later told Variety that he “initially wanted to turn the role [of Joe] down” partially because of his faithfulness to his wife. But he ended up accepting the offer after Kirke encouraged him to.


“I wasn’t going to listen to anyone more than her,” he said.

Before booking “You,” Badgley said on his podcast, he contemplated whether he should return to “a career path” that required him to do a lot of intimacy work — but worried about the potential consequences of saying no.

“Do I have a career if I don’t?” he pondered. “Think about every male lead you’ve loved. Are they kissing someone? Are they doing a lot more than that? It’s really not my desire [to do so].”

The second half of “You” Season 4 premieres March 9 on Netflix.