Penn Badgley Wanted Less Sex in ‘You’ Season 4

“Do I want to put myself back on a career path where I’m always the romantic lead?” Badgley said.

Penn Badgley has sex on screen.

The star of Netflix’s “You” revealed that she asked showrunners Sera Gamble and Greg Berlanti to tone down the intimacy out of respect for her marriage to singer and doula Domino Kirke, whom she married in 2017.

“I asked Sera Gamble, the show’s creator, ‘Can’t I do more intimate scenes?’ I actually made that decision before I was on the show,” Badgley said Podcrushed Podcast, presented by Stitcher Studios. “I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned it publicly, but one of the biggest things is, ‘Do I want to put myself back on a career path where I’m always the romantic lead?’ It is very important to me, faithfulness in all relationships and especially in my marriage is important to me. There’s a point where I don’t want to do this.”

Badgley continued: “The pre-show course brought up the question: Do I have a career if I don’t? Think of every male lead you’ve ever loved. Are they kissing someone? Do they do much more than that? And that’s really not what I want.”

Badgley shared that showrunner Gamble was particularly receptive to his feedback and tailored Badgley’s “You” character Joe Goldberg (alias Jonathan Moore in Season 4) accordingly.

“I told Sera that I would have zero desire to go from one hundred to zero. But I signed this contract, I signed up for this show. I know what I did. You can’t take that aspect out of the DNA of the concept, so how much less can you make it happen?” Badgley recalled. “That was my question to them. He didn’t even bat an eye. He was very happy that I was being so honest, and I felt a sense of empowerment. He had a very positive response and appreciated my directness and being reasonable and practical. They came back with a fantastic reduction.”

Instead of focusing on obsessively passionate sex scenes between Joe and new love Kate (Charlotte Ritchie), Badgley added that he prefers the physicality of the action scenes, as epitomized by the fiery Season 1 finale.

“(Joe) playing for so long is pretty exhausting physically and mentally, but I love the physical work. That’s one of the great joys of the role,” said Badgley. “I’m sure they will engage in some way every season. He’s in some sort of literal bond. I find these scenes very physically enjoyable because I often don’t say much or scream multiple times.”

The “Gossip Girl” alum admitted that he contracted COVID after filming the fight between Joe and Rhys (Ed Speleers) in a mansion basement.

“I got COVID in that scene and it was pretty intense,” Badgley said, fondly citing the fact that the production took place the same weekend Kendrick Lamar’s “Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers” was released. “After that I got a lot of scratches all over my body because there were pebbles on the floor and I was spinning and doing it all with a chain. Somehow (I was in pain). I do a lot of physical acting in it, and I’m Good Jim Carrey at best and Bad Jim Carrey at worst. Nothing but love for Jim Carrey. I have a stunt double, but it’s remarkable how little they’ve used.”

“You” alumna Jenna Ortega also contracted COVID during a key scene in “Wednesday,” another record-breaking Netflix series that clashed with her return to “You” for Season 4.


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