Penn Badgley tells Andy Cohen more about why he’s done filming sex scenes
On last week’s bonus episode of Podcrushed, Penn Badgley made headlines and social media waves when he revealed that he no longer wanted to perform sex scenes as an actor. The lead in Netflix’s hit series You (the first five episodes of Season 4 just dropped February 9), Penn went into more detail about his feelings with Andy Cohen this morning on Andy Cohen Live.
“Before I took this show five years ago, okay, I was questioning whether or not I could continue on the path that I’m on because I didn’t want to do those kinds of scenes anymore,” Penn explained.
You, which is based on books by Caroline Kepnes, originally premiered on Lifetime in 2018 until it moved to Netflix the following year. A psychological thriller, the show follows the story of the main character and narrator, Joe Goldberg, an obsessive bookstore clerk who finds himself becoming the cause of a lot of accidental murders — all in the name of love. Before signing on as Joe, Penn most famously portrayed Dan Humphrey in Gossip Girl from 2007 through 2012, in addition to roles in a handful of movies like Easy A and John Tucker Must Die. He’s been acting professionally since age 12.
Portraying romantic leads on screen, Penn said, “involves all kinds of objectification.”
He continued, “I think if you actually talk to a lot of actors, I don’t think I’m in a minority here at all. I think what you end up having to do — you know, I don’t care what your orientation preference is — if you have a partner, and you want to be with your partner, and you have to do this with another person, frankly for me, it’s not my desire.”
Penn married his wife Domino Kirk in 2017, and the couple welcomed a baby boy, James, in 2020.
When Andy questioned whether or not acting out sex scenes is simply part of the job as an actor, Penn said that’s exactly what lead him to question taking on the role in the first place: “In my conversation with the creators [of You], I didn’t say, ‘Can I have none?’ I said, ‘My preference would be none.’ I know the role that I signed up for … The trajectory of the plot line already lent itself very much to this.”
In the most recent episodes of You, Penn’s character Joe (now going by Jonathan) flees America for London and tries not to get involved with any women in an effort to leave his accidental murderous ways behind him.
“Sera Gamble, the creator I had had the conversation with initially, she was fully — she understood. She was fully on board. She didn’t bat an eye,” Penn said.