Penn Badgley sparked a fiery debate on social media in February when he revealed that he now refuses to perform in sex scenes. “That aspect of Hollywood has always been very disturbing to me – and that aspect of the job, that mercurial frontier – has always been something I really don’t want to play with at all,” he said. Variety just as the fourth season of his Netflix serial killer show “You” was getting underway.
“It’s important to me in my real life not to have them,” Badgley added of swearing off sex scenes. “My loyalty in my relationship. It’s important to me. And actually, [sex scenes] was one of the reasons I initially wanted to turn down the role [in ‘You’]. I didn’t tell anyone that. But that’s why.”
Badgley’s comments provoked a polarizing response, with his detractors criticizing him for equating sex scenes with real sex. Many of Badgley’s critics pointed out that intimacy coordinators are now a staple in Hollywood, keeping sex scenes safe during filming. In a new interview with GQ magazine, the actor confronted backlash that he turned down sex scenes, saying it was “blown out of proportion”.
“What I was talking about wasn’t actually the final product,” Badgley said. “It was kind of like the culture inherent in the production of all movies, but especially those scenes. It’s like, look, we know Hollywood has a history of blatant exploitation and abuse.”
Badgley said he was “nervous to even have that conversation” with “You” showrunner Sera Gamble, adding, “It wasn’t easy. Sera’s response made it easy and I felt relieved. But technically, if i thought i had the option to set that limit sooner i would have done so we’ll see if setting that limit has any consequences of course put simply it does limit the number of projects you can be a part of to make.”
While “You” contained a handful of sex scenes in the first three seasons, Badgley stressed that his refusal to do them in season 4 “didn’t change the trajectory of the season at all.” He added, “I mean, Joe was obviously ready to not be in that position anymore.”
Badgley also spoke to GQ magazine about Netflix’s decision to split “You” Season 4 into two parts. The first five episodes of the season launched on February 9, while the remaining five debuted on March 9. The release strategy wasn’t unusual for Netflix, which has split seasons for “Stranger Things,” “Ozark,” and more in the past, but it proved controversial among “You” fans, as part of the show’s appeal was to increase viewership. by running the cliffhangers and binging the twists in quick succession.
“It was never intended to be released in two parts,” said Badgley. “I don’t know what the conversations were with Sera Gamble and [co-creator] Greg Berlanti, for example. I think that’s just the economic reality of Netflix. And I think it generally makes sense to release things in installments. I like that. When I found out, I thought, ‘We’re going a month apart [episodes] five and six? That’s a great old distraction.” Because, to me, it doesn’t all come home until you finally see the cage.
“You” Season 4 is now streaming in its entirety on Netflix.