Penn Badgley shares what it’s like to film these scenes and the one critique he got from the director.
Penn Badgley is the murderous and obsessive Joe Goldberg in Netflix’s hit thriller, You. In the series, Joe sets out to get closer to the women he is entranced by and will remove any obstacle (or person) that gets in his way.
Another factor about Joe is he is a dreamer. The serial killer often fantasizes about the people he sees on the streets. And sometimes, the dreams get sexual with Joe masturbating in public places. So what’s that like from an acting point of view?
Badgley Reveals Filming is Quite Difficult
The Gossip Girl alum has filmed several of these scenes while playing the character on the show and told Stitcher’s Podcrushed podcast that he initially thought it wouldn’t be a big deal.
“And then you discover in front of a crew of people with a camera on your face, knowing that, in all likelihood, millions of people are going to see this, you’re simulating masturbation.
“I have to say sometimes those scenes are harder than with a person because it’s just like, alright, this is what I’m doing,” he continued.
But even a pro like Badgley gets critiques from the director when he’s filming his scenes.
“I’ve always gotten the note to make it less creepy,” he explained. “They say like, ‘Close your eyes or go faster or go slower.'”
However, it’s hard for Badgley to wrap his head around making the scene less creepy when that’s the show’s entire premise. “I’m like, ‘What? This man is f–king murdering people, and he’s masturbating in the street. You’re saying I’m making it creepy? How is it I’m the one making it creepy?'”
Badgley’s insane eye contact during the filming of these scenes was a bit too far.
“[The director] was like, ‘Buddy, I think you gotta close your eyes,'” he said. “I don’t remember exactly what he said. He was very graciously communicating that it was creepy.
“I’m like, ‘That’s the f–king—that’s the point.'”
Badgley has mastered the art of balancing charming and chilling when playing Joe. Based on novels by Caroline Kepnes, You has returned to Netflix for three seasons so far and is confirmed for a fourth.
“[The show critiques] toxicity and sexual culture while also trying to be sexy. That’s just this strange line that we’re always walking on our show.”