Penn Badgley explains why he won’t do sex scenes on ‘You’ anymore

Netflix’s thriller series “You,” which just returned for Season 4, has made some major changes this season. It’s set and filmed in London after spending the first three seasons in New York and California; compulsive stalker Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) has the tables turned on him, and now someone else is stalking him; and Badgley has a beard now. But maybe the biggest change is that Badgley isn’t doing sex scenes anymore. 

On an episode of his podcast “Podcrushed,” Badgley explained his decision to stop doing scenes of physical intimacy on “You.” 

“I asked Sera Gamble, the creator of the show, can I just do no more intimacy scenes?” the former “Gossip Girl” star said. “This is actually a decision I’d made before I took the show. I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned it publicly, but one of the main things was, like, do I want to put myself back on a career path where I’m just always the romantic lead?”

“Fidelity in every relationship, and especially my marriage, is really important to me,” said Badgley, who is married to musician and doula Domino Kirke. “It just got to a point where I don’t want to do that. Before I took the show, it was a question: do I have a career if I don’t? Think about every male lead you’ve loved. Are they kissing someone? Are they doing a lot more than that?”

So before Season 4, he went to Gamble and told her that his desire would be to go “from 100 to zero” in terms of intimacy scenes. “But I signed this contract, I signed up for this show, I know what I did,” he said. “You can’t take this aspect out of the DNA of the concept, so ‘How much less can you make it?’ was my question for them. She didn’t even bat an eye. She was really glad that I was that honest, and she had a really positive response. She appreciated my directness, and she appreciated that I was being reasonable and practical. And they came back with a phenomenal reduction.” 

“One might call it a breast reduction,” he joked. 

It’s a big change for a show that previously was driven by sex to the extent that a Season 1 episode made a cliffhanger ending out of Joe finishing prematurely. The way the show gets around the sex scene issue is that Joe and the latest object of his obsession, Kate (Charlotte Ritchie), hate each other. They’re attracted to each other, but their chemistry is more psychological than physical. 

“You” Season 4 Part 1 is now streaming on Netflix.

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