There are times when it’s possible to be too good at your job. Penn Badgley is one of those cases, as he revealed that he was told on the set of You, where he plays a manipulative serial killer, to be “less creepy” — especially during the several masturbation scenes he’s filmed over the show’s four seasons.
On the latest episode of his “Podcrushed” podcast, the Gossip Girl actor said he’s consistently been given that director’s note, Insider reports. “Every time I’ve done a masturbation scene…I’ve always gotten the note to make it less creepy,” Badgley told co-hosts Sophie Ansari and Nava Kavelin and the episode’s guest, Chace Crawford. “They say like, ‘Close your eyes or go faster or go slower.’ I’m like, ‘What? This man is f*cking 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?'”
“I just remember I wouldn’t close my eyes and the director came up to me,” Badgley added. “He was like ‘Buddy, I think you gotta close your eyes.'”
Badgley explained that being creepy is “the f*cking point,” especially given his character’s penchant for stalking and murdering. “That’s just the strange line that we’re always walking on our show,” he added. “Examining toxicity in sexual culture while also trying to be sexy.”
Badgley has talked about what he considers misinterpretations of his character in the past, reminding fans who swoon over You’s Joe that he is the opposite of an ideal man. It just goes to show how well he plays the deceivingly charming character. “You read it. It’s actually kind of funny or it’s creepy but it serves the story,” Badgley added during the podcast about the masturbation scenes. “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.”
You was a hit on Lifetime before getting picked up by Netflix for three more seasons. You season four is currently in production, and will star Badgley opposite Tati Gabrielle. New cast members this season include Charlotte Ritchie and Lukas Gage.