During production on the fourth season of his Netflix thriller, Penn Badgley made an uncommon request for the lead of a hit TV show centered around a character’s obsession with love.
“I asked Sera Gamble, the creator the show: Can I just do no more intimacy scenes?” the YOU star reveals in the latest episode of his Podcrushed podcast. “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?”
Badgley, who married singer Domino Kirke in 2017, says, “Fidelity in every relationship, and especially my marriage, is really important to me. 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?”
YOU‘s fourth season relocates Badgley’s killer character to London, where he’s determined to start a new life free of love. This plan works for about two seconds, until sparks begin to fly with new neighbor Kate (played by Charlotte Ritchie). Despite the characters’ intense attraction, however, they don’t get as physical as you might expect — and they have Badgley to thank for that.
“I said to Sera, ‘My desire would be zero, to go from 100 to zero,'” Badgley says of his intimacy scenes. “But I signed this contract, I signed up for this show, I know what I did. 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.”
Speaking to TVLine about Badgley and Ritchie’s characters, Gamble says, “One of my favorite kinds of romantic comedies are the ones where they hate each other on sight, and that’s a story we hadn’t done yet. I think the romance novel community calls it enemies to lovers, like it’s a trope. Passion is passion.”
The first half of YOU‘s 10-episode fourth season is currently streaming on Netflix. The remaining five episodes drop with Part 2 on March 9. Is Joe’s toned-down sex life been noticeable to you during your binge? Drop a comment with your thoughts on Badgley’s request below.