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You star Penn Badgley recently opened up about how he felt the online discourse surrounding his comments about asking for fewer sex scenes in the Netflix hit were “blown out of proportion.”
In February, Badgley revealed on his podcast that he asked showrunner Sera Gamble if they could cut back on the intimacy in You’s fourth season. Shortly after, his comments led to online debate about onscreen sex scenes, with many questioning the idea that sex scenes somehow equated to cheating.
“Fidelity in every relationship — and especially my marriage — is important to me,” the Gossip Girl alum said at the time, “and it just got to a point where I didn’t wanna do that.”
In an interview with GQ, Badgley said that he was taken aback by the reaction to his comments, but he understands how things can be taken out of context on the internet.
“What I was speaking about wasn’t actually the final product,” he told the publication. “It was sort of like the culture inherent to the production of all movies but particularly those scenes. It’s like, look, we know that Hollywood has had a history of flagrant exploitation and abuse.”
While Badgley knew he wanted to ask Gamble about reducing his sex scenes, he said he was still nervous to have the conversation with her.
“It was not easy. It was easy because of Sera’s response, and I felt relieved,” he explained. “But technically speaking, if I thought I’d had the ability to set that boundary earlier, I would have.”
He also acknowledged that he’s aware that trying to steer clear of intimate scenes could have an impact on his career. “We shall see if setting that boundary, of course, has any ramifications,” he said. “Just simply, it does limit the number of projects you can be a part of.” But he takes comfort in knowing that his decision didn’t impact the writing of You or Joe Goldberg’s story.
“It didn’t change the trajectory of the season at all,” he said. “I mean, Joe was naturally ready to not be in that position anymore.”
In the GQ interview, Badgley also discussed season four‘s two-part split and the finale, which included — spoiler alert! — Joe attempting to take his life as a way of saving Kate (Charlotte Ritchie) and the other people around him from himself.
The actor said he thought Joe’s decision to jump off of a bridge in London was ironic in the sense that though it seems like he’s making a drastically different decision than he has throughout the show, he’s not really.
“Joe is still following the logic that he’s always followed, which is, ‘I’m going to kill someone to save another,'” he said. “And the irony is that even in that act, he’s still self-centered.”
He explained that the season was never meant to be released in two parts, saying he wasn’t sure what the conversations were surrounding that decision, but he didn’t mind it.
“I think that’s just Netflix’s economic reality,” he continued. “And I think it makes sense, generally, to release things in installments. I like that. When I found out, I was like, ‘We’re going to leave a month between [episodes] five and six? That’s a big old diversion.’ Because, to me, it doesn’t all come home until you finally see the cage.”
During a later appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Badgley explained that he took down the trailer for Part 2 after sharing it on social media because it spoiled Part 1. “Netflix knows what they’re doing, but it makes me nervous,” he added.
While stopping by The Hollywood Reporter’s TV’s Top 5 podcast, Gamble expanded on the decision to split the season into two parts, sharing that it came from the streamer, which has been doing that with some of its shows — a prime example being Stranger Things season four.
“They certainly didn’t force it on us,” she said. “They were just like, ‘We were thinking about this for your season, and we know you have this mystery structure, and do you feel like this would work?’ And it just so happened that the structure split cleanly down the center of the season, probably ’cause Greg Berlanti and I have written many a midseason cliffhanger for old-school television. I can’t help it. I need to, proverbially, burn something really big down in episode five of 10.”
You season four is streaming on Netflix.
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