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Penn Badgley Wanted Less Sex in ‘You’ Season 4 Out of ‘Fidelity’ to His Real-Life Wife: ‘It’s Really Not My Desire’

"Do I want to put myself back in a career path where I'm just always the romantic lead?" Badgley said.

Penn Badgley

Penn Badgley

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Penn Badgley is done with sex onscreen.

The star of Netflix’s “You” revealed that he asked the series showrunners Sera Gamble and Greg Berlanti to tone down the intimacy out of respect for his marriage to singer and doula Domino Kirke, whom he wed in 2017.

“I asked Sera Gamble, the creator of the show, ‘Can I just do no more intimacy scenes?’ This was actually a decision I made before I took the show,” Badgley said on his “Podcrushed” podcast, presented by Stitcher Studios. “I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned it publicly, but one of the main things is, ‘Do I want to put myself back in a career path where I’m just always the romantic lead?’ It’s really important to me, fidelity in every relationship and especially my marriage, is important to me. It just got to a point where I don’t want to do that.”

Badgley continued, “In the course before I took this 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? And it’s really not my desire.”

Badgley shared that showrunner Gamble was especially receptive to his feedback and tailored Badgley’s “You” character Joe Goldberg (under the alias of Jonathan Moore in Season 4) accordingly.

“I said to Sera, my desire would be zero, to go from a hundred to zero. 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?” Badgley recalled. “That was my question to them. She didn’t even bat an eye. She was really glad that I was that honest and was sort of empowered. She had a really positive response and she appreciated my directness and that I was also being reasonable and practical. They came back with a phenomenal reduction.”

Instead of focusing on the would-be obsessively passionate sex scenes between Joe and new love interest Kate (Charlotte Ritchie), Badgley added that he prefers the physicality of action scenes, as epitomized in the fiery Part 1 finale.

“Playing [Joe] for so long is quite exhausting physically and mentally but I do love the physical task. It’s one of the great joys of the role,” Badgley said. “I’m pretty sure every season I get tied up in some way. He’s in some real literal bind. I find those scenes really enjoyable physically because I often don’t say much or scream one word repeatedly.”

The “Gossip Girl” alum admitted that he got COVID after filming a standoff between Joe and Rhys (Ed Speleers) in a castle basement.

“I got COVID in that scene, and it was pretty intense,” Badgley said, fondly citing that production took place the same weekend Kendrick Lamar’s album “Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers” was released. “I had a lot of scratches all over my body afterward because there were pebbles all over the floor and I was spinning around and doing all this stuff with a chain. I was kind of [in pain]. I do a lot of physical acting in it, and at its best, it’s Good Jim Carrey, and at its worst, it’s bad Jim Carrey. Nothing but love for Jim Carrey. I do have a stunt double, but it’s remarkable how little they’ve used.”

“You” alum Jenna Ortega also got COVID during a pivotal scene for “Wednesday,” the fellow record-breaking Netflix series that conflicted with her appearing again in “You” for Season 4.

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