Penn Badgley is currently portraying a dark and disturbed stalker on Lifetime’s “You,” and admits that past experiences have made him able to relate to some of the story line.
In a new interview with the Daily Beast, the 31-year-old actor recalls portraying heartthrob Dan Humphrey on “Gossip Girl” and how some of the show’s fans had what he called a “pretty full-on obsession” with him.
“I think as an actor you can become an object of desire, which is something women are already accustomed to more or less around the world,” Badgley says. “I’ve definitely been, I mean I don’t want to sound sensationalist, but I’ve literally been molested — just in the literal sense of the word — by many people in the moment. Because that’s what they do.”
Badgley was careful not to compare his experiences to some of the women in the #MeToo movement, but did say that the story of Terry Crews coming forward after an alleged assault inspired him.
“You’re led as a man, particularly, that when it happens you should feel great about it,” he says of unwanted advances. “Particularly when it comes from someone who’s feasibly an object of your desire as well.”
The often private actor is pleased that “You” is coming out at this pivotal time, saying it’s led to conversations that might not have happened otherwise.
“I think it’s significant that a show like this is coming out now, because if it had come out any other time, we might not have have been having these necessary conversations around it,” he explains. “And we might have been all too ready to consume something that I think actually has some really dangerous seeds in it.”
Badgley is celebrating his return to TV with a healthy sense of caution.
“I definitely took a break. I definitely had to question if I wanted to keep doing what I’ve been doing,” he said of life after “Gossip Girl.” “But I’m excited — I think.”
When ET spoke with Badgley about the role earlier this month, he was very enthusiastic about portraying a darker character.
“I just had this great time with it in this way that I did not expect at all,” he said. “So, then I discovered what it really meant to be Joe as an actor.”
“You” airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on Lifetime.