You: What we suspected about why Penn Badgley almost turned down the role


Penn Badley got her start on the soap opera “The Young and the Restless” in 2000, but it wasn’t until 2007, when she took on one of the lead roles in what would become an ultra-popular teen drama Gossip Girl, that she really started to become recognizable.

After “Gossip Girl,” the actor took a break from television for the most part, focusing instead on music with his band, MOTHXR, and appearing in movies, including 2012’s “Greetings from Tim Buckley” and “The Paper Store” in 2016. But in 2018, Penn Badgley returned to television with the lead role in Netflix’s You, a psychological thriller in which the actor plays Joe Goldberg. The two roles leave the actor at the top, although if we look in detail, he almost doesn’t make it.

As is known, Gossip Girl’s Dan Humphrey almost had to be played by another actor, as Penn Badley was hesitant to take on the role, noting that he was wary of being typecast. In his own words, he feared that “there is no way to get that thing out.” But 6 years after “Gossip Girl” ended, it still proved difficult for projects to land Penn Badgley as the lead, as the actor was also hesitant to take on the lead role of Joe Goldberg in You. In this case, his reluctance had to do only with the morality of his character.

In an interview, when asked about his initial reaction to the role, Penn Badgley replied that he wasn’t interested because of how dark the character is. Mainly, he was concerned about being a part of putting someone like Joe on screen.

“I knew he would be in conflict with the role from day one to day one, and that’s why they thought it would be good for him, is that I’m not excited about playing someone of this nature.”

He then explained his biggest concern with his character, which relates to why he was hesitant in the first place.

“The only thing I really cared about was not [letting] my very nature make him too human,” he noted, “human in a way that maybe someone like him can’t be.”

Still the act puts a twist on the very important character. One of the most crucial elements of You is the voiceover work of Penn Badgley. He narrates the events of the show as Joe, allowing viewers to step into the twisted logic of the serial killer. The large number of voiceovers puts him in an interesting position as an actor, as much of his characterization comes from narration rather than dialogue with other actors, a dynamic he has come to enjoy.