Gossip Girl star: ‘I was molested by fans’
PENN Badgley says he suffered sexual assault at the hands of overzealous Gossip Girl fans.
"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 - 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," Badgley, 32, told the Daily Beast. "Because that's what they do."
The actor, who stars as stalker Joe Goldberg in the new US TV series You, clarified that as a white male, he faces fewer problems than others who are less privileged, but cited Terry Crews as an example of famous men who've been sexually assaulted, noting: "These things very much happen, you know."
Badgley explained that his character in You raises a lot of debate in the light of the #MeToo movement.
"I think that's the interesting thing about this show, is that Joe looks like me, he acts and talks like me to a degree, so I think the audience is supposed to be like, 'Aw, that might be nice if someone was that infatuated with me,'" he said.
"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 been having these necessary conversations around it. And we might have been all too ready to consume something that I think actually has some really dangerous seeds in it."
Badgley struggled with making his character sympathetic, like when a director tried to get him to play Joe as "less disgusting" when the character was masturbating on the street by making him close his eyes.
"I only closed my eyes for one take, because I was pretty adamant about not wanting to do it. And it's because it was so much creepier with my eyes open," Badgley said. "Like, why are we trying - Joe is masturbating on the side of the street as he watches a young woman … and we're worried about it being too creepy? Do we not think it's already crossed that line? So I was always kind of on the sidelines like, 'We don't need to defend Joe.'"
As a result of the sudden and overwhelming fame, plus the obsessive, occasionally Joe-like fans he faced with the sexy hit series, Badgley admits that he "definitely took a breather" from Hollywood before ultimately returning to television.
"I definitely had to question if I wanted to keep doing what I've been doing. But I'm excited - I think," he shared. "When it comes to the fame side of things, I don't think anybody, whether they're famous or not, could claim to understand that phenomenon or have any sort of power over it. So I'm just cautious and careful."