Penn Badgley says 'there's a lot he doesn't enjoy about' playing Joe Goldberg in Netflix's You

23 December 2019, 14:08 | Updated: 2 January 2020, 16:59

Katie Louise Smith

By Katie Louise Smith

Penn admits he doesn't "enjoy nearly everything about" playing the dark and twisty character.

For most of us, Penn Badgley sits firmly in our minds as Dan Humphrey, the Upper East Side's LonelyBoy who ended up being revealed as Gossip Girl. But for a new generation of teens, Penn is now Joe Goldberg, the dangerous yet extremely charismatic creep from Netflix's thriller series You.

When You first came into our lives, viewers had conflicting feelings about Joe. He's cute, he's charming and it's easy to form a weird attachment to the character, as we watch most of the series from his perspective. But, at the end of the day, he is manipulative and uh, he's also a murderer.

READ MORE: Penn Badgley says he'll "think about" returning for Gossip Girl reboot

For Penn, the conflict was not quite the same. He's been pretty vocal about how despicable Joe really is since season one. And now, speaking to Digital Spy, Penn has also confessed that playing such a dark and twisted character has taken a bit of a toll on him psychologically.

Penn Badgley opens up about the toll Joe Goldberg takes on him
Penn Badgley opens up about the toll Joe Goldberg takes on him. Picture: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images, Netflix

"There's a lot I don't enjoy about him. To be honest, I don't enjoy nearly everything about him," he said. "However, it ends up being a deep, deep psychological exploration for me. And it seems to bear fruit. There's a lot about him that I struggle with and yet I'm always trying to humanise him as much as possible."

Penn also told Variety that the shift from New York to Los Angeles, where season 2 takes place, was "isolating" and "oppressive," and it affected his portrayal of Joe.

“For me, playing Joe [in LA] was even more isolating because there was literally more space, so it’s almost like the void that he stares into represents the void in himself that he’s terrified of,” he confessed.

“It maybe became more oppressive. He is a little bit of an oppressive character, if not extremely, and there’s something I experience of that when playing him. So just privately, the weekends were refuge, because I was able to live in LA like a normal human.”

Following the success of season 1, Penn spoke at length about how much of a terrible person Joe actually is and even playfully dragged everyone on Twitter who was lusting after the character.

In an interview with PopBuzz just after season 1, Penn confessed that he struggled with his portrayal of the character. When asked if he thought there could be redemption for Joe, he said: "There's no redemption for someone who is behaving that way. I think the only redemption is in death."

"Again, Joe is not a real person. And I, as an actor portraying him—and as a person who really struggled along the way to understand whether or not it was even responsible to be doing this, and portraying him in the way that I did—to me, I'm not interested in Joe's redemption. I'm interested in our redemption. I'm interested in us examining it in a responsible way. So I think I just want to see him change. And I want to see him progress. But it doesn't mean for the better."

You season 2 arrives on Netflix on December 26th.