Penn Badgley is speaking out about the recent claims made against his You co-star, Chris D'Elia.
The star of the Netflix series told The Los Angeles Times podcast Can't Stop Watching that he felt "very troubled" by allegations that D'Elia has sexually harassed and groomed underaged women. He explained that D'Elia's alleged actions speak to a larger "systemic" issue, which has also led him to question whether You is causing more harm than good for its viewers.
In the series, Penn plays a charming murderer named Joe Goldberg, who befriends a comedian (Chris D'Elia) that sexually assaults the young women that seek his professional guidance. The irony that D'Elia's alleged actions mirrored that of his onscreen persona wasn't lost on those on social media, nor did it escape Badgley.
"I also am thinking about how to somehow not—the idea that a show like ours would indirectly, unwittingly be a haven for people who are abusive is disturbing. It's very disturbing," he reasoned. "What does it take to change that? Because it's not just vetting individuals. There needs to be a change in culture and attitude so that that kind of behavior is so clearly reprehensible, it's so clearly, like, anti-human"
The Gossip Girl actor shared that the accusations against D'Elia prompted producers to speak with Jenna Ortega, the 17-year-old actress who played opposite the comedian in season two, "to make sure she felt safe." Jenna has yet to address the accusations publicly.
He noted that he and the show producers want to make sure the set is a place where the actors "can feel safe and sound," even though their show details dark subject matters like sexual harassment and stalking.
On June 17, D'Elia told TMZ in a statement that he "never knowingly pursued any underage women at any point."
"All of my relationships have been both legal and consensual and I have never met or exchanged any inappropriate photos with the people who have tweeted about me," he stated. "That being said, I really am truly sorry. I was a dumb guy who ABSOLUTELY let myself get caught up in my lifestyle. That's MY fault. I own it. I've been reflecting on this for some time now and I promise I will continue to do better."
Penn said of the series, "You know, to the degree that the subject matter is conflicting and challenging in that end, trying to create that culture, does a show like ours help to create that culture? Well, I know that at least our show is trying to be—thinks about things in a dismantling, deconstructive manner. I would hope that at least our show is not serving to uphold these kind of, like, bunk ways of being and these systems, right?"
He's previously spoken out about the alarming fan responses to his character Joe Goldberg, who is a murderer that preys on young females. Across social media, viewers have expressed adoration and desire for the stalker, something that Penn said he continues to be "troubled" by. "It's always been tongue-in-cheek," the actor said of the show in January. "Part of the strangeness of the concept for me is exactly why we're all watching: Why are we making it? Why is it doing so well? These are interesting questions that have something to do with where we are all at, societally."
D'Elia has yet to comment publicly on Badgley's recent remarks.