Why Penn Badgley Is the "Perfect Actor to Play a Serial Killer" on You

Humanitarian, husband...and natural-born serial killer? The cast of You broke down why Penn Badgley is the ideal murderer on-screen. Plus, is his character, Joe, a feminist? Watch now.

By Samantha Bergeson Oct 13, 2021 8:00 PMTags
Watch: Netflix's "You" Cast Analyzes Joe's Complex Character

Someone other than Penn Badgley playing Joe GoldbergYou've got to be kidding. 

Ahead of the You season three premierereturning Friday, Oct. 15 on Netflix, the cast exclusively dished to E! News about why Badgley is the perfect guy-next-door murderer—and we couldn't agree more. 

The Gossip Girl alum is an international celebrity thanks to his sinister on-screen persona. As season three guest star Shalita Grant gushed, "He's a mega-star. My partner's family even wants his autograph." 

According to Grant, it's Badgley's real-life personality that makes his You character relatable and empathetic...even when he's beating someone to death. It's that duality of charm, kindness and heart from Badgley IRL that, with a bloodied twist, can craft the complex character of Joe. "He's actually the perfect actor to play a serial killer because he's the nicest guy, in all honesty," Grant continued. "If he were a different guy, I'm not sure the show would work."

Everything We Know About You Season 3

While Joe "calls himself a feminist," as showrunner Sera Gamble noted, the character is in fact confirmed to be "intensely misogynistic," despite his performative (and deadly!) attempts to prove otherwise. 


Badgley's on-screen wife Victoria Pedretti added, "I think it all depends on how you define feminism. I think right now there are large amounts of ways to define what it means to be a feminist and I think that it's really personal. And I think that Joe as himself, I feel like he would say he's a feminist. I feel like he says that!" 

Or, like Badgley explained, we just have to buy into Joe's...maturity? 

"He's trying, within his own psychological profile," Badgley exclusively revealed. "I think you can be becoming more human certainly at the same time losing your humanity in other ways. They're not mutually exclusive. There are certain things that he is not changing, then it's kind of worth nothing I guess, but he is definitely having new experiences."

Badgley continued, "Whatever Joe's very specific psychological profile might be, he definitely tries. I, as an actor, have to believe him. It's new for me."


And, Joe's complexity is what drives You. "I think what the creators of the show do so well is within this device where the person is ultimately irredeemable, they do explore things that healthy people should be exploring," Badgley summed up. "It doesn't go all the way loving and tender, but it approaches it and it's these glimpses of it."

Watch the full interview above to also hear about Pedretti's favorite scene with Badgley.

You returns Friday, Oct. 15 on Netflix.

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