You’s Penn Badgley Reveals the Note He "Always" Gets from Directors on Masturbation Scenes

Penn Badgley reflected on the masturbation scenes he has to film for the series You. Learn the one critique Penn always gets from the crew while filming this type of shot.

By Kelly Gilmore Jul 14, 2022 2:37 AMTags
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All in a day's work.

Penn Badgley, who stars as Joe Goldberg on the thrilling series You, shared what it's like for him to film scenes where he fake masturbates for the show—and the experience isn't too pleasant.

"I've now done it so many times on camera. It's a strange—you don't think it's going to be that big of a deal," he shared during the July 13 episode of Stitcher's Podcrushed podcast. "And then you discover in front of a crew of people with a camera on your face, knowing that, in all likelihood, millions of people are going to see this, you're simulating masturbation."

Penn noted that while he isn't exactly sure "how to parse out" the way he feels while filming these shots, he often finds it more difficult than other types of sex scenes, adding, "I have to say sometimes those scenes are harder than with a person because it's just like, alright, this is what I'm doing."

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So, how many times has Penn had to film this task? He noted that it's been at least once during every season of the show. And according to the actor, he has received the same critique each time behind-the-scenes.

"I've always gotten the note to make it less creepy," he shared. "They say like, 'Close your eyes or go faster or go slower.' I'm like, 'What? This man is f--king murder people, and he's masturbating in the street. You're saying I'm making it creepy? How is it I'm the one making it creepy?'"

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Penn shared that the note on closing his eyes was actually something he detested at one point when director Lee Toland Krieger brought it up on set.

"He was like, 'Buddy, I think you gotta close your eyes,'" Penn recalled. "I don't remember exactly what he said. He was very graciously communicating that it was creepy."

As for what Penn had to say back? "I'm like, 'That's the f--king—that's the point.'"

But trying to nail this type of shot has led Penn to reflect on the fine line of having You examine "toxicity and sexual culture while also trying to be sexy." As he noted, "That's just this strange line that we're always walking on our show." 

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