UPDATE: After Penn Badgley said in an interview he had been "molested" by fans during his Gossip Girl days, the actor clarified himself Monday. "The point of my comment was not to confess a personal trauma," he told E! News in a statement. "I was speaking about the way emotional and physical boundaries are violated for someone in the public eye, who is seen as an object of desire."
"Depending on so many factors, it can range from conscious abuse to something very unconscious—and that is the point I was making, cautiously, in the context of a conversation about fanaticism and cultural norms which support manipulative or abusive behavior," Badgley added. "These are the same norms which support predatory men, but not exclusively predatory men. They affect, and infect, us all."
Penn Badgley revealed in an interview that he has "literally been molested" after Gossip Girl skyrocketed him to fame.
He's better known as Dan Humphrey aka Gossip Girl in the eponymous series and plays yet another Internet-obsessed character named Joe in the new Lifetime series You. In an interview with the Daily Beast, Badgley discussed the downsides of fame and how it feels to be on the receiving end of one's obsession.
Gossip Girl was on the air for five years, which is more than enough time for viewers to get attached to a character. He told Daily Beast he's been the object of "pretty full-on obsession," which can come with the territory of being an actor in the spotlight. He said, "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. Because that's what they do."
The publication reported Badgley was "thoughtful and cautious" while discussing this topic and was "quick to acknowledge the privilege that being a man, not to mention a white man, affords him."
The You star brought up other men who have been impacted by the #MeToo movement, such as Terry Crews. Badgley then discussed the expectation versus reality that comes with the territory of being a celebrity. He continued, "You're led as a man, particularly, that when it happens you should feel great about it. Particularly when it comes from someone who's feasibly an object of your desire as well. And 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.'"
In a recent interview with E! News, Badgley affirmed that his new show is anything but a love story. "I disagree with Joe possibly more than anyone," he told E! News. "And I disagree that it's a love story. I don't see it the same way as anyone else."
Post-Gossip Girl, Badgley took time off between acting. His next appearance after the show's finale was two years later in 2014. He did that intentionally. Badgley told Daily Beast, "I definitely had to question if I wanted to keep doing what I've been doing. But I'm excited—I think."
(Originally published on Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018, at 6:19 p.m. PDT.)