Penn Badgley spoke about the challenges of filming Joe Goldberg's masturbation scene on 'You.'

Penn Badgley Argued With A You Director Over Joe's Creepy Masturbation Scenes

"That’s just the strange line that we’re always walking on our show."


Murdering people is easy, but self-love can be hard. Well, at least that’s true for Joe Goldberg. You’s central serial killer has had some very interesting sex scenes throughout the series, and the most bizarre are always the ones when he’s by himself. And it turns out, those are also the most complicated to film. Penn Badgley got real about the behind-the-scenes conversations when filming You’s masturbation scenes, and his quotes are pretty wild.

As an obsessive stalker who fully loses himself to his sexual fantasies of whatever random woman he’s fixated on, Joe pleasures himself a lot. Those scenes are always super uncomfortable to watch (as they should be), and they’re also pretty strange to film, as Penn Badgley revealed on a recent episode of his podcast Podcrushed. The actor revealed he’s always gotten the same note when filming those masturbation scenes, but he still disagrees with it.

“Every time I’ve done a masturbation scene … I’ve always gotten the note to make it less creepy,” Badgley said. “They say like, ‘Close your eyes or go faster or go slower.’ I’m like, ‘What? This man is f*cking murdering 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?'”

Badgley specifically referred to the scene in the series premiere in which Joe masturbates on the sidewalk outside of his obsession Beck’s apartment. That episode was directed by Lee Toland Krieger, and Badgley recalled how Krieger asked him to close his eyes while pleasuring himself to make the scene less creepy.

“I just remember I wouldn’t close my eyes and the director came up to me,” Badgley said. “He was like ‘Buddy, I think you gotta close your eyes.’”


The actor admitted he argued with Krieger over whether Joe’s eyes should be open or not, and in the end, Badgley’s vision won out. In the final cut, Joe’s gaze is fixated on Beck the whole time he’s masturbating behind a bush.

“That’s just the strange line that we’re always walking on our show,” Badgley said of the complexities of filming that scene. “Examining toxicity in sexual culture while also trying to be sexy.”

That early scene definitely helped to cement You’s signature creepy, voyeuristic tone, which is still at the core of Joe’s unsavory misadventures. Everyone’s favorite serial killer will be back for another round in You Season 4, which is wrapping up filming this summer and is expected to premiere toward the end of 2022 or the beginning of 2023.