“What’s up with your crazy eyes?” Gina Rodriguez asked Penn Badgley during their Variety Actors on Actors chat, referencing the psychopathic stalker he plays on Netflix and Lifetime’s “You.”
“People have asked me, ‘What is it about your face?’ I’m like, ‘Isn’t that acting?’ You’re asking me how I make my facial expressions,” he said.
Badgley plays Joe Goldberg, a seemingly charming bookkeeper who’s actually a violently infatuated stalker who stops at nothing from pursuing his love interest, Guinevere Beck. Rodriguez suggested that maybe he found the inspiration for his creepy eyes from someone he saw on the street, but Badgley disagreed.
“Oh god, I’m not sure what I do. I don’t find it difficult to access what apparently people define as creepiness or even rage,” he said.
Badgley co-starred as the sensitive heartthrob Dan Humphrey on “Gossip Girl,” and said he invokes some of the same persona into Joe, but viewers take it differently with the creepier context of “You.”
“Somehow people find that it has far more depth and they find it far more roguish and charming. And it’s like, ‘Well, yeah, it’s just because I’m killing people in the next scene,'” he said.
After binging “You” on Netflix earlier this year, many people tweeted at Badgley about how much they loved the deranged hunk. He attributed Joe’s popularity to his being an “evil white man,” a character people aren’t supposed to be attracted to, but they are nevertheless.
“The cultural norms that we’re still are indoctrinated by incline us to forgive a certain kind of person, namely someone that looks like myself,” he said.
“Actors on Actors” will air on PBS June 18th and 20th.