To be fair, it’s hard to like a sadistic stalker — but a lot of viewers of the psychological thriller do, which has rubbed the Gossip Girl alum the wrong way since the series premiered on Lifetime in September 2018.
“We can’t lead ourselves to believe that if Joe would simply find the right person that he would be happy — because he’s a f–king murderer,” Badgley said in an interview with Vanity Fair the following year.
When the series based on Caroline Kepnes’ novel of the same name moved to Netflix for season 2 in 2019, the love for the unhinged protagonist only got stronger — and so did Badgley’s disdain for him.
The John Tucker Must Die actor told BuzzFeed in 2020 that he felt “immensely” conflicted about the psychopathic role “every time, other than the period I’m acting on camera, which is between action and cut.”
To be fair, Badgley wasn’t a big fan of his Gossip Girl character either. “It’s not that I don’t like [Dan Humphrey]. It’s just, after a while, you’re known as somebody that you’re just not, and this is somebody who I so am not,” the Maryland native told Vulture in 2012.
Badgley added that the privileged teen, who he played for six seasons between 2007 and 2012, was “a tool on a show with soap-operatic arcs and he needs to be a judgmental douchebag sometimes. I get that. … But it sucks when people call me ‘Dan’ and think that I’m him.”
Dan might have been revealed to be Gossip Girl, but he wasn’t a murderer. Still, Badgley sees a connection between the Lonely Boy and his You doppelgänger, which begins with their creepy social media habits.
“When I first read the pilot script for You, I definitely saw the similarities [between Joe and Dan],” the Easy A actor told InStyle in January 2020. “I think I was really caught between being able to appreciate how that’s an interesting progression of things for me, but also how it’s not.”
As much as Badgley may loathe Joe, he’s impressed by the show’s ability to surprise its audience — and him as well.
“Trust me, as an actor, I find it very challenging to sometimes suspend my disbelief when you’re forced into a position that is just in the literal sense of the word incredible,” he noted. “That’s the interesting thing about this show — it works.”
Keep scrolling to see what else Badgley has said about his You character: