Penn Badgley Almost Refused His Role in “You” Due to Many Explicit Scenes but Accepted It Thanks to His Wife’s Support
Penn Badgley is known to many viewers for his roles as the enigmatic Dan Humphrey in Gossip Girl and the ominous Joe Goldberg in You. In real life, Penn is not like his characters. He is a loving father and husband who values faithfulness in marriage so much that he is willing to do anything, even sacrifice a lead role in a TV series.
Penn decided he’d fall in love with Domino as soon as he heard her name.
Penn Badgley met his wife, Domino Kirke, after the end of Gossip Girl (2007–2012). Domino hadn’t watched the series because she was busy raising a child and had no idea Penn was famous. She thought he was a cute guy and knew a little about him from her friends. Badgley needed a place to live, so Kirke suggested her place, but he refused. Penn was charmed by Domino as soon as he heard her name, “I even said the words, ‘I feel like I can fall in love with that person.’”
They didn’t start dating right away. Domino thought that Penn was in a relationship, so they just texted for some time. But once, Kirke was driving along Penn Street and remembered Penn, so she decided to ask him out.
The fact that Kirke was a single mom didn’t stop him.
Gradually, their relationship turned into a romantic one. By the time they met, Domino already had a child. It was important for her that Penn, who was searching for his place in the world after finishing a role in a popular TV series, chose to be with her. “The fact that he was even willing to spend time with me as a mother and explore that was very moving to me. I saw how many other places he could’ve gone, the kinds of women he could’ve been with, the spaces he could’ve entered into, that he just didn’t based on who he is,” Kirke said.
They got married twice.
Penn and Domino started dating in 2014 and got married in 2017. In February, they had a small ceremony in the courthouse with their friends and family. And in June of the same year, they got married again. Domino even wrote a post saying, “You only get married twice, once.” Some celebrities who were on the guest list of the second ceremony included Mariska Hargitay, Zac Posen, and Debra Messing.
Their path to parenthood wasn’t easy.
In August 2020, the couple had their first child together, which Domino announced on social media a few weeks after giving birth. They faced difficulties on the path to parenthood. Before the birth of their son, Kirke had 2 miscarriages and wrote that she had stopped trusting her body.
Joe Goldberg, the character that Penn plays in the series You (2018-...), also becomes a father in one of the seasons. However, the actor’s experience as a parent didn’t quite match his character’s story. “Sometimes it was almost not helpful because I was having such a light and joyful experience — still am — and Joe is so petrified,” Badgley noted.
The spouses are learning to deal with the actor’s popularity.
The lead role in You brought Penn a new wave of popularity. In one interview, Domino talked about still trying to get used to her husband’s fame. He was already well-known thanks to Gossip Girl, but now he has become the star of this new series, and the couple has to adapt to these changes together.
However, as Domino says, Penn doesn’t try too hard to hide from fans. Their family lives in New York, where the actor can be recognized at every turn. Sometimes Kirke has to remind her husband of his popularity and ask him to wear sunglasses or a cap to avoid attention.
Penn was ready to refuse this big role for his wife.
In the series You, there are quite a few explicit scenes. Penn admitted that he never liked this part of the job and would prefer not to do such scenes at all. The actor explained his opinion by saying that he highly values faithfulness in relationships. He was willing to refuse the role of Joe altogether. But it was his wife who convinced him to take on the job.
The show had many explicit scenes during the first three seasons, but there are fewer in the 4th one. Penn decided to talk to the creators and asked them to decrease their number. The producers happily obliged. Penn revealed, “Fidelity in every relationship, including my marriage, is important to me. It’s got to the point where I don’t want to do that.”
Penn was not the only actor who put his partner’s feelings first. Other colleagues supported him. For example, Liam Neeson said he couldn’t watch such scenes featuring himself and hated doing them. Instead, he preferred to “leave it to the imagination.”