Creating boundaries. Penn Badgley, Neal McDonough and more stars have candidly discussed their decisions not to film sex scenes in future projects.
When season 4 of You premiered in February 2023, the Gossip Girl alum broke down how his marriage to Domino Kirke shifted his time filming the Netflix series.
“I asked [the creator of the show] Sera Gamble, ‘Can I just do no more intimacy scenes?'” Badgley revealed during an episode of his “Podcrushed” podcast. “This is actually a decision I’d made before I took the show.”
He continued: “I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned it publicly, but one of the main things was, like, do I want to put myself back on a career path where I’m just always the romantic lead. Fidelity in every relationship, and especially my marriage, is really important to me.”
At the time, the actor explained that he thought about cutting back on intimacy scenes as soon as he accepted the role of Joe Goldberg. (You debuted in 2018.)
“It just got to a point where I don’t want to do that. Before I took the show, it was a question, ‘Do I have a career if I don’t?’ Think about every male lead you’ve loved. Are they kissing someone? Are they doing a lot more than that?” Badgley, who welcomed a son with his wife in September 2020, continued. “I said to Sera, ‘My desire would be zero, to go from 100 to zero.’ But I signed this contract, I signed up for this show, I know what I did. You can’t take this aspect out of the DNA of the concept, so ‘How much less can you make it?’ was my question for them.”
The Easy A actor credited You‘s showrunner for allowing him the freedom to veto future sex scenes, saying, “She didn’t even bat an eye. She was really glad that I was that honest, and she had a really positive response. She appreciated my directness, and she appreciated that I was being reasonable and practical. And they came back with a phenomenal reduction.”
Meanwhile, McDonough claimed his stance on not kissing costars cost him a role on ABC’s Scoundrels.
“I was [surprised], and it was a horrible situation for me,” the 100 alum recalled to Closer in 2019 about his decision not to film steamy scenes with Virginia Madsen. “After that, I couldn’t get a job because everybody thought I was this religious zealot. I am very religious. I put God and family first, and me second. That’s what I live by. It was hard for a few years. But I was not going to lose the fight. And it worked. My career has been phenomenal.”
The Massachusetts native, who is a devout Catholic, also praised the way Desperate Housewives accommodated his request. (McDonough played Nicollette Sheridan’s husband on the hit drama from 2008 to 2009.)
“When [creator] Marc Cherry signed me, I said, ‘I’m sure you know, but I won’t kiss anybody,’” the Yellowstone star, who has been married to modal Ruvé Robertson since 2003, continued. “He was like, ‘But this is Desperate Housewives!’ I said, ‘I know.’ He paused for about five seconds and said, ‘All right, I’m just going to have to write better.’ And we had a great time.”
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Scroll down for other stars who have publicly opted out of filming sex scenes: