‘Gossip Girl’ Star Penn Badgley Says He Was Molested By ‘Obsessive Fans’

Badgley says he's experienced the ugly side of fame

Penn Badgley attends the 'You' Series Premiere Celebration hosted by Lifetime
Mike Pont / Getty Images

Badgley says he's experienced the ugly side of fame

Penn Badgley starred on the hit show Gossip Girl as Dan Humphrey and achieved a certain level of fame that he says had a dark side. As he plunges back into a television series again about obsessive love, he thinks back on those Gossip Girl days.

The Daily Beast interviewed Badgley about the blurred lines between fantasy and reality and real life and television. He says that when you are on television people assume that they know you, and there is a scary aspect of that.

“I think as an actor you can become an object of desire, which is something women are already accustomed to more or less around the world — I’ve definitely been, I mean I don’t want to sound sensationalist, but I’ve literally been molested — just in the literal sense of the word — by many people in the moment. Because that’s what they do.”

Badgley adds that the me too movement and what happened to actor Terry Crews have made him think more about past events and things that are just not okay.

“These things very much happen, you know.”

The actor says that men are supposed to be flattered by the physical attention, but sometimes it feels wrong.

In Badgley’s new project, called You, he plays Joe, a man who knows all about blurred lines.

“And it’s interesting to even hear you have that reaction, like ‘I’m sorry,’ because I didn’t even think of it that way then,” he continued. “You’re led as a man, particularly, that when it happens you should feel great about it. Particularly when it comes from someone who’s feasibly an object of your desire as well. And I think that’s the interesting thing about this show, is that Joe looks like me, he acts and talks like me to a degree, so I think the audience is supposed to be like, ‘Aw that might be nice if someone was that infatuated with me.'”

Badgley’s character Joe takes things a lot further than most and locks women up in a sound-proof room in his basement. While he explains that nobody has ever held him against his will, he says he has been on the receiving end of unwanted touching by fans.

“I don’t want to sound sensationalist, but I’ve literally been molested — just in the literal sense of the word — by many people in the moment. Because that’s what they do.

Badgley hopes that the me too movement will continue to stimulate more conversations about boundaries.