Penn Badgley spoke out for the first time since his You costar Chris D’Elia was accused of sexually harassing and grooming underage girls.
“It did affect me deeply. I was very troubled by it. I am very troubled by it,” the actor, 33, told the Los Angeles Times on Monday, June 22, for an upcoming episode of the “Can’t Stop Watching” podcast. “I don’t know Chris. I know that, if there’s anything we need to do in this age, it’s to believe women.”
He continued, “I also know there’s a lot that I cannot speak to, obviously. And I think the one thing that I can speak to that is maybe relevant for listeners now is that individuals of course need to be brought to justice as much as that is possible. Right? One thing that our culture tends to do quite systematically and methodically is to revel in identifying villains so that the system can remain evil. … Ideally there would be less of those individuals.”
After saying that he has “tried to uphold a certain level of conduct” throughout his life, Badgley pointed out the similarities between the allegations against D’Elia, 40, and the behavior of his You character, Henderson, who drugged and assaulted young women in season 2.
“The idea that a show like ours would indirectly, unwittingly be a haven for people who are abusive is disturbing. It’s very disturbing,” he told the newspaper. “What does it take to change that? Because it’s not just vetting individuals. There needs to be a change in culture and attitude so that that kind of behavior is so clearly reprehensible, it’s so clearly, like, anti-human.”
He elaborated, “I know that at least our show is trying to be — thinks about things in a dismantling, deconstructive manner. I would hope that at least our show is not serving to uphold these kind of, like, bunk ways of being and these systems, right?”
The Gossip Girl alum also assured fans that the producers of You made sure Jenna Ortega, who played Ellie Alves, “felt safe” while filming scenes with D’Elia, including the one where his character drugged hers.
Several women accused the stand-up comedian of sexual misconduct on Twitter and in an L.A. Times story last week. He responded to the claims in a statement to TMZ on Wednesday, June 17.
“I know I have said and done things that might have offended people during my career, but I have never knowingly pursued any underage women at any point,” he said. “All of my relationships have been both legal and consensual and I have never met or exchanged any inappropriate photos with the people who have tweeted about me. That being said, I really am truly sorry. I was a dumb guy who ABSOLUTELY let myself get caught up in my lifestyle. That’s MY fault. I own it. I’ve been reflecting on this for some time now and I promise I will continue to do better.”
D’Elia was subsequently dropped by his agents at CAA. In addition, his Workaholics episode, in which he portrayed a child molester, was pulled from Comedy Central, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video.
If you or anyone you know has been sexually abused, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673). A trained staff member will provide confidential, judgment-free support as well as local resources to assist in healing, recovering and more.