A fitting conclusion. Penn Badgley is far from Joe Goldberg ’s biggest fan — and the actor has often expressed his interest in watching the fictional character’s story come to an end.
You, which originally debuted on Lifetime in 2018, explored the serial killer as his obsession for a girl grew to terrifying heights. Based off books by Caroline Kepnes, the series found larger success after it moved to Netflix in its sophomore season.
As a new audience found the show, Badgley candidly addressed his mixed feelings toward his role. “Joe is not actually looking for true love,” the Gossip Girl alum told Entertainment Weekly in 2019. “He’s not actually a person who just needs somebody who loves him and he’s a murderer! And he e’s a sociopath. He’s abusive and he’s delusional. And he’s self-obsessed.”
At the time, the Netflix star applauded the show for not allowing Joe to have a happy ending with a love interest.
“This is the way it has to be because he has an irrefutable problem and if it was just like, ‘They were made for each other, all he needed to find was somebody who kills people too,’ that’s not justice,” he added, referring to the season 3 arc between Joe and Victoria Pedretti‘s character, Love Quinn. “I think it’s reflective of reality because I don’t think people who kill are like, ‘I just need somebody who can do the same.’”
Badgley later weighed in on the widespread fascination that fans had with his character. “There are times where Joe is so impossibly sympathetic and even honest and brave. Sometimes he’s the exact perfect balance between chivalrous and allowing his partner to be autonomous and empowered,” the John Tucker Must Die star explained to InStyle in January 2020. “He’s actually in some ways made to be the perfect guy that does this really — to even say it’s terrible is kind of an understatement — thing.”
In response to Badgley’s public dislike of Joe, creator Sera Gamble revealed that she often gets questioned about where the lead character will end up.
During an interview with Bustle in 2021, the screenwriter noted that Badgley “checks in” every season to make sure Joe won’t get a happy ending. “I say ‘No …’ and he goes, ‘Good, just making sure,’” Gamble recalled.
According to the Independent Spirit Award winner, it has been important for the show’s message to remain the same.
“If you’ve done things that Joe has done, change would mean reconciling in yourself that you have murdered more people than you can count readily on one hand,” he explained to Salon in February 2023 about Joe’s situation. “If you’re really there, I think what would require your reconciliation, let alone that with any kind of judgment in society, is more than you’ve indicated at this point you’re capable of, because you’ve done those things.”
Badgley referred to a potential redemption arc as a “catch-22,” adding, “The show is never a clinical portrait of either a serial killer or a man with mental illness. So the fun that we’re able to have when we do all of this is that this is not meant to be real. And to me, that doesn’t take anything away from it. It’s meant to be an exploration, an exercise. There’s an element of fantasy and camp to it that lets us do a lot of things, and, again, I think we benefit from it.”
Scroll down for everything Badgley has said about Joe Goldberg’s eventual conclusion on You:
Following the show’s debut, Badgley made his stance on Joe’s future clear, telling MTV in 2019, “That’s where I feel like we all get a little lost, but actually it’s right there in front of you. He’s never going to be happy or accept anyone, end of story. And yet somehow it’s not the end of the story, and people keep watching.”
Set in Stone
During an interview, Badgley weighed in on a potential redemption arc for Joe. “He’s among the worst,” he told Buzzfeed in January 2020. “I think there needs to be a real sense of justice, not for Joe, but for us in this world that has been created. That probably means Joe will be unhappy because he’s constitutionally unhappy.”
Making a Change
Ahead of the show’s fifth season, the Maryland native reflected on Joe’s consistent behavior.
“I don’t think anything truly profound has changed Joe. I think that part of what the show is doing is showing that he’s never really looking at himself. No matter what happens, actually, he seems to be incapable. It is hard for anybody,” he explained to The Hollywood Reporter in February 2023. “And then once you’ve done some really terrible things, it’s even harder.”
Badgley concluded: “He seems to be positioning himself to make a different change, but everybody is, of course, always wondering when the other shoe is gonna drop. Like, it’s Joe. The [way the] whole thing really works, to put him in London and depict him trying to turn over a new leaf, is because we know he’s not really capable of that. So, we’re just waiting with bated breath to see exactly when and how.”
Credit: Courtesy of Netflix
The Final Story
In response to a question about getting rid of Joe, the Easy A actor detailed to Variety in February 2023, “Is killing Joe enough? Whoever kills him is brought down to his level.”
Badgley noted that there is an ending already planned, adding, “I think it’s the only way it can go.”
His Opinion of Joe
“Joe is a perfect device because you can delve into something, but you always have the safety cord or the safety net of, ‘Yeah, but he’s a hypocrite.’ We are all exploring something earnestly, I think. But of course nobody has a perfect perspective, so if there’s any place where it’s really got some blind spots, well, that’s Joe, frankly. That’s OK. So, in a way, I really like that,” he explained to Salon in February 2023. “It’s like we can dig in and not worry about having a perfectly protected stance, because at the end of the day, Joe is an unreliable narrator and a despicable human being.”
The Stepfather actor continued: “So, just because he’s thinking it and saying it, doesn’t mean that we think it’s right. But he is getting at something, and of course people can identify with that. So to me, Joe is like, he’s a many-sided die. He’s got too many sides, and he needs to die.”
Turning Over a New Leaf
In February 2023, Badgley discussed whether his character could find forgiveness. “Sorry to get kind of heavy, but what about people who go to war and have to do it in a certain context? So where do we draw the line? If we’re in power, if we’re in the seat of deciding who is redeemable or not, it’s a seriously moral question,” he shared with E! News. “And I don’t know who has that power. I’ll go ahead and say Joe can’t change, won’t change.”
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Source: US Magazine
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