“I asked [the creator of the show] Sera Gamble, ‘Can I just do no more intimacy scenes?’” Badgley, 36, revealed in an episode of his “Podcrushed” podcast, which was posted on Thursday, February 9. “This is actually a decision I’d made before I took the show.”
The actor explained that his marriage to Domino Kirke inspired the career choice. “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?” he continued. “Fidelity in every relationship, and especially my marriage, is really important to me.”
Badgley continued: “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?”
In season 4 of the hit Netflix series, which premiered on Thursday, Joe (Badgley) relocates to London to begin a new life as college professor Jonathan Moore. He quickly falls in love with neighbor Kate (Charlotte Ritchie) — but the pair don’t act on their attraction for each other.
“I said to Sera, ‘My desire would be zero, to go from 100 to zero,’” the Gossip Girl alum said on his podcast. “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.”
Badgley praised the screenwriter for accommodating his request, adding, “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.”
The Maryland native started dating Kirke, 39, in 2014 and they tied the knot three years later. At the time, the doula recalled not expecting their relationship to get serious.
“I was sort of getting used to being a single mom, maybe a little too used to it. I had a really good thing with my kid and we were like this little team. Penn and I were dating, but it wasn’t nearly as serious as it is now, of course,” Kirke, who shares 13-year-old son Cassius with ex Morgan O’Kane, told Hey Mama in 2018. “I didn’t think marriage was in the cards for us. So I was sort of just chugging along, surviving and getting through the days, and I think the difference now is that I’m really living.”
Before the pair expanded their family, Kirke praised Badgley for taking on the role of a stepfather. “It’s really nice,” she exclusively told Us Weekly in October 2019. “The stepparent thing is definitely unchartered territory for me ‘cause I didn’t grow up with one, but … he takes care of him really well.”
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The pair welcomed their first child together three years later. “His heart shaped home ❣️ #40dayspostpartum,” the actress captioned an Instagram Story in September 2020 of their newborn son James on the bed with her.