'You' and 'The White Lotus' Star Lukas Gage Is 'Here for' a New 'Era' of Sex Positivity on Screen

Gage tells PEOPLE he's "never making fun of anyone's kinks" through his acting choices: "With really good writing and fully formed characters, their sexuality and their sex life are a part of that"

Lukas Gage
Photo: Bret Lemke

Warning: This article contains spoilers from season 4 of Netflix's You.

Lukas Gage is no stranger to making a splash with a surprising sex scene.

After appearing in that bold moment in season 1 of The White Lotus and providing another memorable scene in Netflix's newly-released fourth season of You, the 27-year-old actor tells PEOPLE "it would be a disservice to never see" unapologetic sex positivity on screen.

For him, "really good writing and fully formed characters [means] their sexuality and their sex life are a part of that," Gage explains. "I think we're entering an era of just truthful storytelling and authenticity. ... So I'm okay with it. I'm here for it."

You. Lukas Gage as Adam in episode 404 of You
Courtesy of Netflix

In developing the "very layered" and "very complicated" role of Adam Pratt with You creators/executive producers Sera Gamble and Greg Berlanti, he explains that "it was really important for us to not kink-shame ever and [to] be sex-positive."

A manipulative and entitled social climber engaged to Lady Phoebe (Tilly Keeper), Adam quickly makes an impression on fans in episode 2 of the new season when he rudely berates a waiter in public, only for the power dynamic to take a sharp turn.

Gage explains that Adam's quest for dominance "transfers into his personal life and his sexuality" when he and the waiter sneak off together and engage in what the kink community refers to as "water sports" or a "golden shower."

"We're never making fun of anyone's kinks or anything. It's a part of him," adds Gage. "I think there are underlying reasons for everyone's likes and kinks."

Lukas Gage
Bret Lemke

The Euphoria alum's own sexuality has been the topic of speculation — and criticism — in the past, previously telling one fan accusing him of queer-baiting that "u dont know my alphabet."

Now Gage tells PEOPLE: "I understand the importance of representation in everyone's voices. And as I'm becoming more of a public figure, I'm figuring out how to navigate where public and private intersect.

"For me," he explains, "there are just some areas in my life that I don't want to shout out to the world on anyone's accord but my own."

Fans' demand for knowledge about stars' lives off screen is nothing new, and Gage also calls it "a shame" that actors like 18-year-old Heartstopper lead Kit Connor feel pressured to come out.

"I think we're all just trying to navigate where that line intersects with keeping some things private and some things public because you are a public figure," he says. "It's a double-edged sword, and it's an interesting line that I'm still figuring out."

You. (L to R) Penn Badgley as Joe Goldberg, Lukas Gage as Adam in episode 404 of You
Courtesy of Netflix

Based on the books by Caroline Kepnes, You stars Penn Badgley as Joe Goldberg, who quickly forms obsessions with the women in his life while grappling with his traumatic past that shaped the cunning serial killer he grew to be.

Gage says that Badgley, 36, "is the greatest lead that you would ever want."

"He takes everyone under his wing. He's calm. ... He's maybe the good parts of Joe, where he'll always be reading and lending you a book or being a walking encyclopedia," he says. "Not the stalking or any of the bad parts."

Badgley is also one of the few people who could offer Gage an extra boost of confidence about his cameo in the recent series finale of HBO Max's Gossip Girl. While the actors were filming You in London, Badgley — who played OG Gossip Girl Dan Humphrey in the 2007–2012 CW series — gave Gage his stamp of approval after Gage briefly flew to New York City to film scenes for the reboot.

"I told him when I came back, and I got his blessing. He said, 'Good for you,'" Gage recalls. "As a fan of the original Gossip Girl, it was cool to get Penn's blessing."

You. Penn Badgley as Joe Goldberg in episode 401 of You.
Courtesy of Netflix

In addition to Badgley, Gage also names White Lotus costars Jennifer Coolidge, Murray Bartlett and Molly Shannon as influences on his ascendant career on screen.

"All three of them have just been very kind mentors to me," he says. "They've been around for a while and they're such legends. I'm just so lucky that I have them. Also, they're hilarious and so talented."

And White Lotus creator Mike White was instrumental, too, booking a then-teenaged Gage for one of his first on-screen roles in a 2013 appearance on Enlightened. A decade later, Gage says he'd "gladly" return for a future season of The White Lotus — or any other White show.

"Mike White can do whatever he wants," he tells PEOPLE. "I'm on board."

Lukas Gage
Lukas Gage. Rich Fury/Getty

With upcoming roles in HBO Max's Dead Boy Detectives, Fargo season 5 and the feature adaptation of How to Blow Up a Pipeline, Gage is also adding 'writer' to his résumé with Down Low, premiering next month at SXSW.

"It was nice to have some kind of control," he says. "Because as an actor, we kind of have to really roll with the punches and we don't get much creative say."

Co-written with Phoebe Fisher and costarring Gage and Zachary Quinto, Down Low is being touted as "an outrageous comedy about one wild night, a deeply repressed man, the twink who gives him a happy ending, and all the lives they ruin along the way."

Simon Rex, Judith Light and Audra McDonald also costar, and Gage admits he's "still in disbelief that I have Tony Award-winning actors saying words that I wrote on my couch. It seems so insane to me, but it was really fun."

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Part 1 of You season 4 is now streaming on Netflix and part 2 premieres March 9.

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