Penn Badgley is clarifying comments he made during an interview in which he said he was “molested” after becoming famous on Gossip Girl.
“The point of my comment was not to confess a personal trauma. I was speaking about the way emotional and physical boundaries are violated for someone in the public eye, who is seen as an object of desire,” Badgley, 31, said in a statement to PEOPLE on Monday.
“Depending on so many factors, it can range from conscious abuse to something very unconscious — and that is the point I was making, cautiously, in the context of a conversation about fanaticism and cultural norms which support manipulative or abusive behavior. These are the same norms which support predatory men, but not exclusively predatory men,” he continued. “They affect, and infect, us all.”
“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,” Badgley told the website.
“Because that’s what they do,” he added.
The Daily Beast described Badley as being “thoughtful and cautious when discussing this” and said he acknowledged “the privilege that being a man, not to mention a white man, affords him.”
Badgley, who is starring as stalker Joe Goldberg in Lifetime’s new drama thriller You, admitted, “these things very much happen, you know.”
“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 said.
“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,’ ” he continued.
On Sunday, Badgley made his debut in You, in which he plays a bookstore manager obsessed with a young woman.
“Using the internet and social media as his tools to gather the most intimate of details and get close to her, a charming and awkward crush quickly becomes obsession as he quietly and strategically removes every obstacle — and person — in his way,” according to Lifetime‘s website.
You airs Sundays (10 p.m. ET) on Lifetime.