Actor Penn Badgley is best known for his role as Dan Humphrey on the CW’s “Gossip Girl.” But this young actor has started to branch out to movie roles with his film debut in “The Stepfather,” opening Oct. 16. The State News participated in a conference call with Badgley to talk about his new movie.
Question How is this film different from things you’ve done in the past?
Penn Badgley First off, it’s a movie role. I think the biggest difference is two things; I didn’t really have much to say, even though I was a lead. The character is really quiet. He is sort of pissed off coming back from military reform school. He’s partially reformed, but he is definitely a little bitter. The physicality of the role (was difficult). Aside from getting in shape a little bit, I was required to do some stunts and had to do some stuff that I never had to do before, which was fun.
Q What drew you to the film?
PB Right from the start, the thing that attracted me to it was that it was something different. The nature of (television) is so different because you’re doing a lot of the same things; it’s cyclical. Every moment in every movie you get one chance. You have that one moment and it won’t happen again. In television, you have episodes and episodes and seasons and seasons to get it right.
Q Do you think you will stick with horror movies?
PB I am a more versatile actor. It was a fun experience and I had fun doing it, but it would take a whole lot for me to do another horror film.
Q Are you a fan of horror films?
PB I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m a fan of horror films. Around this time of year, I’m definitely game. I think it’s really fun. That’s the whole point of these movies. Yeah, you want to terrify the audience, but the whole reason that anybody does that is because it’s fun. I think I’m more of a fan of making them.
Q What character do you identify yourself with more, Dan Humphrey or Michael Harding from “The Stepfather?”
PB Dan is more relatable in a lot of ways because he is the everyman and he is pretty ordinary in most ways. (Michael) has problems, where I feel like Dan Humphrey doesn’t have problems. He has problems, but they aren’t that problematic. For me, Michael is much more of a real, vulnerable kid. I remember when I was 16 and I was alternately hating one of my parents — it’s just the way every kid is.
Q How was the transition to film from television?
PB For me, it was natural. Film is where I wanted to be for years. It was definitely exciting and a new territory and I definitely took it in strides. It wasn’t so much that I was really so conscious of changing from one role to the other.
It wasn’t like, I played this character on television now I’m playing this character in the movie, let’s change accordingly. You read the lines, you access what’s going on, and you go through it as naturally as that character might. It wasn’t necessarily easy, but it was seamless and fun.
Q What personal touches did you, the directors and the writers make to separate this film from the 1980s original?
PB (The original) was more of an eerie, creepy slasher film and this was more of a broad thriller. I think there’s more of a story that will draw you in and keep you invested. (In the original) my character was a girl.
I think they changed that to make the relationship between the stepfather and my character to be one where you can only see one of two ways for it to end, that probably one of them was dying. So it has to end in a battle, so it’s a different kind of rapport that they developed.
Q Do you think we will see more male protagonists in horror films?
PB I don’t know how it will influence or if it is a sign of the change. It’s less predatory, because now the character can go head-to-head with the killer. I think it just changes the whole dynamic between the killer and the victim — they’re less victimized. I think it’s an exciting one.
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