16 juicy behind the scenes facts and production secrets about making YOU on Netflix
Joe Goldberg’s character was thought up in a coffee shop when the writer saw a man staring at her
YOU on Netflix is juicy. It’s full of drama, death, obsession, twists and a whole lotta Joe Goldberg thirst. It’s become widely acceptable to fancy serial killer Joe, which can only come off the back of an incredible show with a lot of dedicated fans. So you might be desperate to know some of the wild production secrets behind making a show like YOU. You are? Strap in then, because there are a lot.
From just how those gory scenes are actually made, to how characters are different in the books and cast members who actually auditioned for different roles – here are all the best behind the scenes facts and production secrets about YOU on Netflix.
1. YOU was first a series on Lifetime, but was scrapped after one season
YOU was originally a show on Lifetime, where it ran for one season and then got cancelled. Netflix then jumped in and saved the show, buying the rights for it. A big clue that the first season isn’t Netflix Original is that the first episode is called “Pilot”, and Netflix doesn’t do pilot episodes of its shows.
2. The character of Joe Goldberg was thought up in a coffee shop
The writer of YOU thought up the character of Joe Goldberg when she spotted someone staring at her in a coffee shop. Yes, really. Caroline Kepnes, who wrote the books YOU is based on, told Refinery29 she was on Facebook in Starbucks when it happened. “I went on Facebook. I felt someone over my shoulder, and it was a guy standing there glaring at me. The voice clicked for me in that moment,” she said. “I was obsessing about social media, and I had wanted to write something like this. But it was in that moment that I really got it. Joe is someone who is always the one looking and judging. He’s very at ease with that in himself. That’s where I found this great outlet for my little frustrations.”
3. Victoria Pedretti and Dylan Arnold both initially auditioned for completely different roles
Victoria Pedretti and Dylan Arnold have both revealed they originally auditioned for very different roles than who they ended up playing in the Netflix series. As we know it, Victoria Pedretti plays Love Quinn and Dylan Arnold joined the season three cast as Theo Engler.
However, things could have been very different because Victoria Pedretti originally auditioned for the role of Beck in season one, and Theo auditioned to be Joe Goldberg himself, and then Love’s brother Forty in season two.
4. Penn Badgley nearly turned down the role of Joe Goldberg!
In the past, Penn Badgley has made no secret that he thinks Joe Goldberg is an awful, awful person (he has a point) – but he nearly didn’t take the role at all. He told Entertainment Weekly: “I didn’t want to do it — it was too much. I was conflicted with the nature of the role. If this is a love story, what is it saying? And then what was key in me wanting to jump on board were my conversations with Greg Berlanti and Sera Gamble, the creators, and understanding Joe’s humanity. I knew that I would be conflicted about the role from day one till the last day, and that is why they thought I would be good for it, is that I’m not psyched to play somebody of this nature.”
5. Fake blood in the show is made out of sugar
There’s a lot of blood in YOU. And what the liquid is actually made out of is a mixture of sticky sugar and red dye. Victoria Pedretti has also said in an interview that for some of the really gory scenes there’s a “blood machine” on set which literally shoots the liquid out. Lovely.
6. Prosthetic bodies are used ~a lot~ for all the gruesome scenes
No, Penn Badgley didn’t actually put any body parts through a mincer in *that* season two scene. Instead, it was a prosthetic body, fit with real hair. He told TVLine: “We had a life-sized, very authentic prosthetic body. It was a headless body that was extremely realistic to touch and sight. All of the body hair, each hair, was a real human hair that was applied individually. So the amount of human labor that went into this body was pretty great. It was rigged so that it would bleed when you cut into it. There was also a removable arm.” Penn also wore a prosthetic arm in the scenes where Jasper the debt collector cut off Joe’s finger.
7. ‘You’ was said over 3,800 times in the first two seasons
Joe says it a lot, but the official Instagram for Netflix Australia and New Zealand went a step further and actually calculated the number of times the word “you” has been said on the show throughout the first two seasons – it’s 3,857.
8. Actors had to take an eight-hour safety course for the scene where Beck falls on the train tracks
In one the first big scenes in season one, Beck is drunk and falls onto the train tracks in the subway – and who’s there to help her? Joe Goldberg of course. This scene was actually shot at a New York City subway station and many safety guidelines were in place.
“I had to take an eight-hour course to be on those tracks,” Elizabeth Lail, who plays Beck, revealed in an interview. Penn Badgley said he also took this course, and after it the pair received cards certifying them to go on subway tracks for a year and a half.
9. A lot of the characters don’t exist in the books
The show we see on Netflix is an adaptation of the original books, so it comes with a lot of differences. For a start, a few of the characters are different. Ellie was quite a pivotal part of season two, but she doesn’t exist in the books. Her sister, Delilah, does though.
In season three a few characters aren’t in the books. In this series, we meet the mysterious neighbour next door, Natalie, who Joe becomes obsessed with. In the book, Natalie doesn’t exist and Joe only has one new obsession – who is the equivalent character to Marienne. Madre Linda’s golden couple, Sherry and Cary Conrad, don’t exist either. However, there is a fairly similar couple, called Melanda and Seamus. Melanda is known for gossiping on social media, whilst Seamus is fitness-obsessed.
10. And some major storylines are different in the books too
A lot of the major storylines are different in the books. For a start, Love doesn’t murder anyone – yes anyone at all – in the books. Joe murdered Candice and Delilah, her and Forty’s au pair wasn’t killed and her ex-husband died in an accident. Absolutely nobody dies at Love’s hands in the third book.
Joe also gets arrested in the books. In the break between what we saw in season two and season three starting in the show, whilst Love is pregnant, Joe is arrested. Back in season one and the first book, Joe is stopped by a police officer during a car accident he has on the way to Peach’s house. At that point, he gave a false name. The same officer then recognises Joe when Dr Nicky is speaking about someone being obsessed with Beck.
In the book, putting together some of the clues about Joe, his connections to Beck and his whereabouts when Peach died, Dr Nicky and the officer realise Joe is very much of interest. He’s arrested and kept in prison until Love gives birth. He obviously gets off in the end though. Because of his arrest, Love and Joe breakup and live separately – with Joe not being in contact with their son, who is actually called Forty in the books.
In the books Joe becomes obsessed with a woman who is called Mary Kay (a librarian like Marienne), and seeing this, Love then asks Joe to meet up with her in California. He thinks he is going to meet his son, but instead Love is there with a gun! Love says she feels used, and shoots Joe in the head before turning the gun on herself. Love dies, but Joe survives after spending two weeks in a coma.
11. Penn Badgley and James Scully improvised some of their scenes
One of the show’s more emotional scenes came in season two where Joe and Forty (James Scully) had a chat about Forty’s childhood. Forty breaks down talking to Joe, about how he believed he had killed his au pair. Joe gets down on the floor with Forty, and hugs him as he cries. James Scully told Glamour: “It’s not what was written in the script, but we talked a lot about the relationship between Forty and Joe, which at that point was a little more than a friendship, obviously.
He added: “I think it’s a different kind of [love]. It was two, at least partially heterosexual men, being physically intimate with each other in a way that wasn’t sexual or violent. That was really important to me, and it was really important to Penn.”
12. Paco also didn’t exist in the books, and was made up for a very specific reason
Paco was a favourite in season one, but he didn’t actually exist in the books, and nor did his family who lived next door to Joe. Show creator, Sera Gamble, created the character of Paco to show Joe’s softer side – and since his relationship with Paco was one of the first things audiences saw, that is one of the things which had us all backing Joe no matter what.
“Paco has been a character that illuminates the best, most compassionate side of Joe,” Sera told Variety. “He educates Paco, he gives Paco a sandwich when he’s hungry, he keeps Paco safe.”
13. Shay Mitchell wore her own clothes when she portrayed Peach Salinger
Peach Salinger was a fashion icon, and so is Shay Mitchell, who played her. Shay told Glamour: “I learnt that I much prefer wearing heels over tennis shoes from being on Pretty Little Liars where my hair, make-up, and wardrobe was pretty minimal. I actually loved dressing up like Peach, wearing heels and clothes. I bought so many of my own bags to New York and worked with the costume designer on producing this look. A lot of the clothes are mine, too.”
14. Mooney’s is real!!
The exterior and interior shots of Mooney’s bookstore in season one were all filmed in the same, real location in New York – which actually is a book shop. In real life it’s called Logos Bookstore, and is on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
15. Someone speaks Joe Goldberg’s narration to the actors on set
The glue that holds together YOU is Penn Badgley’s monologue as Joe Goldberg. And if it wasn’t there, a lot of the scenes would actually be completely silent. This can be quite jarring for the actors, so to help prompt them and so they know what’s going on, there’s a stand-in on set to read Penn’s voiceover. Speaking to BuzzFeed, Penn said Danny, his stand-in, will provide the voiceover while they’re filming: “It’s really strange. To be honest, it’s very technical. It’s not like normal acting at all.”
16. Tati Gabrielle had never filmed a sex scene before YOU
Imagine your first ever sex scenes being with Joe Goldberg?! Tati Gabrielle, who plays Marienne, revealed her first ever sex scene was for YOU. She told Page Six she “freaked out” over the scenes. “I was so nervous,” she said. “I told Penn upfront, ‘Hey, I’ve never done this before.’ And he was like, ‘It’s gonna be OK.'”
All three seasons of YOU are available on Netflix now. For all the latest Netflix news, quizzes, drops and memes like The Holy Church of Netflix on Facebook.