This interview contains spoilers for Season 2 of the Netflix series ‘You.’
Victoria Pedretti has played her share of women on the edge of madness lately: One might think that after embodying the tortured soul of Nell Crain in ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ and portraying the Manson family member Leslie Van Houten in ‘Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood,’ she would be keen to take a break.
But when the creators of the Netflix series ‘You’ approached her about an interesting new role — another killer, but a deeply sympathetic one — she couldn’t turn it down.
“I wanted to see what I can offer to this story,” she said. “And I felt like I had the tools.”
Fans of ‘You’ — its season 2 arrived last week — are already familiar with the obsessive and charming Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley), who seduces women before eventually killing them. (RIP, Guinevere Beck.) But he meets his match this season in Pedretti’s character, Love Quinn, a woman who is just as obsessive and charming — and just as willing to do whatever it takes to preserve a relationship.
Pedretti was eager to take the challenge because, much like the experience of delving into the mind of Nell, it allowed her to exercise her “muscle of empathy,” she said. Like Nell, Love is a woman so scarred by familial trauma that she clings to an unhealthy image of love. And the similarities don’t end there.
“One of the most interesting things to me is that the character they described was a twin to an addict, and a widow, like Nell,” Pedretti said. “It was really bizarre to be offered the opportunity to explore these similar experiences through a completely different mind.”
Different is one way to put it: By the season 2 finale, even Joe is turned off by Love, who is pregnant with their child, as he plots his next prey. But for viewers, Love remains transfixing — and deeply sad — because of Pedretti’s evident compassion for her character. “I love Love wholeheartedly,” she said. “The things that she does that are difficult, she finds difficult.”
Pedretti talked about her disarming new role, the next season of ‘Haunting’ and finding love for Love. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.
Q: It’s fascinating to watch you play Love because she is so similar to Nell but the two have very different ways of dealing with familial trauma. Love compartmentalises it so intensely that it manifests in violence. She almost seems at peace when she tells Joe that she killed his landlord, Delilah Carmela Zumbado.
A: Oh my gosh, what a beautiful moment. This murderer looking at Love like she’s crazy. When I read the script, I was like: ‘How am I going to figure out how to perform this? How does this make sense in relation to the behaviour that I’ve already presented?’
Q: What did you decide was most important for you to convey at that point?
A: I didn’t want to do anything differently from the way the audience is used to seeing her through Joe’s voice-over. I wanted to still be fully engaged in the character and what her life is and the ways in which she acts. So that if you go back, you can see that she has all the qualities that make her capable of doing something like this.
Q: It also becomes clear that Love is not a woman who needs to be rescued — she is capable of killing someone right underneath Joe’s nose and smoothly covering her tracks. It frustrates Joe’s relentless narrative that women are weak without him.
A: Yes. You cannot possibly look at this woman and go, ‘Oh, she’s hard.’ But she comes in saying what she has to say; she’s not delicate by any means. Look at what she’s been through and the way in which she’s dealt with it. She shows an incredible amount of strength. She supports him so much because she sees this kindred spirit in him. He’s also somebody who’s dealt with pain. So, she feels that he deserves to have the same kind of peace and self-possession that she has found through years of practice.
Q: Still, Love and Joe seem to have compassion for each other, in their own twisted ways. Do you believe love is a necessity?
A: I believe in love and art above all things, and that there is the way to good, healthy, productive, tender, warm love. But it is rare and hard to find. It is not something that we’re taught. I’m working on ‘The Haunting of Bly Manor’ [Netflix’s follow-up season to ‘The Haunting of Hill House’] right now, which deeply explores a lot of themes in love and different forms of so-called love. There are so many kinds of relationships that we call love that I believe aren’t love. We probably overuse the word, but I don’t think people are sitting around and trying to find it that much.
Q: You made your screen debut just five years ago and have already been a part of some incredible projects, including ‘You,’ the ‘Haunting’ series, and ‘Once Upon a Time.’ What have you most cherished about your experience so far?
A: The past two years have been a whirlwind. I feel incredibly gifted and blessed to have the opportunity to do what I love. I look at every experience as a learning experience. So, every day is like going back to school and negotiating the things you thought you knew with the new things that you’re learning and expanding your heart and mind. Your acting muscle is the muscle of empathy. I just feel like I’m working really hard, and I love it.