Victoria Pedretti feels good. Framed by Zoom’s highlighted yellow rectangle, she hugs one knee, laughs slightly, and leans against the wall. She often takes a moment to choose the right words, but she also likes to deviate from the script.
When I tell her my friend cried at the end of her last show The haunted Bly Manor (and now I’ve told the world … oops), she calls him a crybaby and allows herself a giggle at the obligatory “I’m just kidding”. When she ponders out loud the difference between comedy and drama, she starts thinking about a point just to pause before giving a sarcastic “scratch that”. Whatever. I didn’t even say that. “
It’s a world different from Pedretti Bly Manor Character could handle the situation. Dani, bless her, fights fear, insecurity, and guilt as much as any paranormal force in the entire series, only to spend eternity as a ghost at the bottom of a lake after a loving few years with Jamie. Not that her former character Nell Crain, who played a memorable, breakneck role in the first episode of Mike Flanagan’s Netflix anthology series, The Haunted Hill Houseit was all the better. (Pedretti argues we shouldn’t feel bad for Nell either, but it’s a little difficult not to.)
The 25-year-old actress has certainly found a niche in the macabre – a genre that only grows in step with the horrors of the world. Her first major role in Hill HouseShe appeared to Penn Badgley’s murderous friend Of‘s second season as the surprisingly violent love Quinn; next to Elisabeth Moss in Shirley, a biopic about the author behind the gothic novel that inspired Hill House;; and as a member of the psychotic Spahn Ranch troupe in the Gore virtuoso Quentin Tarantino Once upon a time … in Hollywood.
Pedretti admits she has a knack for darker roles and enjoys them too. They are “truer,” she explains. She seems like the type of person who values rightness.
Under the Bly Manor The actress speaks about Dani’s sacrifice, explains why the character’s weirdness isn’t a central part of her identity, and offers her own take on the show’s ambiguous ending.
Did you do something else with your voice to play Dani? Is that what I imagined?
I do something different with my voice for each character. I hope this is part of the job. But yeah, I definitely have a dialect.
It took us a while to figure out where it was from and we placed it in Iowa. I thought it was really important [to show that in her voice]mostly because I know that older people tend to have stronger dialects. So someone from the 80s will have a stronger dialect than someone who lives in the same area today just because the media somehow helped kill the dialect. Because it is not shown, it is considered different. And if you’re a bit different, you should probably kill anything that makes people realize that. [Laughs.]
Being different is also something Dani has to do with, isn’t it? I can imagine that it was much more difficult to be gay back then.
Total. And I think there is something – she’s not like a New Yorker in London who is out and about in London. She’s from the midwest. She is protected, not in terms of her experience, but in terms of her notoriety and cultural awareness and the like. She would jump into the deep end of the pool and choose to spontaneously travel around Europe.
She has a compelling reason to get away.
And that’s the brave, open-minded, like – who the hell gave her the right? Law? But it’s like, no, like I have to feed myself. I have to experience this because that’s life. That really impressed me at first. Who does that? This is an extraordinary person and how can I live up to that?
But the ghosts she’s trying to flee seem to have a different species or origin than the ghosts at Bly Manor – and she defeats them differently.
Well, the first mind is a manifestation of guilt that she is fleeing from, and that’s part of what motivates her to leave … Something tragic happens and she is suddenly filled with that guilt that haunts her. And she has a hard time believing that she is a good person.
And when she’s around the house, dealing with the kids, trying to do the right things, she finds that it still doesn’t get away from her. I think there is this moment in her when she has to deal with it. It’s just: “This guilt doesn’t serve me. It’s just ruining my life. And me bin a good person. “She actually confronts her and takes care of it, and then she can accept the love that lies before her that she couldn’t offer – until she could.
The other spirits are actual beings who inhabit the house, the imprisoned souls of the people who died there. They are usually not confrontational, just very confused – but then there is the lady in the lake who keeps everyone there by sheer will.
Dani deals with [the Lady in the Lake] in a very different way. In the end, she must take on the burden of this creature’s anger in order to free everyone else. She has to make a sacrifice to protect the children, so she takes the soul of the spirit into her being … And then one of her eyes has a different color. [Laughs.]
Do you think that’s her hand on Jamie’s shoulder in this last scene?
I don’t think it’s her real hand. But I think it’s her presence. I think it’s her love I think it’s her dedication.
Do you think it’s sad or sweet that Jamie still keeps the door open all these years later?
It’s both, right ?! I really hope Jamie and Owen can find love again, you know, but I think a love as big as the two of them have just made one hell of a big impact. It is very difficult to achieve what both of them had. Even if they find love again, that print will never go away.
I find life really sad and sweet. That’s just the way it is, and I appreciate that [showrunner] Mike [Flanagan] has this devotion to show the duality in it. He will not make us lose in tragedy, and he will not make us lose in fantasy.
I mean, I think your character is doing a little better this season than it did compared to Hill House Nell Crain. Or no?
No, I do not think so. I think Nell has a great love too. Nell experiences a beautiful love that lasts with her. I think both of them have a lot of tragedy and a lot of good too. I don’t feel like we have to feel sorry for them, you know? It is just the way it is. The story was written before it began. It would never go any other way.
You did a lot of dark shows. Is that an area you want to stay in, or is it difficult for you to get into that headspace at times?
Yes, I would definitely like to venture outside. But I also enjoy it a lot and have a knack for it. I’m ready to go there and I don’t see it as because I’m doing sad shows, it’s sad. We have a lot of fun on the set, we keep a great sense of ease with all of the tragic shit I’ve done. I mean you have to do this somehow.
Mike had a tendency to be like that for season one – we’d do a scene like me and Jordane [Christie, the actor who played Arthur] dance at the wedding and he would be [mimics nudging] “They both die. Let’s not forget they both die. “And it was this grounding within the places of joy and then within the dark moments that found moments of laughter. You know? You can fall over trying to be scared of a ghost and fall in ways that just look unrealistic and fun!
So yeah, I want to explore beyond that, but I’ve really enjoyed the work I’ve done so far. And I like these rooms. I think it’s truer
I know the internet went a long way in getting you to name Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones as your celebrities, and I suspect they will be amazed if you play a strange character Bly Manor. But I know you said it shouldn’t be a big deal that you named these people – do you see Dani’s relationship the same way?
Yes. Very much so. It is clearly not straight. And that’s where it ends; I don’t think we should make assumptions beyond that. That’s it. She loves who she loves.
I mean their relationship is pretty adorable.
Yes. I … I love her. They really hit their match.
In order to-
As we don’t know – I always thought Nell was probably weird. You know she’s marrying a man, that doesn’t mean that she … Right? Why do we do – we don’t know your life. And it’s not relevant.
In this situation in Dani’s life it becomes relevant … And [for Nell] it is still relevant, but it is not relevant to this story from the perspective from which it is told.
And hopefully we’re in a place that doesn’t necessarily have to be about the character of a character. It can be coincidental.
Yes! Yeah, I mean, everyone sees themselves differently. For Dani, I don’t think her weirdness is any deciding factor. This won’t apply to every character; Some characters really relate to their weirdness and queer community in a defining way. It just depends on the character.
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