Victoria Pedretti on the lessons she’s learned from Netflix’s YOU
Anaïs & Dax/Apostrophe
Dianne Garcia/The Only Agency
‘It’s just so fun to delve into the hypocrisy of these two people. When they’re fighting and pointing fingers at each other, I think the comedy is so thick. I’m really excited for people to see it,’ says actress Victoria Pedretti. She is reprising her role as the ever-complex and the ever-cold-blooded Love Quinn, who has moved to the very suburban and Stepford-Esque Madre Linda community in the long-awaited new season of Netflix hit series YOU.
Victoria, who’s also known for her brilliantly chilling performances in The Haunting of Hill House, The Haunting of Bly Manor, Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, laughs when I say that there’s no pressure to remember our conversation last year. To my surprise, she does. ‘We spoke on Zoom, and we were also able to see each other the last time we talked!’ she proclaims just before I admit that I was the person that spoiled the ending of Nicole Kidman’s movie The Others. ‘I still need to watch it, and yes, don’t spoil the ending now,’ she laughs warmly on the phone.
This room-filling laughter is not one of those emotional traits that is common to the fan-beloved character that she was buzzing to play once again. Nonetheless, bringing Love Quinn back to life was a truly fulfilling moment in her very bright career. No surprise, as Victoria’s truly giving an emotionally charged performance, brilliantly conveying the emotional range of the complex, deeply troubled and murderous character.
‘Love has certainly transformed substantially,’ says Pedretti pensively during our conversation, adding that she loved being a part of the incredibly talented team that created the show where new obsessions lie ahead and more blood will be shed. About that. Fair warning to you, our dear readers. Spoilers lie ahead, so read our chitter-chatter with caution.
I’ve just realized that there’s a question that I’ve never asked anyone but always wanted to. How do you feel before going into interviews? Does it feel similar to an audition?
It’s much worse because nobody is giving you any lines. Part of what I like about my job. (laughing)
Sometimes interviews are just so spontaneous. In that respect, it’s like an audition. There’s a magic to it. Somebody could ask me a question one day, and it could spark something that some people might think is interesting, and then somebody could ask the same question the next day, and I would have nothing interesting to offer. That in itself is already interesting.
Since we spoke this time last year, we’ve all been through more or less tumultuous experiences. I don’t know about yourself, but I think that all my anxieties and insecurities got out and made me realize that I wasn’t taking enough good care of myself, which immensely affected my well-being. When was the last time you had some quality me-time?
I have to do that pretty regularly. On a small scale. I often feel that I need to take a step back and this happens to most people with ADD. I have a limited attention span and there’s no point in continuing to push it when it’s out. Oh my god. When I think about being a child and sitting in front of a computer while kind of bullying myself into keep going… Even though I didn’t have it in me. I think it’s much more useful, for people with minds like mine, to take a step away, busy themselves with something else so that they can come back with more energy. It’s really essential for me to be productive at all, to begin with. (laughing)
I will jump into the centerpiece of our conversation, which is the new season of YOU shortly, but before that, and speaking of ways to relax one’s mind, one of my ways is cooking. Your character, Love, is sort of a kitchen goddess. Do you like to cook or bake?
I love to cook! I think I’m a very instinctual cook. I love concocting recipes, but I don’t get the same joy out of baking because it is so exact. I much more like not to use any measurements. But I do love to be in the kitchen. And to feed people. That is something I do have in common with Love. One of my friends was watching the show recently, and she said that the way I move through the kitchen as Love is the same way I move through the kitchen in the real world. I think that’s pretty true.
Let’s talk about YOU. What. A. Season. How would you introduce it to our readers who are yet to see it?
Let’s see. Well, I guess the primary focus is a newly married couple with a newborn. I guess it’s irrelevant that they are murderers. They are forced to move to this suburbia environment. This is not a great wrap-up. Two people who are also murderers are forced by their circumstances to change in ways that allow them to basically stay the same. (laughing)
What can go wrong with that?
Yes! And trouble ensues. Nothing bad happens, and they live happily ever after.
Or murderously ever after. It’s so good, and I can’t wait for everyone to see it.
I’m so glad you liked it!
“I think Love starts to associate her value with her ability to conform and her sex appeal. And these things do not contribute much to her life and are ultimately subjective. It’s all a matter of taste, so why submit to somebody else’s ideas of those things instead of trying to come up with your style, your sex appeal or your ideas about mothering? But I don’t know. I think she’s doing her best. I respect her choice in that way.”
The last time we spoke, I did say that it’d be amazing to hear the story from Love’s perspective. And we finally get to hear her inner monologue(s). There’s a flashback scene where she’s watching Joe (played by Penn Badgley) in the supermarket and saying something along the lines of and then I saw You, which indicates that Love always had a secret agenda. It must’ve been exciting to unwrap all these layers and traits that you didn’t know about your character.
I did not know everything. But when you look back at Love’s behavior, you can see that she is not a person who would casually help somebody, show up at their house and start tending to their wounds just out of the generosity of her own heart. Let’s be real now. (laughing) You have to play it as cool as possible, so I have to play Penn’s game of the ever-charming, not intimidating individual. I think I learned a lot about that from watching him which was fascinating.
The confrontation between you and Penn’s character is one of the main drives of the new season. Knowing that you both and the show itself have a huge fanbase, I wouldn’t be surprised if there’d be camp Joe and camp Love. Was it easy to create that fictionally hostile mood on set?
It was so easy. He’s just a pain! (laughing)
Is he? (laughing)
Noooo. It’s just so fun to delve into the hypocrisy of these two people. When they’re fighting and pointing fingers at each other, I think the comedy is so thick. I’m excited for people to see it. It was thrilling to read and see so many twists and turns, think about the audience and the fanbase. The last season received an enormous response. It’s exciting to know that there are large groups of people waiting for the episodes to come out. I know how much work and love went into creating them. We want to entertain. We want people to be excited and have fun while watching it, given the circumstances that we’ve all been living in. I hope the audience will love it.
I think you’ve conveyed the emotional scale of your character’s inner-workings so beautifully. We’ve had those funny, comedic Love moments. We’ve had those don’t mess up with Love, or she’ll come after you with an axe moments. We’ve also had those sweet family moments when you think for a moment that, perhaps, Joe and Love will live happily murderously ever after. Was there a particular scene that you’re still thinking about as, oh boy, I was waiting for this scene the whole 2nd season?
I had a lot of fun in the scenes with Dylan Arnold, who plays Theo. I found it interesting to be able to experience Love in a different kind of light. At a certain point during this season, she stopped being authentic with Joe. She actually wasn’t honest with anybody. But I found in those scenes that she’s most herself and has let her guard down.
It was also interesting watching her trying to take care of a young man who’s dealing with a lot of things that she has dealt with in her life. There were a lot of tender, fun moments. We don’t see her truly experiencing a lot of joy this season. When I think about that scene on the scooter, I think about the gentler, happier version of her that is there, and she can access it. That’s the life I wish for her that she could have that joy all the time. That was kind of sweet to experience. I guess, her feeling pretty safe with somebody. I mean, she only feels safe around somebody that she can take advantage of and manipulate, but you know that’s Love. (smiling)
I think the very last episode of the show had the title What is Love. I had that Haddaway song playing in my head for a while.
They did great with episode names!
One of my favorite parts about this season is that it dissects one thing that we’re all most often seeking – belongingness. Also, asking questions as do I need to alter myself to fit into the world, community and is it worth molding yourself into something that you’re not? Love goes through all of that transformation, leaving her authentic self behind. I think it’s such an important theme that is perhaps sometimes overlooked.
I’m glad that you’ve appreciated and enjoyed that storyline. I liked that as well because I’ve seen it so much. I’ve seen it since I was a little girl with everybody who was, let’s say, buying UGG boots, and that’s what the cool kids wore. If you didn’t have them, it was like you were trying to be different. Even now, I have an Android, and I get harassed about it.
“We can say that somebody is perfect whilst still understanding their flaws. But when we strip someone else of their humanity, we also strip ourselves of it at the same time. I think that’s very dangerous. Simultaneously, it’s taught me a lot about the importance of preserving oneself for the sake of the relationship. Also, that the intoxicating idea of being two people obsessed with each other is shallow. It’s not something that anyone deserves.”
Hey, look at us, Android people! It’s strange. Who are you operating on behalf of—Apple? Are they paying you for this? (laughing) I think it’s such a huge thing. Even beyond the clothing. Even when it comes to your face, the way you do your makeup as if you need certain kinds of features or a certain kind of body to be beautiful. Or to be valuable.
I think Love starts to associate her value with her ability to conform and her sex appeal. And these things do not contribute much to her life and are ultimately subjective. It’s all a matter of taste, so why submit to somebody else’s ideas of those things instead of trying to come up with your style, your sex appeal or your ideas about mothering? But I don’t know. I think she’s doing her best. I respect her choice in that way. Love is isolated out there. She has a horrible relationship with her mother. Her husband is not present. She’s trying to make friends. She’s trying not to lose her mind. She’s trying to raise her child. I think of all the choices she makes, conforming and trying to make friends isn’t the worst of what she does right? (laughing) At least when she’s doing that, she’s not murdering people.
Let’s talk about the ending. What were your initial thoughts when reading the script?
I mean, I could not have imagined that that’d be the way you know. It did not occur to me that it would be poison or a massive showdown around the dinner table. I was pretty shocked, but we love the shock factor here at YOU. (laughing)
While there’s no body found, there’s no crime. I was processing what I’ve seen in the new season and, you know, perhaps, this is not the end of Love.
Look, I am into it! I had a good time working on this last season. If they want me back, I’ll come back. I love all of the people involved in this production.
If you want me to start a petition to bring Love back, count me in.
That’s okay. I want the writers to have everything they want. It was crazy to see Love come to all these realizations about what her life could be seconds before she dies. To me, it’s pretty tragic.
Reflecting on this role, what did it teach you, and perhaps what you have taught your character, Love?
I think it speaks to the importance of taking care of oneself. Love becomes this dream girl for so many people because of the way she cares for others. But she’s so resentful of the world, isn’t she? She’s resentful of her mother and her partners and everybody she gives to because she doesn’t do enough for herself. I think it emphasizes that, as well as these ideas about obsession. We immediately romanticize obsessing over people. I was thinking a lot about it recently and how that cuts us off from the humanity of whoever we’re obsessed with. We can’t be seeing someone fully if we think about them as perfect, right?
Of course, there are different versions of perfect. We can say that somebody is perfect whilst still understanding their flaws. But when we strip someone else of their humanity, we also strip ourselves of it at the same time. I think that’s very dangerous. Simultaneously, it’s taught me a lot about the importance of preserving oneself for the sake of the relationship. Also, that the intoxicating idea of being two people obsessed with each other is shallow. It’s not something that anyone deserves. Maybe somebody else will get that out of the show too. I don’t know. (laughing)
“I think it swings. Everything can feel very weighty on one day, and the next day it can be like oh, what does it matter. I’m always curious about what will come next. I’ve chosen a career that allows me to have a diversity of experiences. I want that. I feel like I narrow in on an idea of what I want to do next, and then something pops up, and I’m like, oh never mind, of course, it’s that. I try to stay open, and I think that stops it from being so daunting. It’s just allowing life to happen to you and not taking it all too seriously.”
Marty Harper/The Wall Group
Emily Cheng/The Wall Group
The last time we spoke, you were so incredibly humble. I think you said that you didn’t choose any of the roles, but they were all granted to you. I read that you’ll be playing The Lovely Bones author Alice Sebold in the film adaptation of her 1999 memoir, Lucky. Can you tell us more about this project?
I, unfortunately, have no idea how to talk about this project. I should probably find out. (laughing)
I’m very excited about all the things coming up, and I hope that people will enjoy it.
Speaking of excitement, you’ve recently worked with Kacey Musgraves.
I knoooow, can you believe it? She’s so amazing!
Did her people approach your people as often people say?
She reached out to me. I said anything I can do to get a sneak peek of the album. I can work with an artist who I respect, and I did also really love her vision. Can you imagine, that’s the dream! The dream! I love music and the power it has, and I’m so amazed by musicians. It was very cool to understand that she has an appreciation for what I do as well. That was actually crazy. If I can entertain her while she’s making music for the rest of us, I feel that I’m contributing. (laughing)
Do you sing? You could be her warm-up act on a tour!
What would I do? A monologue? Shakespeare! (laughing)
Are you still feeling daunted by the idea of choosing what comes next?
I think it swings. Everything can feel very weighty on one day, and the next day it can be like oh, what does it matter. I’m always curious about what will come next. I’ve chosen a career that allows me to have a diversity of experiences. I want that. I feel like I narrow in on an idea of what I want to do next, and then something pops up, and I’m like, oh never mind, of course, it’s that. I try to stay open, and I think that stops it from being so daunting. It’s just allowing life to happen to you and not taking it all too seriously.
I’m lucky to have so many incredible opportunities. Now that I had some people reach out to me that I’m so excited to work with, I try to have a little bit of faith that the work will… I don’t know. I was surprised by the people. I had somebody reach out to me about a comedy. I was like, you think I can do a comedy? Cause I’m doing all these tragic things… But they recognized something, and it excites me because I really want to do it. I think I’m just learning to have faith in the process.
YOU is streaming now on Netflix. Watch the Season 3 trailer below: