Victoria Pedretti is one to watch. But you already know that if you tuned in to Netflix’s critically acclaimed series The Haunting of Hill House, on which she played a misunderstood baby sister. Pedretti, whose performance in that role was nothing short of moving, will return to the series next year for a second season, titled The Haunting of Bly Manor. Netflix has been quite cagey on details but we do know that season two will draw from Henry James’s deeply creepy novella, The Turn of the Screw. Pedretti and some others from season one will return as completely different characters, a casting strategy that brings to mind American Horror Story.
But before crossing the threshold of that haunted manor, Pedretti will take on another Netflix thriller, You, an adaptation of the Caroline Kepnes book series of the same name about a bookish stalker named Joe Goldberg (played by Penn Badgley).
On the second season, Pedretti plays Love Quinn, the object of Joe’s obsession. They meet at a health food store akin to Erewhon in Los Angeles, after Joe has left New York for the West Coast, a place for which he is obviously not suited. Love’s twin brother, Forty (someone’s parents were big tennis fans, it would appear) is a troubled addict who runs the books section of the shop and claims to be a screenwriter.
Like Pedretti’s Hill House character, Love is a grieving young woman whose twin brother is an addict. But according to the actress, that’s where the similarities end. “They do not internalize any of these experiences in the same way,” she said. Of the two, Love is far more confident and unafraid to speak her mind. “She’s very self possessed and I really like that,” Pedretti said, “especially after playing somebody who strained a lot trying to figure out who she was in the world.”
The 24-year-old actress grew up in and around Philadelphia and started acting as a teen in school performances. “I went to a public high school that didn’t really have a theater program,” she said. “We had a drama club but it was barely operating. In my year, I was one of, like, four students in the club.”
It wasn’t until she went to Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama that she began to truly study the craft. She booked Hill House shortly after graduating in 2017 and has been working steadily ever since, including a small part as a hippie Manson family member named Lulu in Quentin Tarantino‘s Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood.
You, it turns out, was on her radar even before she received her diploma. “One of the first auditions I ever had was for the first season for this show,” she said. “It was the first callback I ever had for a show. I was still in college and visiting Los Angeles for school because we had a showcase. It came out on Lifetime and then when it moved to Netflix I couldn’t stop watching it. It’s really captivating.”
Particularly captivating, according to the show’s many vocal fans, is Badgley’s charming yet murderous character. “It is a story that could only have him as a protagonist,” Pedretti said. “The most seemingly nice guy, you know? The person who seems to mean no harm. But he is exactly symbolic of the people in the world who often cause the most harm.”
The relationship between Joe and Love is central to the second season. Joe claims to be rehabilitating himself after the mishaps (to put it very, very lightly) between him and his girlfriend Beck in season one. He finds himself attracted to Love for all of the ways she’s different from his ex. “She’s way less of a follower than Beck was. I think he didn’t like the fact that she—I mean, fuck what he thinks, but he thought she was being bulldozed by these people who didn’t really understand her.”
Joe commits some pretty heinous crimes: stalking, invasion of privacy, even murder. On the other hand, he also takes care of people, especially the vulnerable. It’s that dichotomy that makes him so captivating. “He encompasses so many different things,” Pedretti said. “He’s simultaneously this egomaniac psychopath and a sensitive, caring, affectionate partner.”
In other words, a complicated character—which is just the sort of challenge Pedretti hopes to tackle in the future. “I want to keep learning,” she said. “I’ve only been doing this a few years.”