Spoilers ahead for You season two.
A year after Victoria Pedretti’s breakout performance in The Haunting of Hill House, the 24-year-old actress has a buzzy leading role in the second season of You, playing our favorite stalking murderer’s new obsession. When Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) moves to Los Angeles and meets Love Quinn (Pedretti), he builds a fantasy around her identities as an aspiring chef, compulsive baker, loyal twin sister, and young widow. But by the season’s end, Joe’s vision of his ideal woman is shattered when he learns she has a lot more in common with him than he ever imagined.
On a break from filming The Haunting of Bly Manor, the follow-up season to Hill House, Pedretti spoke to Vulture about playing a character outside Joe’s gaze, how she reacted when she found out about Love’s big secret, and what’s in store for the killer couple.
Before getting cast in You, were you a fan of the show or the books?
Before I met with Greg [Berlanti] and Sera [Gamble] about the show, I decided to watch the first season on Lifetime, and I couldn’t stop watching it. I was so scared, but also entranced, because it’s funny and tragic and disgusting at times. It was a combination of things I’m not accustomed to experiencing when watching television, really. After that, I was really excited to be able to contribute in any way. When I heard about this character, I thought she sounded pretty dope and certainly very different from Beck.
Did you know Love’s complete arc when you started?
There was a suspicious air about her, but I didn’t know how everything played out. They told me their au pair had died, but it hadn’t been worked out exactly whether Love did it, or [her brother] Forty did it and she covered it up. So much changed over the course of the season before it became what it is, and even in the end, things changed.
Since you didn’t know her whole story, how did you approach the role?
I think her core qualities are still present when she’s murdering people, in the same way Joe’s core qualities are still there when he’s murdering people. He has this dialogue in his brain that he’s being led to these things out of a great need to protect others. There’s no actual evidence of that. In the case of Love, there really is. She is protecting Joe. If [Joe’s ex-girlfriend] Candace and [his neighbor] Delilah had gotten out, Joe would have gotten got. She shows up for him in that moment. Obviously, it’s a crazy thing to happen. In her great efforts to protect the ones she loves, she’s willing to do anything, even if that means ending somebody else’s life.
We’re constantly hearing Joe’s thoughts and seeing Love and others through his gaze. When you’re performing, do you keep in mind how Joe sees her and perform accordingly, or do you approach Love separately from Joe’s point of view?
I don’t think I have to consider his opinion at all. [Laughs.] That’s what’s so scary about the show. I hope that when you go back, you can see that Love’s always been crazy. She’s obsessive about baking. She’s an intense individual. She’s not meek. But we can see what we want to see. A lot of qualities he sees are there. It’s incredible how he can shape the way we see the individual. But even in the first season, we had our own opinions about Beck outside of what he was telling us, even if it was for stupid reasons like, “She’s not good enough for you! She’s just doing whatever her friends want.” I don’t pay any mind to shaping my performance on his perspective. I think he’s a delusional individual, and his perspective is incredibly warped and very far away from reality. I can’t trust him to do my work for me.
Should Joe have recognized the darkness in Love earlier, or is he so blinded by his fantasy that he can’t see it?
It’s definitely that. She says it at the end of the season: “I was directly in front of you this entire time, and you chose not to see me.” I think he’s got a limited capacity to truly connect with people because of his inability to really be vulnerable. If he wants to create these entire dialogues in his head about their behavior that aren’t actually related to their behavior, how on earth can we expect him to notice that somebody is capable of killing somebody?
In the first season, some viewers were critical of Beck because they felt she should have been more careful. But we’re not judgmental of Love in that way. What’s the difference?
One of them is blonde and one of them is a brunette — I was joking. I feel like the conversations are like, “Oh my God, there are all these boring white girls. They have different hair colors, so they’re different.” And then some people are like, “No, their differences are far beyond the way they look.”
Even Candace can be brought into this conversation, because people see her getting in the way of Joe. We want our protagonist to accomplish something and move forward, so it becomes frustrating and annoying, even though she’s trying to fight for justice against a murderer. She’s taken it upon herself to fight, to make sure this doesn’t happen to anybody else, you know? So brave. And yet we see her as annoying.
Beck is just a young woman trying to figure her shit out. She makes it relatively clear what her expectations are, and yet we criticize her for being self-conscious. I think Love’s got a little bit more of a chance against getting picked apart — [laughs] — because she just doesn’t give a shit what other people think. It feels emblematic of a lot of the fuckery surrounding media — the way in which we portray women, the way in which we see women, the way in which we talk about women.
Knowing who she is now, it’s interesting to look back and see how she responded when she learned that he’s been lying the entire time. How do you think breaking up with him fits into who she turns out to be?
She already thinks her life is quite a mess, so she didn’t want to introduce more mess. She said that from the beginning: Nothing’s gonna compromise her ability to take care of her brother, so she can’t really introduce something so complicated as an individual who would lie about his entire identity to her. I thought that was an extremely logical thing to do. Is it what she wanted to do? No. We lose a bit of our grip on reality and logic when we are in love. It also makes sense to me that she would try to rationalize and figure out how to be back with him as quickly as possible.
Then they get back together, but Joe falls out of love immediately when he learns she’s a killer too. Bastard!
She becomes this obligation, and it’s really sad. But it’s true to the character. It was the only way it could happen.
What is your hope for Love and Joe going forward?
I hope that Love gets to do her thing. She has a really strong vision for her future, and I hope she keeps pursuing it. Do I think that that’s necessarily a smart decision? She probably shouldn’t be with a guy she knows is a murderer, but you can’t stop Love. She’s gonna do what she wants.