Like You’s Love Quinn, Victoria Pedretti isn’t overly concerned with niceties. We speak on the phone during a break in her shooting schedule — she’s currently filming The Haunting of Hill House’s second installment, The Haunting of Bly Manor — and judging by her no-nonsense response to me asking whether there’s anything she can say about You’s third season (“No.”), it appears that the excitement of the show’s press tour has worn off. That being said, Pedretti has a right to be on-guard.
Two years ago, the now-24-year-old was a virtual unknown, Hill House her first major project since graduating from Carnegie Mellon in 2017. Today, she’s not only a working actress, but the subject of an effusive and devoted fan base — the kind that tweets things like “I’d risk it all for Victoria Pedretti” and labels her a “bisexual icon” because she told a magazine her first celebrity crushes were Zorro’s Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Though certain personalities might find that brand of fandom exhilarating, addictive even, Pedretti wants no part of it. And the articles and tweets that say she looks like Hilary Duff? She’d like to opt out of those as well (“I don't want that”). Of course, being an actor and being famous aren’t mutually exclusive. Such visibility can be overwhelming, and it bodes well for Pedretti’s career that she knows exactly how she wants to be seen — or, rather, not seen.
She doesn’t want to be conflated with her characters — wealthy serial killer Love (Pedretti knows she’s your “ride or die” and does not condone it), haunted Crain sibling Nell, or Manson cult-devotee Leslie “Lulu” Van Houten. But as for presenting her fans with a look at who she is beyond her profession … Well, she’s not quite here for that either — in fact, she wants the public to “know less” about her.
Despite Pedretti’s reluctance to share herself with the masses, the answers she gives me do paint a vivid image of the kind of person she is — one who isn’t worried about people-pleasing, who trusts herself and her skills, and is willing to fight against norms. (Also, she loves her yellow rain boots and cooking — read: eating — pasta.)
Though the manner in which she comes across on the phone is that of a more seasoned public figure, the kind who’s spent decades trailed by paparazzi and selfie-snapping fans, I imagine that an aggressive introduction to fame would have a similar effect on anyone’s psyche. You’s press tour has been long, and the attention that comes with it jarring. And, as I’m sure Pedretti’s come to realize, her tenure in the spotlight has only just begun.
Read on below as Pedretti sounds off on her newfound fame, her hopes (or lack thereof) for Love in You’s third season, and those pesky comparisons to other women in Hollywood.
InStyle: Between You, The Haunting of Hill House, and Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, you're in some of the past year's darkest projects. Do you find that you gravitate toward heavier material?
Victoria Pedretti: I'm kind of just taking the opportunities that come up. I think life is dark, so I appreciate material that represents that. But it's also light. It's kind of a weird combination of things most of the time. I think the truth exists in the middle. I don't like things that kind of trivialize experiences in life, and over-dramatize them too, too much. The opportunities I've been offered I think kind of toe that line and allow us to enjoy something that reflects our lives a bit more.
Watching You has really made me more on guard around strangers, I've noticed. Has your own experience filming the season changed the way you see the world at all?
Yeah. I mean, I think that the amount of attention that I get now changes my perspective on the world. My world is different, the way people interact with me is different since I've been on the show. So that certainly has given me a different understanding of the world and people and how we operate. But I don't like that the show makes people more scared of others, or the world. I don't think it should be meant to scare people in that way.
Going off of that, there are a lot of true crime stories and fictional narratives out there right now that make the viewers either understand or attempt to empathize with the murderers. Do you think that's dangerous at all?
No, I don't think that working your empathy muscle is a bad thing, ever. No. I mean, I think the more we can understand our enemies or the people who don't intend good for us, the more we can protect ourselves from them.
The show was just renewed for season three. What's your hope for Love in the coming season?
I don't really have any feelings about it one way or the other. I'm excited to have the opportunity to keep the show going and keep the story going, and continue on Love's journey, but I don't necessarily have any opinions of how it should go. I'm not a writer on the show, so it's not up to me. I don't want to have any expectations.
Love and Nell from Haunting of Hill House have a lot in common. They're both twins with brothers who had drug problems and whose husbands died young. Considering those parallels, did you find that Nell influenced your portrayal of Love at all?
I mean, in the way that it taught me new things about the way I work. I learned a lot bringing [Nell] to life, just because it was my first job. But no, I don't take pieces of one character to help put together another one. They're very different people. They just had similar experiences. Obviously your experiences don't define who you are. I mean, they definitely inform how you see the world and shit like that, but it's not what makes a person. If that was true, then everybody would respond to things the same way, and they don't.
Love is walking a pretty slippery slope when it comes to her rationale for murder. She seems to believe that she has the moral high ground if she's protecting someone she loves. How did you tap into that mindset?
Yeah. I mean, entitlement is a really great place to exist in. It's a way easier response to things than dealing with the consequences. Just making yourself out to be a victim is a much easier, simpler path. So yeah, I think we're all capable of doing it, I think we all do it. So, yeah. I think it's a lot, it's an easy thing to understand.
But yeah, no, it's f—king nuts. She's f—king crazy. She also shows up at [Joe Goldberg’s] house. She does a lot of things that I would never do, because it's inappropriate and invasive. But she qualifies it, and I see people on the internet who think it's f—king great, and they would love to date Love, and they think she's a real ride or die. And it's just like, what the f—k is that? She's willing to do anything for somebody else? That's not somebody who I would want to be with.
Do you think that she has any guilt?
No. Yeah. I don't know. Maybe. But I don't think she sits with it.
Yeah. Definitely. Do you think that mental health services could have been useful for Love and Joe, or do you think they're just sociopaths?
Yeah, I think mental health services would be good for everybody. In the show, out of the show, everyone in general.
So a big part of celebrity these days is personal. Whether that's sharing on social media or discussing your relationships. I noticed on Twitter a lot of people have been praising you for saying that both Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones were your first celebrity crushes. How do you feel about that?
I know, isn't that f—king crazy?
How do you feel about that aspect of fame? Sharing yourself? And how are you planning to confront it moving forward with your career?
I don't feel like I'm interested in doing it. I don't like how people are trying to piece together a way of knowing me without knowing me as a person. Or the idea that people feel like they have a relationship with me or would want to marry me … Bullshit! You don't know me. I'm not perfect. And any idea that I am is misguided. None of us are perfect. We all have flaws. We're all, in some way, bad. And the fact that I say [Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones were my first celebrity crushes], why am I being praised for that? It says very little about me. It's just, it's a very normal, I think, thing. It's nothing extraordinary. And I don't like the fact that I'm being praised for it. Because I don't think that it's extraordinary.
That's interesting. So you've worked with so many celebrated actors already. Has anyone acted as a mentor of sorts to you?
Yeah, absolutely. I've been really lucky that people have cared about me and my growth enough ... I mean, that's the best thing out of this job, really — one of the best things. A lot of things are really great about it. But the fact that you get to meet people who you can learn from — that's the thing that is so enjoyable. I have a deep curiosity, and that is constantly fed by my work. And if it's not, I just try to keep doing it anyway and there's people who've been doing this a lot longer than me.
In some ways Penn [Badgley] became a bit of a mentor in some ways, to me. I don't know if he sees it that way. And Carla Gugino. She's really incredible. She's very busy and makes time to talk to me. I'm always looking for that kind of relationship. I feel like even people my own age, my friends often have so, so much to teach me. And people even younger than me.
Once Upon A Time In Hollywood was your first feature film, right? That's huge. Were you nervous walking onto a set like that with all these big names in the industry?
I mean, I'm nervous whenever I work. But no, not particularly. I try not to make myself small or look for other people's approval too much. I was there because I was hired to work, and I did my job.
Right. So you don’t get starstruck, that doesn't affect you?
Not when I'm working. There's no time to be intimidated by people. That could compromise my work, and I'm not going to let that happen.
That's a great way of looking at it. There's been a lot of discussion recently about actors watching themselves on screen. What's your experience been like with that? Especially considering the nature of your projects. Do you find it difficult?
I'm comfortable watching myself on screen. I think that there's ... in theater, you get to see everything in two dimensions. But on film, everything's smushed together. So I like to be able to see that in order to reflect on the way in which things are being translated, what is actually being captured in the moment. Because you can't see everything with a camera. [With] You, we didn't have playback [where an actor can see their performance on on-set monitors during shooting]. So the entire time I wasn't able to watch myself until everything was cut and pasted together. And I don't like that. I think it kind of disempowers the actor, or their ability to see what they're doing.
So then we kind of are acting in this weird vacuum where we're just meant to trust everyone, but we're disempowered to have our own opinion about a performance.
So watching the show when it aired, were you surprised by anything you saw in your performance?
Oh, yeah. Totally. I mean, they cut huge pieces out of it. That show is not necessarily how it exists on page.
Yeah. It definitely feels like it's being put together in post. And it's whatever. I mean, it works. it's just a different way of working.
Totally. So I have to ask, I've been seeing a lot of conversation online about how you look like Hilary Duff. How do you feel about that?
Again, this inference is a weird thing, that women always get from being children. I get so many [comparisons]. They're not only saying I look like Hilary Duff. They say I look like Kat Dennings, Jennifer Garner, Hilary Swank, Rachel McAdams ... And I've been getting all of these things since I was a kid, people have been telling me who I look like. And I think in a way to compliment me, or make me feel good about the fact that I look like somebody else who is acceptably beautiful in the world. But it's something we generally do far, far more with women. And I think it's worth reflecting on why we do that. Because I don't really look like any of these women. I'm just another white woman with larger lips [who’s] very fair. And that is the continuous thing. I don't look like these people any more than other people want to say they look like me. And it's just, why is that significant or important or matter at all? Except for your ability to put someone in a box and say, "Well, we've had one of these before. So let's have another one. You're going to serve this role that is being given to you." And it's like, no, I don't want that. Nobody should want that.
What did your childhood bedroom look like?
My childhood bedroom? It was a room with wallpaper and at the top of it ... I don't know. What is the question, exactly?
Were there any specific posters on the walls or anything?
I don't remember.
What's your favorite thing to cook?
Probably pasta. [That’s] my favorite thing to eat.
How would you describe your personal style?
Astrology, yes or no?
Eh. Sure, why not? I don't want to reject something that's important to people. I'm interested in it, but I wouldn't say it's a way to live.
What is your favorite item of clothing you own?
My yellow rain boots.
What's one book you could read over and over?
I'm not a big reader.
If you could only watch three movies for the rest of your life, which three would you choose?
Well, I hope that never happens. What qualities would you be looking for in three movies and you'd never get to watch anything else? Probably variety. But, any of these would get boring after a while. You don't want to re-watch the same thing over and over and over again. I don't want to reread the same book over and over and over again. I want to have new experiences. I don't want to live in that world. I'd probably kill myself. I don't know. I'd probably start reading.
What's one thing you want people to know about you?
I never paint my nails. I don't know. I'm actually brunette.
I want them to know less. I want people to know that I have no interest in them speculating about what they don't know.