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Talking with Victoria Pedretti, TV's new horror queen

Victoria Pedretti attends the 2019 MTV Movie

 Victoria Pedretti attends the 2019 MTV Movie and TV Awards on June 15, 2019 in Santa Monica, California.  Credit: Getty Images for MTV/Emma McIntyre

Victoria Pedretti doesn’t scare quite so easily anymore. At least, not since she’s become TV’s favorite new horror queen, a sort of “Jamie Lee Curtis, millennial edition.”

Fans of the acclaimed Netflix series “The Haunting of Hill House” know Pedretti from her breakout performance as the warm and sympathetic twin Nell Crain. She nabbed that role just seconds after graduating from Carnegie Mellon University in 2017, and her success has led to two more roles: She returns to that series for its second season (called “The Haunting of Bly Manor,” an all-new spookfest out next year in which she plays a completely different character); and she stars in the second season of “You,” another Netflix hit, playing the object of Penn Badgley’s affection. Unfortunately, he’s a sweet but obsessive serial killer and in the show’s first season last year, well, things didn’t work out so well for his lady friend.

Pedretti, 24, who grew up in and around Philadelphia, also recently appeared as a murderous Manson hippie in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” She recently spoke by phone with Newsday contributor Joseph V. Amodio from Vancouver, on a break from shooting “Bly Manor.”

In the first season of “You,” Penn Badgley plays Joe Goldberg, who falls for a young writer. In season two, he’s drawn to your character, Love Quinn, an aspiring chef. He seems to really go for creative types.

Seemingly. He’s definitely drawn to women who seem to have their own goals and ambitions. Which…is a good quality, I guess.

Sure, aside from the pesky psychopath thing.

Right.

How are your own skills in the kitchen? Are you much of a chef?


Definitely. I love to cook. I spent a lot of time in high school cooking instead of doing my homework.

What’s your go-to dish?

I think pasta tends to warm people’s hearts, you know? I put a lot of love into making pasta. But I like to try new things, too.

You’re getting to be an old pro when it comes to horror stories and thrillers. Do you like to watch those kinds of tales?

Not really. Most of my life I’ve avoided that. I find life scary enough. I’m an actor. (She laughs.) I’m already really sensitive, I’ve gotta admit.

I’m partial to the classics, like “The Shining” and “Poltergeist.” And I have a special place in my heart for “The Amityville Horror” because my grandparents actually lived in Amityville.

Oh, wow! That’s so cool. So much of my experience with horror growing up was with kids trying to get everybody to go to the basement to watch a movie to see who could handle it the most.

Like a slasher pic?

Yeah. Those movies are all jump-scares…They mean a lot to some people but it’s never been my cup of tea. But I’m figuring it out. I’ve begun to see how horror isn’t so different from a lot of the things you experience in a regular drama. And I’m appreciating the fact that these horror stories we tell relate to the folklore with which we’ve explained the world for so long. Monsters and ghosts and ghouls—societies have always been wrestling with the idea of death and what it means to die. So…I’ve been watching a lot of horror, actually, to see how it’s constructed.

What was it like working with “Gossip Girl” heartthrob Penn Badgley?

OH MY GOD! I miss him. He’s the most lovely, creative, exuberant, intelligent man. He’s really a great person to work with. A great collaborator and friend. I’m so excited for everybody to see the amazing work he’s done this season.

Did he sort of welcome you to “You?”

Honestly, he was kind of on his lonesome, being one of the only people left from the first season. We shot in an entirely different place with an entirely different crew. And almost the entire cast was different. I feel a lot like him now on this second season of “Haunting,” being one of the only people from the first season. It’s interesting to go into another season of a show with such a different…vibe. There’s a lot of readjusting to do.

How will you spend the holidays?

I’m going back to New York. I’m homesick. I miss family and friends.

You live in New York now?

Yeah. I’m an East Coaster. The Northeast is where it’s at.

What holiday tradition are you looking forward to the most?

My dad’s seven-layer cookies.

Seven layers?

Yeah. It’s just…everything sweet and buttery and delicious. The seven-layer cookie — it’s soooo good. Especially with coffee.

Well, I hope he’s getting that dough ready right now.

He’s the only one who can do it, nobody else can.

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