Oliver Jackson-Cohen on Building His Own ‘Bly Manor’ Villain and Those ‘Hill House’ Comparisons

From ELLE

Spoilers for The Haunting of Bly Manor episode 7, “The Two Faces, Part Two,” below.

The Haunting of Bly Manor has no shortage of ghosts, apparitions and otherworldly villains, most of them working both as literal threats and metaphorical representations of guilt, grief, and denial. But the most memorable and complex of all the baddies haunting Bly Manor is Peter Quint, a suave Glaswegian valet who’s hiding a whole host of dark secrets behind his rakish smile.

After briefly appearing as a frightening specter haunting the manor, Quint is introduced in episode 3, “The Two Faces, Part One,” as a fantasy of an urbane 1980s man, shopping for tailored menswear and premium whiskey in west London to the sounds of Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love.” Even as the fantasy is undercut with the revelation that the luxury goods are for his boss, Henry Wingrave (Henry Thomas), Peter still retains an air of effortless confidence. That easy surface charm belies a dark, singleminded determination to get ahead at all costs—and to escape his own past, no matter who he takes down in the process. That charm also enthralls Wingrave’s newly hired au pair, Rebecca Jessel (Tahirah Sharif), whose tumultuous affair with Quint ends up destroying her.

Jackson-Cohen speaks to ELLE.com about Quint’s toxic relationship with Rebecca, the machismo he wears as a mask, and how he compares to The Haunting of Hill House‘s Luke Crain.

Luke really goes through the wringer in The Haunting of Hill House—heroin addiction, deep grief, a near-death experience—so you had a lot of heavy stuff to play. When you were approached to return for Bly Manor, was it important to you that Peter Quint be a very different kind of character?

On Hill House, Mike [Flanagan, series creator] used to always feel sorry for Luke and apologize [for] days when I had to be in floods of tears and all that. But it’s my job! It is my job, at the end of the day. So with this, Mike called me as he was standing outside the Netflix building, I think last February. Nothing had been announced, they were still talking about what they were going to do [with season 2]. He called me out of the blue and said “Hey, I’ve got this idea. It’s Turn of the Screw, do you want to be in it?” He said he wanted me and Victoria [Pedretti] to be in it. I went, “Yeah, of course, who do you want us to play?” And he went, “I don’t really know. I think Victoria will play the nanny and then we’ll figure it out with you.” Coming on that early was kind of incredible, because we got to develop Peter together.

What did that process look like?

Well, Mike initially said to me, “He’s the villain,” and my immediate response was, “Okay, but why?” In the book he is this kind of threatening specter, so how do we make him human?

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Victoria Pedretti talks about Bly Manor’s hidden meanings and comparisons to Hill House

Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

From Digital Spy

The Haunting of Bly Manor and Hill House spoilers follow.

Victoria Pedretti already had a few independent film credits to her name, but it was her turn as Eleanor “Nell” Crain (and the bone-chilling Bent-Neck Lady) in Netflix’s hit horror series The Haunting of Hill House that would prove to be her big break.

Not only was this acknowledged through award nominations, but Pedretti has continued to land starring roles in other popular shows – such as Netflix’s You – and on the big screen, taking on Mason family member Leslie Van Houten (better known as Lulu) in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

We recently had a phone interview with the star to talk about her most recent project: a return to the Haunting anthology with Bly Manor.

A loose adaptation of The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, The Haunting of Bly Manor is narratively completely different to Hill House. It did, however, bring back much of its main cast. Alongside Victoria Pedretti, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Henry Thomas and Kate Siegel are among the returning faces.

Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

“It was an extremely different experience to Hill House,” Victoria Pedretti says of filming, during an exclusive chat with Digital Spy. “Compared to the first season, where Mike Flanagan directed every single one of the episodes, this season he directed the first episode and then we had all of these wonderful directors come in to work with us for the rest of them.”

The leading lady, who plays Bly Manor’s new au pair Dani Clayton, notes how “incredible” and “unique” they all were, but also reveals how each new director changed the process.

“The director’s work differently… So yeah that definitely kept us on our toes. It was kind of unfortunate because it felt like every time we were finally really getting into the swing of things, and really getting to know each other and how each other worked, before moving on to another director.”

With the immense popularity of Hill House, Bly Manor brought along with it some fairly high expectations. As such, Victoria admits that she “certainly” felt a level of pressure in returning to the franchise.

“I really want the fans to feel satisfied,” she tells us. “Not only that but I want them to continue to feel challenged and excited as they were in the first season. The first season took many risks I think, within the genre of horror, and that’s part of what intrigued so many people. So to continue to surprise people as well was something I had a lot of thoughts about.”

As demanding roles go, we imagined that working on a horror, where frame after frame requires nervous or tense energy, would have been somewhat exhausting.

“It was,” Victoria admits. “But I don’t think I fully realised how exhausting it was at the time – adrenaline is a really powerful thing that keeps you going.”

Telling us how she

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