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


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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The Real House That Inspired Bly Manor

The Haunting of Bly Manor is Netflix’s latest hit show, currently sitting at the top of the streaming service’s top 10. The show, a sequel of The Haunting of Hill House, is inspired by Henry James’ novel The Turn of the Screw and a number of other stories from the Anglophile American author.

a castle like building in a city: Bly Manor in 'The Haunting of Bly Manor' is not a real house – but it is inspired by one.

© Netflix
Bly Manor in ‘The Haunting of Bly Manor’ is not a real house – but it is inspired by one.

In the show, Victoria Pedretti plays Dani Clayton, an American woman who becomes the governess for children Miles (Benjamin Eva Ainsworth) and Flora (Amelie Bea Smith, who parents may be surprised to know is also the voice of Peppa Pig). She lives in with these two children in Bly Manor, a sprawling house infested with ghosts in the countryside in Essex in the United Kingdom.

However, Bly Manor is very much a piece of TV magic. Though set in England, the Netflix series was actually filmed nearly 5,000 miles away—not in Britain but in British Columbia, Canada (Vancouver to be precise).

Sets for the house were built at the Bridge Studios in Burnaby, Canada. A number of the exteriors, in fact, are not even real buildings but CGI. The chapel, for example, consisted of an interior set, with the exterior being computer generated. The Bly Manor exterior, also does not seem to be a real house, with Refinery 29 noting it looks similar to Thornewood Castle near Seattle, where the Stephen King miniseries Rose Red was once filmed.

The Haunting of Bly Manor | Official Trailer



Thornewood Castle, however, is not the only real house that inspired The Haunting of Bly Manor and The Turn of The Screw before it.

In 1897, a year before the publication of that classic novella, James headed to Lamb House, an 18th-century mansion that bears a striking resemblance to the house in Bly where the story he wrote at Lamb House was set.

In fact, it seems that he only vaguely changed the details of the place he was writing: While Turn of the Screw takes place in Bly, Essex, Lamb House is situated in Rye, East Sussex.

Lamb House is still available for literature fans to visit. The Grade II* listed house has been opened to the public by the National Trust, where it is open as a writer’s house museum for both James and the author E.F. Benson, who wrote the Mapp and Lucia novels.

The house was given to the National Trust in 1950 by James’ nephew’s widow, and on display there are a number of the writer’s possessions. Also open is the walled garden James had designed—a garden far more welcoming than the desolated one at Bly.

The Haunting of Bly Manor is streaming now on Netflix.

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Police officer hit by car at Manor House stabbing scene

Manor Park

image copyrightJulian Osley

image captionThe officer was responding to reports of a stabbing outside Manor House station when he was hit by a car

Police are hunting for the driver of a car that hit an officer on duty at the scene of a stabbing in north London.

The officer was responding to reports of a stabbing outside Manor House tube station in Finsbury Park when he was struck by the car at about 02:30 BST.

He was not injured but was treated by paramedics for shock, the Met Police said.

Inquiries to locate the driver are ongoing and no arrests have yet been made, the forced added.

Police were called at 01:55 to reports of a stabbing at the junction of Green Lanes and Seven Sisters Road.

A 28-year-old man was taken to hospital with a stab injury.

His condition is not life-threatening and no arrest have been made, police said.

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