There are a lot of scares in The Haunting of Hill House, but the person who gets to spend the most time literally haunting the rest of the cast is Victoria Pedretti.
**SPOILERS FOR EPISODES 1-8 OF The Haunting of Hill House AHEAD**
Victoria Pedretti plays Eleanor “Nell” Crain, the youngest member of the Crain family in The Haunting of Hill House, and by the end of Episode 1, the recently-deceased Nell is already haunting her siblings. After Episode 1, Pedretti plays the living Nell in flashbacks, but most of her appearances are as a specter or corpse. In fact, it’s revealed at the end of Episode 5 that the eerie “Bent-Neck Lady” that spooked Nell as a child (and throughout her life) was actually a vision of Nell’s eventual fate. The dead Nell was visiting herself to warn her younger, living self of what would happen.
Decider asked Pedretti if it was more fun or more challenging to play a ghost. “Yeah, that was really fun! I get to scare people,” Pedretti said. “It always has to come from somewhere. Like, the idea isn’t to scare, ultimately, it’s to try to say something, but it just comes out as ‘Agh!‘”
Pedretti brought up the scene at the end of Episode 1, “Steven Sees A Ghost,” where Nell appears in brother Steven’s (Michiel Huisman) apartment at the moment of her death. “Like, she’s trying to talk because she’s just like newly dead and still in this confused state. And that’s more of a ‘Ah! What is happening?’ You know? So that’s what I ended up doing with that. I guess you don’t have to do that. I found it made it make sense for me,” she said.
One of Nell’s most frightening jump scares happens in Episode 8, “Witness Marks.” While sisters Shirley (Elizabeth Reaser) and Theo (Kate Siegel) are arguing en route to Hill House, a rotted version of Nell’s body jumps out between them, causing both sisters to freak out. (Oh, and it literally made me scream out loud in my apartment over the weekend.)
“In the moment in the car, when I jump out and scare them, what’s in my mind is, ‘Shut the fuck up and get over this fight!’ It’s not about like, ‘Boo, boo!’ It came from a deeper place and a real need, so that’s why it’s so loud and like immediate,” Pedretti said.
As it turns out, Pedretti frightened herself shooting that particular scene. “I knew it was happening [and] I screamed — at myself!”