ELLE – Major spoilers for You season 3 ahead.
What happens when two murderers get married, have a baby, and start a new life in the suburbs? The third season of You on Netflix offers an answer beyond our imaginations, with couples’ therapy and dead bodies; snooty neighbors and a secret glass cage; changing diapers and hiding evidence. Happily ever after it is not.
Victoria Pedretti, who stars as Love Quinn opposite Penn Badgley’s Joe Goldberg, knows to expect the unexpected at this point. “I feel like I really don’t attach myself to thinking that I can predict what’s going to happen,” she tells ELLE.com, “And I kind of anticipate and expect to be surprised with the way in which things go down.”
As viewers, we can’t say we were as prepared. (Caution: spoilers!) We’re effectively shocked when Love kills her neighbor, Natalie (Michaela McManus), for seducing her husband; when she starts hooking up with college-aged Theo (Dylan Arnold); or when Joe starts a romance with the librarian, Marienne (Tati Gabrielle). Surprise is the secret weapon of You, a drama that thrives on plot twists and suspenseful reveals. And it’s interwoven with real-life problems, like Love figuring out how to be a first-time mom, grieving her twin brother, and trying to keep her marriage alive. At the end of season 3 comes the biggest shocker yet, when Love, upon discovering Joe’s infidelity, injects him with a poison meant to paralyze him. But in the end, he survives and kills her instead—faking his own death and burning their house down. Once again, he walks free.
The ending may be a gut punch to fans who fell in love with Pedretti’s Love, a California chef with a girl-next-door vibe and a dark, murderous history that could rival Joe’s. The goodbye was emotional for Pedretti, too. “I did start crying as me [as a person], very sad for what the character had to go through,” she says.
But, sitting in a white T-shirt in her L.A. home during our Zoom call, Pedretti is ready for what’s next. She’s has already carved a career outside of You, starring in Netflix’s Haunting of Hill House and Bly Manor, appearing in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, and landing the lead role in the upcoming adaptation of the novel Lucky by Alice Sebold (author of The Lovely Bones). Country queen Kacey Musgraves even tapped her for a Mean Girls-esque cameo in her visual album star-crossed, along with Drag Race’s Symone and rapper Princess Nokia. “Kacey reached out to me and I literally threw my phone across the room,” she gushes.
Beyond that, Pedretti hints at more projects in the works, including directing and “experimenting with film as a medium, from different angles beyond acting.” And in her downtime, the music lover has buzzy albums on rotation from artists like Baby Keem, Snoh Aalegra, Tyler, the Creator, and Musgraves, of course (“Breadwinner” is a favorite).
“I’m very excited for what the future holds,” a confident Pedretti says. So are we.
What was your first impression of the season 3 script?
I don’t feel like I have extremely strong opinions, I just have to take on the character and what they’re going through. I definitely found it interesting to explore what it is to be a young, first-time mother, entering into that role as a person in the world. And that’s kind of how the story starts off. So contemplating that, especially since that isn’t my own lived experience. I think there’s something really tragic about the ending and also beautiful and also a bit of a warning towards the importance of being authentic for yourself and not forgetting yourself fighting for yourself and your desires.
Yeah. I think it’s really interesting you mentioned that because that last conversation that Love has with Marienne was kind of tragic. It’s her realizing that she does deserve a better life and then she doesn’t get to fulfill or realize that.
Yeah, she does for like a split second. The idea that murdering [Joe] is the way to find herself is still probably, I want to say taking “the easy route” but, I think that’s always the issue with the show is that instead of doing more rigorous work, instead of taking responsibility for your actions…It was just Yom Kippur, so I was thinking about repentance and what it is to treat people well and take responsibility for your behavior. The way we treat others is directly related, I believe, to how we treat ourselves. And so much of the show is about these people who, instead of doing the hard work, they find this “easy”—and I say that in quotations—option of just murdering people, as if that will ever be a fully satisfying solution for these issues they have within themselves. It takes a lot of courage to admit that you’re wrong, to grow, to change.
Speaking of the responsibility for your actions, I don’t know if you feel differently because you were so immersed in your character, but for me, it was very frustrating to see Joe just walk away again.
I feel like it is representative of how a lot of us live. Even when we’re not Joe, this idea that we don’t take responsibility, that we remain the same, that we can’t recognize our responsibility and our part in our own struggle. And I think it makes all the sense in the world. Of course, that’s who he is. And I feel like we sympathize with him because we, in some way, relate to him. Our egos run the show. [Pauses] But, like, I don’t relate to him at all. [Laughs]
No, but I think that makes sense in the vein of running away from your problems. In every season, Joe’s run away to a different city. Not that I would go extreme, but it’s hard, as you say, to confront the consequences of your actions. Even without murder.
Yeah. But even just doing it, like performing, dying, we did that very quickly. That was like 20 minutes at the end of the day, which of course happens. I’ve died a few times on television, but this one, I think, especially because she was leaving her child, I think I felt pretty wrecked afterwards. I think I was frustrated with the amount of time that we had to do it. I think that it felt like she was being cut off right as she was about to expand. Do you know what I mean? For me, as Victoria, going through those actions and stepping away, it took a second to separate myself from it. I did feel the effects of it. I did start crying as me, very sad for what the character had to go through.
I mean, do we think Love could have a Candace-style return or did you discuss with the showrunners that this is it?
I wish that that wasn’t the truth, you know? But I think she’s dead. I don’t know. But I’m pretty, pretty positive. It’s sad. I definitely loved her a lot.
Was her dying the final scene that you shot too, when you did your whole series wrap?
No. The weird thing was that days after that, I was just a body. I was being moved around as a body. And so when wrapped the show, I’d been dead for a couple of days, so it was kind of anticlimactic. Actually, the last scene that I shot was where I was alive, kind of an insert of me placing the poison in the cabinet. So I got to reanimate for that.
You mentioned this briefly earlier, but the whole season is kind of an exploration of motherhood and the expectation of women to get it “right,” whatever that means. Since this is not something that you’ve lived through yourself, how did you absorb that information for the character? Did you talk to first time moms or was it just something that you wanted to do as Love?
I definitely checked in with people that were watching the monitor that I knew were moms for feedback. I mean, a lot of my work, I really try to inform it through different things or experiences or stuff that I’ve seen. But I really try to work from my imagination and my understanding of the character. Love has always been protective. That’s not going to be just a quality of her as a mother. That’s just who she is. She’s a really devoted caretaker if not like a smothering caretaker and really wants to be depended on. So I just worked to translate that to the context of, a human being of your body, that grew within you for nine months, and like a raw part of you, that’s now like outside of you, which is intense. It’s definitely extreme.
Yeah. This season we see her mom very ruthlessly calling her out for being drawn to boys that she can “fix,” like her brother, or Joe, and this new relationship that she forms with Theo.
It’s directly related to the conversation she has with Marianne at the end. She’s not focusing on herself. She’s allowing these relationships outside of herself to give her a sense of purpose. Including having a child. Instead of finding and being driven by a sense of security and purpose within herself, she gains value from these things instead of seeing herself as enough, just as is. I think she and Joe both struggle with this, which is part of why we sympathize with them. It’s like all of this behavior is being driven by deep insecurity. Which is also true about so many of the narcissists that run society. It’s like a product of the trauma they experience as children, and they’ve never learned to find value outside of themselves, and so will aspire and become greedy and try to fill this never ending void instead of just deciding that you’re enough. I mean, it’s not easy.
Did you talk about Love and Theo’s complicated relationship with Dylan Arnold and the showrunner, how to delicately portray that since he’s much younger than her?
The age difference? He’s definitely not a child. I don’t think we talked a lot about the trickiness. I mean, Dylan is actually a year older than me, so that’s Hollywood for you.
Yeah. 20-year-olds playing teens.
Right. And I’m supposed to be older than him and a [married] woman.
But I think we saw it as the unique relationship that they’re kind of forging within the context of their town and both of their lived experiences. And their trauma and whatnot. It is really interesting though, how that forges. I see them at the end when he’s like “run away with me” and I think about it when she’s talking to Marienne. She does get a glimpse of how maybe she ought to be treated, where somebody is really concerned about her well-being in a way that her parents don’t really show a regard for, and her husband doesn’t show much regard for, her brother didn’t show much regard for.
Speaking of her brother, I really thought that was a nice surprise to see Forty back, even though it was in a hallucination scene. But there was so much going on that I almost forgot that she’s grieving the death of her twin. It adds a layer of how much she’s dealing with on top of being a mom and having a rocky relationship and not fitting in her new neighborhood, and also clashing with her mother. How do you think she’s kind of handling the grief on top of those things?
I mean, she’s not talking about it! She’s not asking for help. She’s pushing it all under. She has this need to represent herself as secure because she knows that being too insecure does come off as unattractive, and she’s more worried about coming off as attractive and appealing than she is about being honest about where she’s at. Again, I think that’s pretty relatable, but we see the way it makes her suffer and struggle and these secrets become shameful. When we’re not able to share certain things, I think we do develop shame around them. She’s not being able to share in her grief, certainly, even if her mother is also grieving, they’re experiencing it in very different ways. And then Joe doesn’t give a shit. He’s moved on, he’s not thinking about it. He’s completely in his own world.
And it’s beautiful when she’s able to relate with Theo about grief and also about being in the public eye and the effect that that has. She often doesn’t talk about that. And then she forges his relationship with Sherry [Shalita Grant], where she can talk about being a mother and being a wife. Not that that’s the best friendship, but it does really serve her.
There was a lot of talk about “soulmates” or what it means to be “the one” this season. Personally, are you a romantic? Is that something that you believe in?
I don’t know if I believe in soulmates; I’m certainly romantic. I think any artist ought to be romantic. I hope that my portrayals of the world are hopeful. Even if [You] is one of the shows. I do think that a lot of us are vibrating on very different frequencies and it does feel kind of miraculous when we’re able to find people we can even vibrate alongside us for even a time. ‘Cause we’re always going to have moments of difficulty with communication and connection, because we define language differently, but it does feel special and precious to find and then cultivate friendships and relationships that enrich our lives. It can feel like magic. I think it’s so special.
But the word “soulmate,” the idea of “the one,” I think is extremely toxic and leads to extremely high divorce rates and a lot of dissatisfaction. [Laughs] In romantic relationships, especially. ‘Cause then that kind of navigates around the work necessary to develop healthy habits and to work on yourself and work on your communication skills.
I think that’s what Sherry was talking about, right? Putting in the work for somebody to be your soulmate, rather than just finding them and then living happily together forever?
Yeah. That Sherry, man. She’s a smarty.
Yeah. I’ve got to give it to her.
She’s got some good ideas. I might check out that book tour.
Is there anything you hope will happen to Joe in the series?
I’m hopeful. I don’t know what would be a good fate for Joe, to be honest. I really don’t. I hope he sees the errors in his ways, but I for some reason, struggle with imagining that could ever happen. ‘Cause he still thinks that he’s doing that even when he’s not.
It might take a couple more seasons for him to realize.
Yeah. I don’t know what justice would look like.