Spoilers for The Haunting of Bly Manor episode 9, “The Beast in the Jungle” below.
“It’s not a ghost story—it’s a love story.” The truth of that line is clear long before it’s actually delivered in the Haunting of Bly Manor finale, which spotlights the achingly tender romance between Victoria Pedretti’s Dani and Amelia Eve’s Jamie. Though both women make it out of the haunted Bly Manor alive—and together—Dani has made a sacrifice that permanently changes her.
Early in the finale, Dani intervenes just in time to stop the Lady in the Lake (Viola) from killing Flora. She does this by inviting the ghost into herself, which ensures she can’t harm anyone else, but also leaves Dani haunted and burdened, deeply aware of the dark presence inside her. Still, thanks to Jamie’s bullish determination and deep love for her, Dani is able to enjoy a relatively normal and happy life for many years before the ghost of Viola finally consumes her altogether.
After the inevitable happens, Dani returns to Bly Manor and becomes its new Lady in the Lake, while the grief-stricken Jamie grows up to become Carla Gugino’s Storyteller, never losing hope that Dani will return to her one day. It’s a devastating ending that fits right in with the show’s tone of Gothic romance, and doesn’t in any way undermine the richness of Dani and Jamie’s relationship.
Eve speaks to ELLE.com about building Jamie’s backstory, how playing this character transformed her into a plant person, and the cut scene between Dani and Jamie she can’t stop thinking about.
What did you know when you first auditioned?
I actually thought my character was dead. I just had a feeling. I thought it was some kind of The Others situation where she would pop up occasionally but was actually dead. Then I booked the role and still didn’t know who my character was until I met with Mike [Flanagan, the series creator]. He gave me a rough overview of the story and that there was a narrator, and the story was bookended by this character, and how she linked back to Jamie. I definitely did not expect that at all. I mean, to find out that it would be Carla Gugino? I was blown away!
Did you work with Carla on the accent?
Yeah, we did. I would send her tapes of me doing the lines, and then she would get them back to me and we had lots of dialogue about it, which was fabulous. I mean obviously she’s Carla Gugino, so she was gonna nail it, right?
Jamie’s monologue about her father’s experience as a miner is really beautiful. Where did that backstory emerge from?
Mike told me from day one that there was going to be a monologue. He told me he loved monologues and he loved slow push-ins on a person’s face, and he said, “You may hate it, but you might also love it, but that’s what we’re going to do.” And I was like, okay, I’m there! He hadn’t quite written the monologue yet, but we knew there was going to be one. And so I had put together this backstory for Jamie, using a lot of articles that had really inspired me, and I sent that off to Mike and said, “Here’s this! Feel free to ignore it, but this is what I was thinking, let me know what you think.” And he transformed that into her monologue.
So the backstory came from you!
Yeah, I actually had quite a big part in the monologue, in creating and putting her life story together, which was just incredible. And then obviously Mike came in with his magic gold dust and made it way better! I felt very connected to it already, by the time we got to filming that scene, because I had put those blocks into place and pieced together these points in her life through my research.
Which scenes stand out the most in your mind from filming?
There are two. The last scene for Jamie, at the lake when she goes to try and get Dani back, just felt amazing. The exhaustion at the end of that scene, from swimming back, that was real exhaustion from doing multiple takes, but also that’s exactly how Jamie would have felt. She has nothing left to possibly give, because it’s all been dragged away from her and left at the bottom of that lake.
The other scene that really stands out is a scene between Victoria and I that actually isn’t in the edit—hopefully it’ll be released one day. It comes in between the moment when Dani is about to strangle Jamie [under Viola’s influence], and the moment when she leaves the next morning. We shot a scene where Jamie woke up, and she sees Dani leaving, and she gets her to stay. We filmed that scene and we poured our hearts into it, we were both in tears, and Victoria and I held one another in the scene, but even once they had shouted “cut,” we were still holding onto each other. I think there was just this beautiful feeling of catharsis for the both of us. That really stayed with me.
A lot of people, myself included, have been getting very into plants during lockdown, so I felt very seen by Jamie’s line: “How do you think I keep all these plants watered? With my endless well of deep inconsolable tears.” Are you a plant person?
Jamie has made me a plant person! Before I met Jamie I wasn’t even able to keep a goldfish alive. Plants were not my friend, I just wasn’t paying enough attention to them. I love dogs, and I’m great with animals, but things that don’t call out when they’re hungry, those things are a bit harder to keep on top of—like plants and goldfish! But since working with Jamie, I realized how much plants do actually talk to us. They really do, just the same way that dogs, the same way that humans do. They communicate, and once you understand the language they’re communicating in, it’s so much easier to help them flourish. I’m very proud of my garden now, and I think Jamie would be as well. I might do a little Instagram post before they all die in the winter.
The show deals with grief and trauma and memory in a really interesting way. Were there any particular emotional ideas that resonated with you?
Owen’s character and what he goes through with his mother, it’s just so beautiful and raw. At the time, my dog had passed away when I had just got to Vancouver to start filming. They had just sent out those scripts, for episodes 4, 5, and 6, and they gave me such solace. I remember reading them and feeling soothed by the characters, in that moment of my own small grief for my pup.
Oh, wow. That’s beautiful. And then the idea of loss extends into the finale, where Dani and Jamie are together but living with this looming threat of Viola that’s gradually consuming Dani. Jamie’s experience there feels similar to living with a partner who has a terminal illness, or maybe a severe mental illness.
Yeah, there’s a lot of layers to it. Jamie has been through so much in her life, and she had never had somebody to love and be loved by in that capacity she found with Dani. Once she had that, the fear of losing that is just so haunting. To watch that person you love, that has completed you and has made you finally feel like a whole person, to see them then suffering and carrying this weight, is almost unbearable. Jamie would take it off her if she could, just take the Lady in the Lake out of her and hold it within herself, because she and Dani have the same mentality. They’re both kind of selfless within themselves, and they have the attitude of, “I’m gonna protect everybody else by taking this on.” The agony of watching that, for Jamie, is very raw.
A queer romance at the center of a genre show still feels pretty novel, and incredibly meaningful. Were you aware of that as you were filming?
Do you know what’s bizarre? When Mike told me Dani and Jamie were going to be a couple, this is gonna sound really silly, but I didn’t even think of them as a lesbian couple. It just felt like a relationship. These two people completed one another. That’s how we acted it, that’s what felt natural and what felt right—it’s just a relationship between two people who are in love. And to have this response from people has really made me open my eyes a bit more. What we did so naturally, without really thinking about it, means a lot more than I realized at the time.
The relationship really struck a chord with fans. What’s it been like to see the reactions?
I’m just speechless. I’ve been trying to read as many of the messages as I can, and they are beautiful. I remember saying to my sisters when I was filming the show, that if I could help just one person feel something, I’ll feel like I’ve done my job. So to see how many people have been impacted, and how many people have felt something from it, it’s just beautiful. I’m so honored and proud.
Watch The Haunting of Bly Manor
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Photographs by Joseph Sinclair. Hair and makeup by Nadia Altinbas.
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