The Transformation Of Victoria Pedretti From 6 To 27 Years Old

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This article references sexual assault.

Whether she's haunting "Hill House" or "Bly Manor," or tapping into what makes "You" tick, actor Victoria Pedretti has been on everyone's minds since her screen debut in 2018. The actor has a penchant for the macabre, with many of her roles leading her through the twists and turns of supernatural, sci-fi, and psychoanalytical forces. In real life, Pedretti is a sensitive soul with an empathetic muscle primed for acting. "We can really cut ourselves off from how we feel, especially, I find, out of judgment for how [we're] feeling," she explained to StyleLikeU.

From screens both small and silver, to music videos and short films, Pedretti has already mapped out her burgeoning career like a professional. "It's so great being an actor because I don't play labels," she told Glamour. "I play people and that's the goal." So how did this East Coast girl become one of the most acclaimed scream queens of her generation? The secret can be found in the transformation of Victoria Pedretti.

Early years and childhood dreams

Born and raised in Philadelphia to academic parents, Victoria Pedretti was interested in creative expression from a very young age. "I grew up in the arts," Pedretti recalled in an interview with Byrdie. "I had the opportunity to be deeply affected by a lot of film, television, and theater ... I never imagined I could ever be in them." The youngster pursued multiple artistic outlets throughout middle school and high school until she could find the one that interested her the most. "I was one of those kids who demanded attention," she told V Magazine. "I tried dancing and singing, and I think through a lot of rejection in those [pursuits], I found my way to acting."

It wasn't until she faced her first rejection that the stars aligned for Pedretti. As she told Byrdie, her heart was always aimed towards the stage — however, she'd initially attempted to focus her talents solely on musical theatre. When she didn't make the cut for a musical production in high school, she found herself doing the school play instead. The opportunity provided a life-changing epiphany — she was an actor. "Though it felt like a failure at the time, I was able to find my greatest passion [through the play]," she mused. 

She was diagnosed with severe ADD as a child

Despite her efforts, it wasn't that easy for Victoria Pedretti to find her way to her chosen field. "I struggled in school and I wasn't very good at many things. But [acting] I'm okay at," she jokingly shared in a "Ladies Night" interview with Collider. Those struggles may be tied to the actor being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD or ADHD) as a young child. "I have severe ADD ... It affects the way I live, the way I think, the way I process information or don't process information," she explained to Glamour.

Having received the diagnosis at 6 or 7 years old, Pedretti has never let the label of her disorder affect how she sees herself or her worth. "[It] was so damaging to me at [a young] age because it didn't do anything for how I defined myself," she told the outlet. "It only allowed other people to make assumptions." She elaborated that the label can too often lead to generalizations about a person when in reality everyone who experiences the neurological disorder is different.

"I remember going to an ADD support group [and] being like, 'I don't like these people,' and why should I?" she pondered to Glamour. "Those mental diagnoses, I feel like they often do so much more for the people treating you than it does to the actual individual having an understanding and feeling empowered within their identity."

She studied drama, but still faced haters

Victoria Pedretti went on to study drama at one of the most preeminent institutions for the craft in the United States, Carnegie Mellon University. The school boasts an impressive array of alums across the silver screen and the stage, including Judith Light, Zachary Quinto, and Leslie Odom Jr. However, her personal experience in the program was mixed at best. "I have a very complex relationship with that school," Pedretti said in an interview with Trib Live. "It was a dark time. I think a lot of people had a really rough time. I hope they do more to help create a more positive environment there." 

Pedretti suggested that some teaching materials and methods felt antiquated and alleged that the varying needs of the diverse student body weren't always met because of it. Speaking to Collider, she complained that her acting teachers could also be negative influences during her studies. "They were like 'I don't know if you're cut out for this,'" she recalled. "This was the most offensive thing, they were like 'Maybe you should try directing,' and I was like 'That's not easier!'"

Pedretti pushed her haters to the side and received her BFA in Acting from the university in 2017. From there, it was off to the races in terms of career-building,

She graduated straight to scream queen

Right after graduating, Victoria Pedretti booked her first role in Netflix's "The Haunting of Hill House" as Eleanor "Nell" Crain, the troubled youngest daughter and twin of the equally troubled Luke Crain, portrayed by Oliver Jackson-Cohen. 

The acclaimed series, which is based on Shirley Jackson's 1959 novel of the same name, was a smash hit for Netflix and gained much attention for Pedretti's acting chops — even during the jump scares! As she was getting used to being on set, the star picked up tips from several of her co-stars that have helped her become accustomed to the industry. She explained to Collider that Carla Gugino, who plays matriarch Olivia Crain in the show, helped to provide a template of how to harmoniously overcome the stress of common on-set challenges. "She creates a wonderful atmosphere. She really takes on that role of leadership," she said. "... [It] really improves the working environment for everybody, and she's just a beacon of grace."

"Hill House" marks the first project she did with showrunner, Mike Flanagan, known for his emotional work that combines both dramatic precision and horror elements. "So many people told me on that set, 'You know, stuff doesn't work like this. You're being spoiled,' and that's true," Pedretti told Collider. "It was really an environment that was conducive to real creativity and I'm forever grateful ... It was a really special way to start off my career."

Horror doors led straight to You

Soon after "Hill House" premiered on Netflix in 2018, Victoria Pedretti was cast as Love Quinn, the romantic obsession of Penn Badgley's charismatic killer, Joe Goldberg on the Netflix series "You." Given the dark nature of the show, it made Pedretti's name even more synonymous with the horror and thriller genres.

But it wasn't the role of Love that the actor originally had her eye on. During her senior year of college, Pedretti had actually auditioned for the role of Guinevere Beck. As she reflected to Nylon, the character went on to be perfectly depicted by the actor Elizabeth Lail, and everything else worked out for the best for Pedretti. "If I had done that, I couldn't have [depicted Love Quinn] and I couldn't have done 'The Haunting of Hill House,'" she explained. "It all happens the way that is meant to be."

As it turns out, the actor's second major role had some hard–hitting similarities to her breakout performance in "Hill House." "One of the most interesting things to me is that the character [in 'You'] they described was a twin to an addict, and a widow, like Nell [on 'The Haunting of Hill House',]" Pedretti said in an interview with The New York Times. "It was really bizarre to be offered the opportunity to explore these similar experiences through a completely different mind."

She led the pack into a new Haunting house

Victoria Pedretti returned to the so–titled "Flanaverse" in 2020 with a leading role in Netflix's "The Haunting of Bly Manor," which is adapted from Henry James' 1896 novella "The Turn of the Screw." The actor starred as Dani Clayton, an American au pair hired to care for a pair of children in — you guessed it — a very haunted house. With three of her major roles thus far erring on the spooky side, you'd think the actor would be a horror fan, but that's not the case. "I grew up not liking horror at all. I just didn't," Pedretti shared with Rue Morgue. " I think I just wasn't exposed to the right things. ... [But] there is something particularly interesting I think I've found in having to bring yourself to imagining things that don't exist."

As for relating to her characters, particularly in the "Flanaverse," Pedretti has continued to keep a grounded outlook on the supernatural spirits she portrays. As she told Town & Country, her perspective on life and the world is somewhat mirrored by Mike Flanagan's approach to characterization and storytelling. "I think life is really sad and sweet," she explained. "That's just kind of how it is, and I appreciate that Mike has this devotion to showing the duality within that. He won't let us get lost in tragedy, and he won't let us get lost in the fantasy."

First comes TV, then comes film

Between her various TV show stints, Victoria Pedretti has sprinkled in some film roles, most of which are also of a macabre nature. She had a minor role as Leslie "Lulu" Van Houten, a disciple of infamous cult leader Charles Manson, in Quentin Tarantino's "Once Upon A Time In Hollywood." 

She's also starred in a reboot of Steven Spielberg's "Amazing Stories" on Apple+, where she starred in the episode, "The Cellar" (and showed off her singing skills!) alongside Dylan O'Brien. Showrunner Eddy Kitsis told The Wrap, "We were obsessed with her on 'Hill House' and the benefit of working with [Spielberg's production company] Amblin is, 'Can you get this to Victoria?' — and they did. That scene where she's singing alone is, like, so magical. We would just watch that scene in editing and it was like — everything about the character, she just did in that one scene. It was amazing her talent."

In a particularly poignant twist of fate, she even landed a role alongside Elisabeth Moss in the biopic "Shirley," based on the life of Shirley Jackson, the author who wrote "The Haunting of Hill House." Pedretti's penchant for the supernaturally spooky has prompted many outlets to dub her the "New Scream Queen," and by all accounts, she's loved the journey so far. "I feel incredibly gifted and blessed to have the opportunity to do what I love," the actor told The New York Times. "I look at every experience as a learning experience."

She's branched out personally and professionally

There's more to Victoria Pedretti than just scary stories. In 2021, the actor began to spread both her personal and professional wings. First up, she expanded her resume into the musical realm by starring in pop-country singer Kacey Musgraves' short film, "Star–Crossed," which accompanied the album of the same name. She also featured in the video for the album's lead single, "Simple Times," an homage to '90s cult film "Jawbreaker" that also starred the rapper, Princess Nokia, and drag superstar, Symone.

In her private life, Pedretti has been linked to her "You" co-star, Dylan Arnold, who played Theo Engler in the series. A source told ET that the pair had been dating for a few months after the two had been spotted shopping together for groceries. 

However, the actor has been pretty tight-lipped about her personal life, which also applies to her general lack of social media. She may have a public Instagram account, but that's about it — and even there, there are not a lot of pictures to peruse. "I see it as something I struggle to engage with authentically," she told Byrdie. "And therefore, I don't feel like I need to force it. It works for many people, and they know how to express themselves within that format. I'm more of a one-on-one person. That's definitely where I feel like I can communicate and have rich interactions with people."

She dropped out of two projects

As her career continued its upward ascent, Victoria Pedretti took the time to choose her roles carefully. Continuing with her tried-and-true penchant for darker storylines, she signed on to play author, Alice Sebold, in "Lucky." The film was to be based on the author's 1999 memoir of the same name that detailed her rape during her freshman year of college. According to Variety, in 2021 the movie lost its financing and was eventually dropped after producers found discrepancies concerning the trial of Sebold's alleged rapist, which were highlighted in an expose for The New York Times. As a result of this back and forth, Pedretti was listed as having left the project.

A few months later, she also left the cast of Hulu's psychological drama series "Saint X," in which she was to star as the lead. According to Variety, Pedretti cited creative differences as the reason for her departure and her role was recast with Alycia-Debnam Carey. This followed the news that the series had halted production in the Dominican Republic after a number of staff members went on strike due to unfair wages.

Having signed with CAA for artist representation in August 2022, perhaps this is a sign of more fruitful parts and partnerships to come. Maybe even comedy? "One thing that might be surprising is I'm not drawn to frightening content," she told Byrdie. "I love comedy. I also enjoy shows that mix many genres, which I think is emblematic of life."

She's a big advocate for self–care and womanhood

Outside of her acting career, Victoria Pedretti is drawn to a less spotlighted lifestyle, one where she prioritizes self–care. "My work is really emotional," she explained to Byrdie. "So, I feel like I'm f***ing with my nervous system. I think it's really important that I meditate and find moments to figure out how to shed my work off of me." She credits both yoga and cooking as ways of tapping into that self–focus. "Doing these habits has a large effect on my mental health," she continued. "I think working on our minds without working on our bodies is only doing half the work."

She is also an advocate for women's rights on and off the screen, telling Glamour that she's a firm believer in equality and in the vast rewards of women supporting one another. "It's incredible how in making up around 50% of the population, we are an oppressed majority," she stated. At the end of the day, Pedretti is a person who applies the good and the bad, the dark and the light, to everything she does, with the goal of evolving as she goes. "Every day is like going back to school and negotiating the things you thought you knew with the new things that you're learning and expanding your heart and mind," she told The New York Times. "Your acting muscle is the muscle of empathy. I just feel like I'm working really hard, and I love it."