‘The Haunting of Bly Manor’ Was Almost Completely Different With This Actor as the Gardener, Instead of Amelia Eve’s Jamie
By now, everyone’s Twitter feeds and Netflix lists have probably alerted them to The Haunting of Bly Manor. It’s the second season of Mike Flanagan’s Haunting anthology series, following The Haunting of Hill House. It’s such a completely different story and has such a different vibe; it really is such a standalone. However, because of Hill House, one actor couldn’t play Victoria Pedretti’s love interest this time around. [Spoiler alert: Spoilers ahead for The Haunting of Bly Manor].
Oliver Jackson-Cohen and Victoria are among a few returning actors from ‘The Haunting of Hill House’
In the vein of something like American Horror Story, The Haunting of Bly Manor features some of the same actors from The Haunting of Hill House. While it’s not the whole cast, it’s a great mix of old and new.
Pedretti is back, playing Dani this time. Dani is an American au pair hired to look after two orphans at their family’s summer house, Bly Manor. Oliver Jackson-Cohen comes back, this time, as Peter Quint, the business associate for Henry Wingrave, the children’s uncle. And Wingrave is played by Henry Thomas, coming back after playing young Hugh Crain.
Two other returning actors were somewhat surprises. Fans knew Kate Siegel would return, but they didn’t know in what capacity. But later in the season, it’s revealed that Siegel is Viola Willoughby/Lloyd, part of the original family who owned Bly Manor. She ends up having a traumatic death and becomes Lady of the Lake.
And lastly, Carla Gugino returned, completely by surprise, as The Storyteller. She narrates the whole season, and is later revealed to be an older Jamie.
Dani’s love story with the gardener almost looked completely different
While The Haunting of Bly Manor is an eerie, dark ghost story (of sorts), it is mostly a Gothic romance. Meaning that in between those dark, intense supernatural moments, there are also love stories. While there are a few couples, one really captivated viewers and was such a slow, yet important, burn. And that’s Dani and Jamie’s love, which becomes vital at the end.
However, according to Jackson-Cohen, it wasn’t always going to be Amelia Eve as Jamie, the Gardener. In an earlier version of the script, he was set to play the gardener.
″I kind of signed up based on this phone call,″ Jackson-Cohen told Entertainment Weekly on Oct. 5. ″There were so many different iterations of how it was going to play out. We weren’t clear on who I would play.″
So why did that change? Because Jackson-Cohen and Pedretti played siblings in The Haunting of Hill House.
“It was an iteration where Victoria and I were going to play lovers,″ he said. ″And then I think Netflix was like, ‘No, that’s a bit weird seeing as [you played] twins.’″
While audiences probably would have been able to get past that, considering they’re brand new characters, choosing to go with a queer romance was a fantastic move. Dani and Jamie’s ending was heartwrenching, but also hauntingly beautiful.
Jackson-Cohen didn’t want Peter Quint to straight-up be the villain
Jackson-Cohen’s character did go on to have a really big role in the story, though. Peter Quint is Henry Wingrave’s associate, but he’s also a bit devious. Charming, yet definitely always has an ulterior motive. However, he’s not a clean-cut villain, and that’s something Jackson-Cohen wanted to make sure of when he took the role.
″I said, very early on, we can’t play him as a villain,″ he said. ″It was a similar conversation that director Leigh [Whannell] and I had on Invisible Man. We didn’t want him to be the black mustache-twirling [guy]. I think the same thing applied with Peter.”
Jackson-Cohen explained how he and director Mike Flanagan were “really interested in blurring the lines” of good guy and bad guy, even though Quint does do a lot of terrible things.
“What Peter does in Bly is toxic. It is about masculinity and it is about ownership and it’s about possession,” Jackson-Cohen said. “I kept on saying to Mike, he’s a little boy that’s really badly hurt and he’s put on all of these masks in order to appear to be this thing.″
It’s safe to say Peter Quint and Luke Crain from The Haunting of Hill House are opposites. While Luke has his own demons and makes his own mistakes, there is a very big difference between the two characters. Even if Peter isn’t a straight-up villain, he’s not nearly as good of a guy as Luke.
″Luke chose to be good,″ Jackson-Cohen said. ″He had a will to be good. Peter is struggling.″