This Timothée Chalamet Character Inspired Victoria Pedretti’s Dani on ‘The Haunting of Bly Manor’
Victoria Pedretti’s character Nell Crain in The Haunting of Hill House was vital to the overall plot of the show, but she didn’t have a ton of time on-screen. At least not in comparison to her role as Dani Clayton in The Haunting of Bly Manor. Dani is one of the leads and is the most important character in the end.
She’s confident as an au pair and fiercely protective of the Wingrave children. She’s selfless and kind, but she has a lot of past trauma that causes her anxiety often. But she’s on a path to discover herself and live a life for her as opposed to others. And Pedretti looked to a well-liked character for inspiration for Dani. [Spoiler alert: Spoilers ahead for The Haunting of Bly Manor].
Victoria Pedretti took inspiration from a Timothée Chalamet character
Dani has been in London for around six months by the time she interviews to be the new au pair for the Wingrave kids, Miles and Flora. She charms her way into the position after she runs into Henry Wingrave, their uncle, at a pub. She’s off to Bly Manor and, even though she’s a good caretaker, the manor has a lot of secrets and haunting triggers for Dani.
In an interview with NBC News on Oct. 29, Pedretti shared that she sometimes finds inspiration from other media and other actors for her roles. In Dani’s case, Timothée Chalamet’s role in Call Me By Your Name influenced Pedretti. Elio is a teenager in that movie, and interestingly it’s also set in the ‘80s, although it’s in Italy and not England.
Dani and Elio are “very different” as Pedretti pointed out, but the part she took note of was Elio’s “kind of curiosity.” Both are gay characters in the ‘80s, but they don’t come in to that fully until later. Dani knew, which is one of the reasons she broke off her engagement with Eddie. But it’s not until later that she claims that part of herself. For Elio, it’s sort of similar; he doesn’t actually grasp his attraction toward men until Armie Hammer’s Oliver shows up one summer.
But for Dani, that’s not the only part of herself that she’s curious to figure out.
Dani not only comes into her sexuality but she finds herself too
Pedretti told Glamour UK recently that a longer scene with Roby Attal who plays Eddie, Dani’s fiancé, showed that they really just weren’t compatible in essential ways other than her sexuality. The scene involved Eddie coming to the school Dani worked at because she missed an appointment to see their wedding venue. Eddie tells Dani that she doesn’t need to teach, that he “could take care” of her. It disregards her desires and goals in life.
“I think so many people see her relationship with him and think, ‘She’s gay, so that’s why she couldn’t stay with him,’ but it’s so much more beyond her sexuality,” Pedretti said. “It’s about her whole person, her environment, and how that’s not where she was going to be able to flourish.”
She relayed something similar to NBC News and said, “We’ve kind of even oversimplified her journey so much in so many of the conversations I’ve seen.”
Even though The Haunting of Bly Manor flowed well and still offered Dani up to audiences as a complex, dynamic character, there’s so much more to her, her journey, and her curiosity than her sexuality.
“She’s also coming out as a feminist and somebody who’s interested in existing beyond what’s expected of her as a woman in that place, in that time,” Pedretti noted. “It’s more that this isn’t her truth, that’s she’s not living fully in her truth. Part of that is her sexuality, but another part of that is her capabilities and utilizing her capabilities to the highest degree.”
Dani is gay but that doesn’t define her character
Yes, Dani’s queerness is relevant to the plot and her character because it is still something she’s grappling with and what leads her to Jamie. But it’s not what makes her tick or defines her. It’s not what makes Dani Clayton, Dani.
“I mean, everybody sees themselves differently. For Dani, I don’t think her queerness is any sort of ultimate defining factor,” Pedretti told Town & Country about Dani’s sexuality. “That’s not going to be true for every character; some characters do really relate to their queerness and their queer community in a way that is defining for them. It just depends on the character.”