Oliver Jackson-Cohen Digs Into The Haunting of Bly Manor’s Poisonous, Broken Villain Peter Quint

Spoilers for The Haunting of Bly Manor episode 7, “The Two Faces, Half Two,” beneath.

The Haunting of Bly Manor has no scarcity of ghosts, apparitions and otherworldly villains, most of them working each as literal threats and metaphorical representations of guilt, grief, and denial. However essentially the most memorable and complicated of all of the baddies haunting Bly Manor is Peter Quint, a suave Glaswegian valet who’s hiding an entire host of darkish secrets and techniques behind his rakish smile.

After briefly showing as a daunting specter haunting the manor, Quint is launched in episode 3, “The Two Faces, Half One,” as a fantasy of an urbane 1980s man, purchasing for tailor-made menswear and premium whiskey in west London to the sounds of Tender Cell’s “Tainted Love.” Even because the fantasy is undercut with the revelation that the luxurious items are for his boss, Henry Wingrave (Henry Thomas), Peter nonetheless retains an air of easy confidence. That straightforward floor allure belies a darkish, singleminded willpower to get forward in any respect prices—and to flee his personal previous, irrespective of who he takes down within the course of. That allure additionally enthralls Wingrave’s newly employed au pair, Rebecca Jessel (Tahirah Sharif), whose tumultuous affair with Quint finally ends up destroying her.

Jackson-Cohen speaks to ELLE.com about Quint’s poisonous relationship with Rebecca, the machismo he wears as a masks, and the way he compares to The Haunting of Hill Home’s Luke Crain.

Luke actually goes via the wringer in The Haunting of Hill Home—heroin habit, deep grief, a near-death expertise—so that you had a number of heavy stuff to play. Once you have been approached to return for Bly Manor, was it necessary to you that Peter Quint be a really completely different type of character?

On Hill Home, Mike [Flanagan, series creator] used to all the time really feel sorry for Luke and apologize [for] days after I needed to be in floods of tears and all that. But it surely’s my job! It’s my job, on the finish of the day. So with this, Mike known as me as he was standing exterior the Netflix constructing, I believe final February. Nothing had been introduced, they have been nonetheless speaking about what they have been going to do [with season 2]. He known as me out of the blue and stated “Hey, I’ve obtained this concept. It is Flip of the Screw, do you need to be in it?” He stated he needed me and Victoria [Pedretti] to be in it. I went, “Yeah, after all, who would you like us to play?” And he went, “I do not actually know. I believe Victoria will play the nanny after which we’ll determine it out with you.” Approaching that early was type of unbelievable, as a result of we obtained to develop Peter collectively.

What did that course of appear to be?

Effectively, Mike initially stated to me, “He is the villain,” and my instant response was, “Okay, however why?” Within the e book he’s this type of threatening specter, so how will we make him human? How will we make him actual? How will we make him relatable and nonetheless be an adaptation of what’s represented within the e book? And one factor I stated to Mike early on is that it’s very attention-grabbing that Peter behaves the best way he does, as a result of it’s a masks.

Once you meet him at the start of the present, he comes throughout as this conceited know-it-all: He is type of a product. He is a person from the ’80s, thinks he is fairly suave. I beloved the concept for Peter, he thinks if he places on a go well with and does his hair actually properly, and he’s charming and fascinating, and the entire issues he thinks he ought to be, then he will not ever need to take care of the truth that he got here from a childhood that was extremely painful. I believe that is a really human thought.

the haunting of bly manor l to r oliver jackson cohen as peter quint in the haunting of bly manor cr eike schroternetflix © 2020

Oliver Jackson-Cohen as Peter Quint in The Haunting of Bly Manor.

EIKE SCHROTER/NETFLIX

Proper, his complete id is him attempting to disclaim his previous.

Yeah, Mike and I began speaking about that an terrible lot. We meet a lot of these individuals on a regular basis on the planet. How we not often ever get out of childhood with out scratches, and a few are extra extreme than others. I believe it is very attention-grabbing for somebody to overtly be that macho, suave kind of man, when there’s additionally one thing extremely damage in there.

How a lot of his relationship with Rebecca is real? He appears to have actual emotions for her, however he’s additionally so prepared to make use of her and con her in no matter method serves him.

The way in which that I approached it was that he actually, actually loves her, however does not actually know the way to try this. He does not know tips on how to categorical that in a wholesome, protected method. Early on, Mike stated, “Oh, he’s simply manipulating her,” and I stated, “Wait, wait, wait. She would not fall in love with him except there was one thing about him that made her fall in love with him.”

So we wanted to do it in a method the place he genuinely loves Rebecca. He genuinely loves her and finally ends up doing these horrific issues, however in his thoughts it comes from this place of, he has by no means had anybody in his life present him care or love in that method. He’s by no means going to let that go. He’ll do no matter it takes to maintain that. I believe it holds a mirror as much as so many poisonous relationships that actual ladies and men expertise of their lives, the place you possibly can see it is smart, however that doesn’t imply it’s okay. We needed to confuse the viewers that method, and have them hopefully flip backwards and forwards between considering he is this horrific, poisonous man, and truly feeling his ache.

the haunting of bly manor l to r amelie smith as flora and tahirah sharif as rebecca jessel in the haunting of bly manor cr eike schroternetflix © 2020

Amelie Smith as Flora Wingrave and Tahirah Sharif as Rebecca Jessel.

EIKE SCHROTER/NETFLIX

There’s one second specifically I can’t cease serious about, which is the primary time we actually see Quint’s darkness. He flies into this rage after Rebecca tastes Owen’s batter. It’s actually sudden and actually nasty. What’s occurring there?

He is nuts! What I believe is going on is that he is scared. He does not suppose this can final. In that second, he immediately felt he wasn’t value [Rebecca’s] time, that she was going to go away like everybody else has left. So, “I will damage you earlier than you possibly can damage me.” I really feel like everybody’s been in a relationship sooner or later the place that is occurred. When persons are susceptible or scared, they lash out in such ferocious methods to cowl up their ache.

Halfway via the season, we notice that Miles (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) is definitely being possessed by Peter, therefore his creepy, older-than-his-years conduct. How did you and Ben method these scenes?

Ben and I sat down in pre-production and began to debate stuff we may usher in, and what we may work collectively on: physicality stuff, speech, all these various things. Then we might undergo the script and for any Miles possession scene, I’d learn the Miles traces after which Ben would type of copy what I did. It will need to have been fairly a tall order, to ask somebody that younger to immediately remodel like that: Proper, go forward, be a creepy 35-year-old man! However he was sensible. He actually was. Then after we would go to shoot it, I’d go to set, and be simply off digital camera. I’d type of assist direct him in the best way I felt Peter would behave or react to sure issues.

Quint is Scottish and works for English individuals, which is clearly a really particular dynamic traditionally and provides rather a lot to the character. How did you and Mike choose that as his origin?

It was fairly an enormous factor in constructing him. Initially Mike requested if I may do a Manchester accent, and I stated, “I don’t suppose I can.” So he stated “Okay, properly, what would you like him to be? Would you like him to be from London?” And I remembered seeing this exhibition years in the past by a photographer who took photos of those tenement buildings in Glasgow. All these council buildings from the ’60s and ’70s, and I simply thought, that’s the place Peter is from. I do know what his home seems to be like.

I assumed it was very, very attention-grabbing, the dynamic of him being from Glasgow, particularly at the moment. Rising up there within the ’60s and ’70s, with what was happening at the moment, I assumed it actually provides to the story that he’s moved to England to work. He is attempting to get as distant from the life that he knew as he can. Which is why, in the end when his mom turns up, it is the worst potential factor that might ever occur to him, that she’s discovered him. She’s getting into into his world with out his consent.

Yeah, the connection together with his mom that emerges in episode 7 actually adjustments the way you see the character.

It was the constructing block of it. Once more, it is a very human factor, that all of us are type of obsessive about look. I am not simply speaking about bodily look, I am speaking about how we come throughout on the planet. We fear about, do these individuals like me? Am I going to be accepted like this? How am I going to be seen? I believe that is been Peter’s complete existence. He had this actually tough, abusive childhood, and has by no means had anybody in his life that confirmed him care or love. In a method, he is a product of that, and the extremes of his conduct are a product of that. His total life is constructed round, how do I seem like one thing that I am truly not? How can I be seen in a sure mild that negates what has gone on in my previous?

It is also fairly attention-grabbing, the thought of selection. In Hill Home, Luke had these horrific experiences as a baby. However his will to good was larger than his will to dangerous. He needed to be good. In distinction, you see with somebody like Peter, it is gone too far. There is part of him that can’t get well and can’t rebuild from the injury that was carried out.

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Emma Dibdin writes about tv, films, and podcasts, with protection together with opinion essays, information posts, episodic evaluations and in-depth interviews with creatives.

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