[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for The Haunting of Bly Manor.]
The Haunting of Bly Manor, which just premiered on Netflix, brings a number of familiar faces back from The Haunting of Hill House, creator Mike Flanagan’s initial haunted house epic for Netflix, including Victoria Pedretti, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Henry Thomas, and Carla Gugino. But there are just as many new actors who gamely join the troupe and leave an indelible impression, among them the great Amelia Eve.
The British actress plays Jamie, the groundskeeper at the mysterious Bly Manor, who falls for the nanny (Pedretti) brought in to care for the two orphaned children on the grounds. We were lucky enough to chat with Eve about her character and some of the surprises that unfold during this terrific season. A strong spoiler warning for those who haven’t watched or finished the season, though – we go pretty deep and don’t want to ruin anything.
COLLIDER: How much of the story did they tell you beforehand, and how much of that was explained after you had signed on?
AMELIA EVE: That’s a really cool question. No one’s asked that. When I booked the role, I had no idea. Absolutely no idea what I was walking into. And then when I got there and I had my first meeting with Mike, the director, he gave me a kind of overview of what was going to happen, which was super cool. And that was where I got a gist of everything. We still didn’t get the episodes until, as the weeks were going through and as the months were going past. We still only had the first two or three episodes at the beginning. I had an idea of what would happen, but we didn’t have the script.
Okay, but had you watched the earlier season to know how crazy it was going to be?
EVE: Yes. Yes, I had. I did my research.
Since you didn’t have all the scripts beforehand, were you learning things as your character was learning things?
EVE: Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, because he told me what the overall story would be, where Jamie would end up, roughly, I was able to then make sure that all of her backstory and everything leading up to it, still made sense with the general gist. But in terms of the little intricacies, definitely learning on the fly and filling those in.
When did you know that you were going to be the narrator? Did he tell you that?
Did you meet with Carla to sync up on anything or was it just like, she did her thing, you did your thing?
EVE: No, we definitely collaborated. She’s a divine woman. And again, I don’t know how much I’m allowed to say, but I trust that you’re not going to drop me in it.
EVE: So yeah. Oh my God, that was such a dream. Seriously, such a dream. She was one of the people that I most wanted to work because when I saw the first one, so you can imagine how chuffed I was when I realized.
How good is her accent? How would you rate it, being an actual speaker and obviously, her doing an impression of your voice?
EVE: Oh, yeah. She was brilliant. She had so little time that she had as well and just killed it. She really worked on that and I have a lot of respect for that.
Well, you mentioned Mike. This time around he didn’t direct all of the episodes like he did the first time. How involved was he, day-to-day, in this endeavor?
EVE: At the beginning, again, I had quite a few meetings with him, where we helped plan out how it was going to go. And then, on a daily basis, as the other directors started to step in, he let them spread their wings a little bit and take a bit more space. He wasn’t on set very often as we were shooting, but it was nice knowing that you could drop him an email and he’d jump in. And he was in contact, but not physically there.
Were there any alternate endings that you guys shot or if your character and her love story always ended up in this way in the show?
EVE: No. There were some additional scenes that haven’t been included, that maybe padded out a little bit more. But the overall story is still the same and that was what was planned. So I think it was more a matter of timing and how much they could squeeze in and what made sense to the story.
How was it shooting that stuff? I imagine it was pretty emotional. Both of you guys leave it all on the field in those moments.
EVE: Yeah, it was beautiful. It really was. There was a scene actually, that when I did get a chance to watch it, I was gutted that they didn’t include, because it was a moment where we both just poured our absolute hearts into each other. And maybe they didn’t include it because it was too emotional, who knows? It was beautiful, yeah. She gives a lot and yeah, it was a nice feeling, felt safe.
I wanted to ask you about your experiences with, which are the hidden ghosts. How did that work on set? Did you always know they were there?
Would you be at craft services and there would be a ghost there? I mean, how did that work?
EVE: Legit didn’t know most of the time.
EVE: Especially at the beginning, I would just be, I don’t know, bopping along to the toilet or something, not really thinking. And I’d turn around and there’s just this fucking plague doctor thing. And I’m like, “Jesus, dude.” And he’s like, “Sorry, man.” Yeah, they were genuine.
EVE: Some we knew, but occasionally, you’d turn around and be like, what was that? And then they’d move out from behind a tree or something and you’re like, “Oh my God, what are you doing?” Yeah, it was brilliant. And the ghosts, as the actual people, were so lovely that it was a good, it was a nice little rapport with them.
Did you have a favorite ghost?
EVE: Oh, I do. Yeah. Plague doctor. The guy inside the suit is not the same guy that plays him, when you see his episode. I didn’t meet plague doctor’s face, if you know what I mean. I met the inside guy and he was there every day, diligently and religiously. And he was a sweetheart.
Finally watching the series all the way through, did you allow yourself to sucked in emotionally to your storyline?
EVE: Oh yeah, definitely. I was really lucky in that, so when we were building the character, my character isn’t based in any of Henry James’ other works. And so when I first met Mike, he was like, “I’m really excited about this character because I’ve created her from scratch and I want you to work with me on developing her,” which just was an incredible moment. And so me being the little boffin that I am, went home and started working away on her backstory and how she got where she did, and how she gained the skills that she has, and why she is the way she is, digging away and found these articles that hugely inspired the character about the period and stuff. And I sent it all in a big list of bullet points to Mike and he replied and was like, “I love this and I’m going to put it into the script, verbatim essentially.” And that became a good chunk of my monologue in Episode 6. And for that very reason, I was very emotionally invested in my character because I got to help create her.
When you’re introduced, you’re not the most likable character. But then you become this character that the audience is just so in love with. Was it hard to thaw that character through the season? Was there something that you did to make that transition easier? What was that process like?
EVE: To be honest, I think that effort, that monologue in Episode 6 was the real tipping point and the turning point for Jamie in that, that’s when she allows herself to feel a bit more and to open up and I think, she stops being so guarded to some extent. That was the most words Jamie said probably in her entire life, in one go. And I think that purge of just getting everything out, I think she had bottled it up so much, that as much as it helped her then be able to soften and become more comfortable with everybody around her and open up so much more. It also helped me because that was the most words that me, as Jamie, had said in one chunk too. I think it worked for both of us, if you know what I mean.
Was some of the fun of the character too, taking the traditional Gothic romance and spinning it on its head
EVE: I actually did an English degree. I have studied Henry James in a very different capacity. So yeah, it was very fun being able to switch that up. And what was nice was the mishmash of cultures as well. You’ve got the British, the US, the Northern. There’s different aspects of lots of things going on, which is quite a modern view and mashing all of that together on top of this really classic kind of theme. Yeah, really fun to play with.