In Netflix’s new supernatural horror The Haunting of Bly Manor – which is loosely based on the work of Henry James (most notably The Turn of the Screw) – one particular highlight is the relationship between protagonist Dani Clayton (Victoria Pedretti) and no-nonsense gardener Jamie (Amelia Eve).
- Read more: The Haunting Of Bly Manor ending explained: what happened to Dani, Jamie and the Lady in the Lake
NME caught up with rising star Eve, one of the series’ most exciting new additions, to find out all about working on the nine-part series as well as getting her to address some of its most pressing and unanswered questions.
How did you work with showrunner and director Mike Flanagan on building up Jamie’s character?
“Mike said of my audition, ‘I really liked what you did – do that, essentially.’ And he said, ‘I feel like Jamie lived a few lives before she even comes to Bly’, which I found very interesting. So I went away and did a load of research on the period and how she gained the skills that she had – she covers a lot of roles within the house – and the majority of that ended up forming who she was. She is sarcastic, blunt and prefers plants to people.”
In the last episode, was that Dani’s hand resting on Jamie’s shoulder?
“Yeah it was, it would be a bit weird if it was a whole new character! It’s the idea that she’s been with her this whole time and that she maybe didn’t know. So this was that one moment, post this cathartic purge, where she’s telling the story to the children without them having to really delve into it emotionally themselves. It is the moment when Dani chooses to come back and let Jamie know she’s been there all along.”
Did Jamie know from the beginning that Hannah (T’Nia Miller) was a ghost?
“We had already started filming before we knew that. We received the first three episodes and then the scripts for episode four and five arrived. So we were figuring out the same things as we went along, but obviously Mike [Flanagan] had given us an overview of what, roughly, was going to happen to everybody. I don’t think I knew that Hannah was dead until I read episode five and I was like ‘OH MY GOD’.”
Why was Jamie the only person in the house completely rooted in reality?
“Both her and Owen really don’t interact with the supernatural very much and I think that’s what helps them. Jamie doesn’t disbelieve that Dani is seeing or feeling these things, but she just doesn’t see them. Jamie acts like this grounding force throughout the whole series, grounding Dani back into reality when she is getting caught up in the supernatural. So it is important that she doesn’t interact with the supernatural, in a way, although she’s very close to it right at the end, in the ‘lady in the lake’ scene, when she sees that something disappeared.”
Were you familiar with Henry James’ original book? Did you read it in preparation for the role?
“I didn’t, because Jamie wasn’t part of any of Henry James’ work. She was a completely new character that Mike had created, and so I could create her myself. I did read a few of James’ short stories that some of the episodes are based on – you can really see how they’re entwined which is just incredible, because Henry James does not write short sentences!”
Was it explained to you how Flora doesn’t remember the story, and why Flora is now her middle name and not her first?
“I see that as a comment on how people deal with grief and how we’re haunted by things but we learn how to adapt. The children have adapted by blocking and separating themselves from this trauma that they’ve been through. The thing about Flora’s name is Jamie wanting to tell them what happened without traumatising them as adults. It’s her wanting them to learn from the story without having to relive it.”
What’s Henry’s double all about?
“Ahh, the shadow Henry… it’s more of a metaphorical exploration of grief and dealing with something and how it manifests if you don’t deal with it. There’s a lot of mental illness discussed very delicately in the show and I think shadow Henry represents where an inner fear or an inner anger ends up coming out in a whole other persona.”
Is there going to be a follow-up series?
“I wish I knew. I would like to think so, because they’ve got a lovely anthology going on now of wonderful stories that Mike is revisiting. So I would love there to be one, and I would love to be part of it.”