Before she was called in to play the latest victim love interest of Joe Goldberg on Netflix’s buzzed-about drama, You, Tati Gabrielle just wanted to take a vacation. A long one.
She’d spent the past couple of years living through Armageddons and temporal anomalies on the CW’s sci-fi series The 100, and honing her magic as one of the dark, Satan-worshipping Weird Sisters on Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. She was due for a break. But then, when the opportunity to play one of the few women who survive Penn Badgley’s murder-happy, love-struck-stalking sociopath comes knocking, you can’t just say no.
As Marienne, a Black single mother and recovering addict living in an affluent California suburb that’s so “coastal elite” you’re dying to reach out and burst its bubble, Gabrielle joined the show when it was in what fans suspected might be its final act. After all, how many times can we watch a good-looking white man kill women and still justify swooning over him? Marienne was different from Joe’s past obsessions – broken yet confident, driven by a purpose (to reunite with her daughter), and dreaming of an escape from Madre Linda. They had nothing and everything in common but when Marienne escaped to Paris with her daughter in tow while Joe literally set fire to his old life, fans thought maybe, just maybe, this is the one who got away.
Season four – which is split into two parts – is here to correct us on both accounts. Not only is this show not done with reinventing itself, but Joe is certainly not finished with Marienne. We chatted with Gabrielle about returning to You, her relationship red flags, and why Penn Badgley is so damn good at playing a psychopath.
Were you surprised to get the call back this season?
I actually knew when I signed on in season three that I’d be coming back for season four. But they didn’t give me anything about what season four was going to be. So I spent the year thereafter just trying to see if I could get inside of [showrunner] Sera Gamble’s mind. She told me two months before we started filming season four and I was like, “Of all the ideas that I tried to put together, I would’ve never [thought of] this.”
What’s Marienne been doing since season three ended?
So we start season four about a year later and I think that for that year, Marienne was just trying to get away from Madre Linda and get away from that life. I’m sure that she probably read that Joe and Love both died — that murder-suicide situation. [She’s] just trying to be in Paris and start a new life and just push all of that into the past and forget about it. Which is why I think seeing Joe brought up a lot of emotions. If she wasn’t already over it by the time she actually sees Joe, I think that it definitely took a profound amount of time for her to process and reconcile from any of that. She never got the closure of knowing if any of the things that Love said were true, never got to say goodbye. I do think that she did, of course, really think that he was dead. Because despite what Love told her, there was no evidence yet for her that Joe would’ve faked his death. The relationship they had was the first time I think that she felt seen, and probably the purest love that she had had up until that point. So it’s more heartbreak and mourning.
Did you and Penn have to change how you acted against one another now that Marienne knows the truth about Joe?
Penn and I definitely built a lot of chemistry and solidarity through season three. I think there was this unspoken trust between us in that way, and there wasn’t a lot of discussion over what we were going to do. Mostly it was just me and Penn trusting each other to bring what we felt our characters [would feel] and go from there. I think it particularly helped when we got later in the season that we didn’t have conversations about it because it made for some very real-time moments.
Penn’s very likable on-screen. Do you have to remind yourself when watching him work that the character he’s playing is actually a psychopath?
I never have to. Penn, he’s such an incredible actor and this amazing thing happens when he is Joe, where his eyes go … his eyes change completely. I’ve always been a very sensitive person to just spirits, energies, and things of that nature. So when I’m looking into the eyes of this person … the face never matters. It’s the eyes. There is something there that is chilling.
Like when a shark’s eyes glaze over?
This season especially, you have to catch yourself because it’s easy to root for him to get away with everything.
I know that audiences are definitely affected by that. I’m like, “Penn Badgley is hot, Joe Goldberg is not.” It is a hard thing to get by. I think that Penn does so well at creating such a layered character and he makes it so that Joe wears his wounds, which gives you empathy all the time — like, “Well, he’s just broken. We can help him. He can be fixed.”
What are your personal relationship red flags?
I mean if I’m seeing somebody, particularly like Joe, and they’re checking out a lot, I very much like to ask the question, “Oh, what are you thinking about?” And if that question can never be answered, that’s my red flag. I don’t mind that you’re spacey. Okay, because I get spacey sometimes. Fine. But if you are either hiding or can’t tell me where you’re going when that happens?
I always look for signs of maturity. All women realize at some point in their life that men mature slower than women do. If you’re almost 30 years old and still talking about small bean stuff, about the drama your bros are having with girls, or why you can’t make more money because you have been sitting on the couch playing video games. Things like that. I’m like, “What are you doing?”
Joe’s internal monologue this season would like fans to believe he’s an empathetic character but do you think he’s really capable of empathy?
The only real version of empathy that we see from Joe is his empathy with children. I believe that’s a staple in the knowledge around psychopaths — that psychopaths can care for anyone or anything that they deem weaker than them. And we’ve seen that with Joe every season, from Paco to Ellie to Henry, and even for Juliet. So I think that there’s a version of empathy in there, but most of it is fantasy, it’s learned. Because a psychopath can learn empathy, they can learn what that’s supposed to be or what that looks like. That’s why they’re able to reflect it back at whoever, whether for manipulation or just to move through the world. But no, I don’t think that he actually has a grasp on it.
You’re also in Netflix’s “choose-which-way-you-watch” heist thriller, Kaleidoscope so let’s set the record straight: What’s your preferred color order?
I almost hate telling people my favorite order because I don’t want them to then go and think that there is a ‘best’ order. I like the conversation around everybody getting their different story. But my favorite order is the rainbow order, which is red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, pink, and white. I think the best starting point is red, no matter what way you go.
‘You’ Season 4 Part 1 is currently streaming on Netflix.