By Neha Prakash
Warning: Spoilers for season 3 of You. It's fairly simple in the world of You to be a victim. But being a survivor? That's a rarefied group consisting, even three seasons in, of just one name: Marienne. Despite being Joe Goldberg's (Penn Badgley) object of single-minded obsession in the new season, Marienne, played in the hit Netflix show by Tati Gabrielle, becomes the one who got away—literally and romantically speaking.
Here, the actress, who imbued her character with a relatable fallibility and quiet inner strength, chats about her character's arc, what may be in store for Marienne in future seasons, and why Joe should watch his back in France.
Marie Claire: How did the role come to you? Were you already a fan of You?
Tati Gabrielle: In September or October of last year I was in Spain shooting another project. I had fully intended, once I finished that project, to take a month off. But my agent said, “They want you for this Greg Berlanti project.” I asked, “What is it?” They couldn’t tell me so I said no. Two weeks later, my agents came back again and said, "They still really want you. All they want you to do is do a chemistry read with Penn Badgley.” And then I knew what it was. I said yes because I was a super big fan of the show...Sera [Gamble, co-creator and co-executive producer] and [director] Silver Tree told me more about the character—her story, her arc—and I was fully pulled in.
MC: Did they lay out all the twists and turns? Or did you learn those as you started filming?
TG: To a certain extent, I wanted to know [what happened] as the episodes came. But [Sera] did tell me that Marienne would be Joe's obsession of the season. I knew her story with [ex-husband] Ryan, but I didn't know yet that Ryan was going to die or how.
MC: What did you think was the most jaw-dropping twist?
TG: Love's death—I was very mind blown by that. As well as all of the times I hit a death that Love did. I was like, What is happening? She's going off the rails. Especially [when she hurt] Theo (Dylan Arnold). When I got to that, I was like, No! Not the kid. He's so innocent.
MC: Speaking of Love (Victoria Pedretti), let’s unpack that scene between you and she, when she threatens Marienne and tells her the truth about Joe. How did you find common ground, in the scene, to connect with her character despite feeling threatened?
TG: When I first I read that scene, I loved it: the idea of two women having a conversation over something that is very touchy and being able to uplift each other through that and save each other through that...Marienne at the top [of the scene] really thinks [Love] is a woman scorned. While clearly Love has a mission...Marienne is empathetic to Love's position. I don't think that Marienne wanted someone to be hurt in this process. [Through the conversation] she sees Love’s fear, the pain, and what she reads as almost Stockholm Syndrome. Everything else goes out the window and it becomes, “You deserve better. You deserve to give yourself the love that you're searching for.”
The message being sent is we as women, period, should be strong with or without a man. And, at the end of the day, you can never love someone else properly until you love yourself. I feel like that's what Marienne was not only trying to stress to Love but even stress and remind herself.
MC: Do you think Marienne suspects Joe in any of the actions of the finale? Or do you think she believes the story that Love committed a murder-suicide?
TG: I feel like once Marienne left [Love and Joe’s] house that night, she was gone. So on one hand, I don't know that Marienne would even know what happened after she left [town]. With everything that's happened in Madre Linda—Ryan dying, coupled with all of the information that Love just gave her, with the desire and desperation Marienne has to make a good life for herself—I feel like she would have been like, We're just gonna forget about that and not turn and look back.
But if she had seen the news, I do feel like she would have suspected it was Joe. Because Marienne is wise to most things. Even if she were skeptical of the information that Love gave her, [after] everything that had happened, it would’ve been just a little too close for comfort.
MC: Have you signed on for the fourth season?
TG: I don't know if I can tell you that. So I'm gonna say you have to ask Netflix!
MC: If your character does show up in a future season, where do you want her to be?
TG: I think she’s in France—like what she talks to Joe about in the library. I would just want her to find the peace she's been seeking; be able to do art and let her kid have the most free and lovely life. I feel like she would be an art teacher or a commissioned artist. I do very secretly want her, if she does come back, to be the one to foil Joe.
MC: Do you think Marianne still has feelings for Joe? Were they ever genuine feelings?
TG: I do think her feelings were real. She is attracted to toxic situations and toxic men but that doesn't negate the feelings she carries; it just means those feelings are toxic. And despite what Love told her, I don't think it's that easy to fall out of love with someone. So I think she still carries those feelings, even when she left [Madre Linda].
MC: If they do reconnect in the fourth season, could you see Marienne going back to Joe and falling back into those patterns?
TG: I don't think she would go back [to him]. I think she would be able to, at that point, have the confidence, respect of self, and foresight to be able to know [not to]. I feel she'd be like, “I love you. I wish this worked out differently. But, you are a psychopath and you are not good for me or my child or even this world.”
MC: Do you think there’s any possibility Marienne could go down for the death of her ex, Ryan, in season 4?
TG: That's interesting. I hadn't even thought about that. Like what if Joe basically turned on her and pinned the [death on] Marienne? That would be wild. It would be interesting for Joe to try to flip it, if Marienne starts threatening him in any way, to save his own self. But at the same time, I feel like if Joe's feelings for Marienne were real, that wouldn’t happen, and he would still continue to protect her. He'll probably have her locked in a cage, but he'd protect her.
MC: A big part of Marienne’s arc is shedding light on how Black women are not protected in society and how the legal system sets them up to fail. How much of that was already in the script and part of her story?
TG: It was already in the script. But something I asked [the showrunners] was, “Is this something you guys will truly honor and give space for?” They said absolutely. It was a big part of the reason why I wanted to take on the role. I felt like there were a lot of issues Marienne addresses that, especially in the time we're in now, needed to be addressed.
And through the course of shooting the show, I was very thankful to Sera for always being open to that conversation. [If there was something in the script that] didn't feel right, or didn't feel that me as a Black woman would do or say, she was always open to speaking about it. Penn, too. On set [he'd ask], “Does this feel right to you?” It was very rewarding that they were so progressive in that way.
MC: Can you recall a scene or line where you had one of those conversations?
TG: In the “Missing White Woman Syndrome” episode, Marienne gives a monologue when she says, “The public goes crazy and the rest of us have to fend for ourselves.” It originally read, I believe, “the rest of them have to fend for themselves.” And I requested to change it to “us” because I was still in that conversation—I'm a Black woman as well...It was a small change but something I felt was very important and pertinent to keep solidarity within the community.
MC: Was there anything you brought to the character to make her feel more well-rounded as a person?
TG: In terms of her being an addict and a mother fighting for her child, those were things I very much wanted to make sure were full in the character. [I wanted to make sure] you could actually see the trauma and damage [through] her ticks.
There’s a locket she wears—you never see it open—but I requested to put a picture of Juliette inside of it. You'll see Marienne at several different points, specifically heightened points where she's anxious about her child or anxious about another child or being challenged or questioned on her motherhood, she'll fiddle with her necklace as an anxious tick.
MC: Did you base Marienne off of anyone in particular?
TG: One thing that popped into my head a lot was Zoe Kravitz and Lisa Bonet. Not necessarily them but their vibe, in the way Marienne carried herself. A Bohemian sort of nature.
MC: Had you read the books before taking on the role?
TG: I did not read it beforehand. [The show creators] gave me the most recent book that Caroline [Kepnes] put out that does include Marienne. So I’m planning on reading it.
MC: What’s your dream next role? Would you want to play a Love Quinn murdery type?
TG: I would think it would be super fun to play a psychopath. I would love to do that at some point. I've also always wanted to play a schizophrenic or an in-the-moment addict. Someone whose mind is completely altered or so completely away from our reality. That would just be a really fun acting challenge.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
As Marie Claire’s senior news and culture editor, Neha oversees all things entertainment, pop culture, and current events from TV shows and movies we can’t stop bingeing to celebrities we can’t stop 'shipping. She loves a hot-take, has an extensive knowledge of award shows, and knows the astrological signs of everyone in the royal family and the 'Friends' cast. Before joining Marie Claire, she held positions at Glamour, Brides, Condé Nast, and Mashable, and is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism.
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