The golden-haired Guinevere Beck (Elizabeth Lail), the fiery Candace Stone (Ambyr Childers), the erratic Love Quinn (Victoria Pedretti)—all of the previous leading ladies of Sera Gamble’s juicy Netflix thriller You, who played love interests to its central figure, Penn Badgley’s brooding and murderous Joe Goldberg, have met a sticky end. So, it seems safe to assume that this will also be the fate of the next woman to enter his life in the upcoming fourth season of the hit show: Kate (Charlotte Ritchie), a steely gallerist who crosses paths with our antihero, now living under the assumed identity of Jonathan Moore, in London.
Except Kate is different—while Joe’s former flames were deeply emotional, she is almost entirely dispassionate and firmly resistant to being rescued. As a serial killer circles her group of friends, she and Joe are drawn closer together, but she remains acutely suspicious of him. You get the distinct sense that he may finally have met his match.
Credit must go to Ritchie, who plays Kate with a delicious, narrow-eyed flintiness and snark. Ahead of the first five episodes of Season 4 dropping on February 9, the 33-year-old Londoner—who’s been a small-screen regular for more than a decade with roles in Fresh Meat, Call the Midwife, and Ghosts—spoke to us about Kate’s fears, You’s inherent campiness, and the memes that are sure to follow its release.
I heard that the first time you tried to watch You, you found Joe too creepy and turned it off?
[Laughs] I’d say I’m a pretty inconsistent television watcher, and I always have to find the right show for the frame of mind I’m in. When I first saw You, I think I was looking for something to watch that would make me feel good. I was like, “This guy’s a creep!” And that was that. But, I knew I had to come back to it because so many of my friends loved it and told me to watch it. I had a lot of things on my list at the time and I just hadn’t had the chance to get back to it.
Did you get a chance to watch the show again before you auditioned?
So, I was approached to audition and, at first, I was a bit hesitant because I was just coming out of a really busy period of working and in the middle of shooting another show. I was slightly overwhelmed. But I decided to audition and found time to go back and watch some of the episodes. I got a sense of the tone of the show and I was so struck by how sharp the writing is, how funny it was, and how layered the performances were. But I didn’t watch all of it in one go—I actually only did that for the first time last week. I didn’t want to get obsessed to the point where I wouldn’t be able to be normal around Penn [laughs]. And also, I didn’t want to know too much about this character, because Kate doesn’t know anything about this guy, so it’s great to be able to start fresh. I’m glad I waited.
Kate is very different from Joe’s previous love interests. Now that you’ve watched the earlier seasons, what sets her apart for you?
The most obvious thing is that she’s chronically unable to express her feelings. Her armour is unbelievably strong, and there are moments when a more well-adjusted person might be upset, but for her, there’s a kind of numbness there. That was tricky for me because I’m quite demonstrative with my emotions, so I had to keep thinking, What am I repressing here? There are a few scenes where she opens up a bit about why she’s like that, and I think her biggest fear is having her boundaries overstepped. You get a sense that there’s maybe something in her past that makes her wary of that. Having said that, she can have a good time—she enjoys drinking, she enjoys going out, she enjoys art, she enjoys sex. She just compartmentalises everything.
You has always leaned into its own campiness. Could you lean into that with Kate, or did you have to play her pretty straight?
Well, Kate’s pretty fucking serious a lot of the time [laughs]. I love that the writers lean into that, and the show is so self-aware and always winking at the audience, but it’s almost like Kate doesn’t get to enjoy that. You get a couple moments of Kate being kind of sardonic or spicy, but not all the time. I think that was important, because I think it’d be very easy for me to lean the other way and overdo it [laughs].
Tell me about working with Penn. I read that there was one point on set when he turned to you and said, “Oh, you’re not like your character!” What made him say that?
I can’t remember, but it was probably something lame, like a fart joke. At that point, we were quite far into filming, but we hadn’t spent that much time together—we’d done a few scenes and in all of them, Kate was telling [Joe] how much she hated him. When Penn said that, I was like, “Um… thank you.” I was grateful [laughs]. It took a while to get to know each other. Also, at that stage, there’s nothing between those two characters—they’re just adversaries so there’s no need for them to be particularly warm or connected. For those scenes, the less we knew each other the better, really. I did get to know him better later on, though, and it’s so great to watch him delve into the darkest parts of Joe. Joe is so completely awful and Penn totally commits to that. You’d be tempted to make him much more likeable, but he doesn’t do that all the time. You believe his anger.
You is always pretty much guaranteed to top the Netflix charts. How do you feel now that the first five episodes are about to drop? Are you ready for the memes?
I’m nervous, but it’s also very exciting to know that a lot of people, hopefully, are going to see it. The fanbase for the show is so strong and loyal, and I know they’ll say exactly how they feel, which is great. And in terms of memes, I think there’s just one gif of me at the moment—it’s from a TV show I did a long time ago called Siblings, where I’m drinking. I got really excited about that one. It’s so lame that I’m describing my own gifs, but it’s a testament to how few I have. So, fingers crossed there’ll be more, though it’s also my worst nightmare to be in loads of gifs. But I’ve made my bed now [laughs].
And very finally, we know that the female leads of You generally don’t fare well. Is there any chance at all that Joe has finally met his match with Kate?
With this show, you just never know—and that’s exactly what makes it so satisfying to watch.