Grace Van Patten understands a thing or 2 about picking functions that draw audiences in. Following her stint as Zoe in the Nicole Kidman–fronted health cult drama 9 Perfect Strangers, the New york city–born starlet is now starring in Hulu’s Inform Me Lies.
A juicy college drama (of which fellow starlet Emma Roberts is an executive manufacturer), Inform Me Lies checks out the all-inclusive mayhem of harmful relationships and is based upon the 2018 book by author Carola Lovering. Van Patten stars as Lucy Albright, a seasoned freshman sorting through a pileup of injury consisting of the death of her dad, her mom’s affair towards completion of his life, and her very first college roomie being eliminated in a hit-and-run the very first week of school In the middle of all this, Lucy succumbs to an older, mystical male on school, Stephen DeMarco, who turns into one of the most developmental relationships of her life—for much better or even worse.
Inform Me Lies isn’t your typical college love story—or is it? It’s simple to gloss over the reality that young harmful love are as regular as they are, due to the fact that they’re a tainted experience many individuals work relentlessly to bury and forget. While some have actually critiqued the program as glamorizing the drama that features harmful love (complicated however similarly hot makeup sex being a huge one), Van Patten plainly explains the series as a cautionary tale, and even an instructional one, that can really teach us what is and isn’t enjoy.
“Lucy was looking for connection,” Van Patten informs BAZAAR.com of each character in the series. “[Stephen] techniques her into believing that she’s getting in touch with him which she’s being heard and she’s being seen. It was the ideal time in her life for him to come into her life—2 individuals who need the very same thing like a puzzle piece at that really particular time in their lives. However that does not suggest that it’s implied to be.”
Ahead, Van Patten information her experience dealing with the series, entering into character together with costar Jackson White, and what shooting the program eventually taught her about her more youthful self.
Your character, Lucy—I do not wish to call every minute unlikeable character, however she’s really self-aware in the sense she understands she’s not the most convenient individual to handle. She’s handling household injury, death, a comprehensive relationship simultaneously. Why did you wish to tackle this character?
Lucy was among the most relatable characters I have actually continued reading the page. The entire mistaken belief of Lucy is that you satisfy her and you truly do n’t know her trauma yet. You do not understand where she’s come from and what she’s dealt with. So she really does seem closed off and disconnected and numb. Once you slowly start learning about her past, you really start to understand her more.
I really love that uncovering of her and that journey that she goes on and that the audience goes on with her and how this boy that comes into her life completely chips away at this emotional wall that she spent years building up in order to protect herself. I found that to be such a relatable story for that age—when you latch onto new exciting feelings and you do not understand why, but it’s the newness and the passion that can be truly easy to mistake for love or connection or whatever it may be.
Watching the first few episodes really brings back those raw emotions of being young and thinking certain scenarios and actions are acts of love but they’re really not. It’s something that’s really important to explore.
Everyone’s been through it, whether it be with a partner or with a friend. Communication is really hard. And if you haven’t taken the time to examine yourself and know what you need and what you want, I think that’s a hard part to overcome in any successful relationship.
For me at that age, I was trying to figure out who I was, but I really just thought I knew who I was. There’s that confidence of, “This is who I am, and this is what I want,” but you have nothing to pull from. The show can be hard to watch, because it’s kind of like watching yourself back at that age.
What did it take for you to prepare to get in character as Lucy? How did you try to embody the essence of what was originally present in the book for the screen?
I had a lot of really long talks with Meaghan [Oppenheimer]—the showrunner—who understood every character so deeply and had such smart things to say about them and their psychology and their journeys. She really helped me to understand Lucy even more.
Something that was really important for me in playing Lucy was to show that strong people, confident people can also be caught up in toxic relationships. It’s not always the weak girl or the victim—anybody is capable of being fooled. I’ve never seen that on a show where a main character who seemingly has it all together and then just completely loses it.
How did you and the rest of the team approach telling this story and making this show without glorifying toxic relationships?
That was really important for us. We really didn’t want to portray the message that this is what love is like and this is what it feels like. I think it was almost to be told as a cautionary tale and, in a way, comfort for people who have been in those situations and can connect to it and hopefully either be happy that they got away from it or inspired to get away from it .
To show this scenario at that age, that type of relationship can be deceiving and appear exciting because it’s new, and all those nervous, excited feelings could also be your body telling you to run away from it. It’s really hard to differentiate those feelings when you’re enamored with somebody. There’s a lot of shame and embarrassment when you’ve been in a toxic relationship like that, because it could make you feel like you are weak, when in reality, it’s the most common situation.
This is a show that’s obviously based on major chemistry between the two lead actors. What was it like working with Jackson James White?
Jackson is amazing. I remember reading the script for the first time and thinking that Stephen is one of the hardest characters to play and how is anybody gonna play this and not seem like a hundred percent a villain. I remember in our chemistry read, he came in and all the words were manipulative and his actions were manipulative, but he brought such a humanity to him and he made him charming, and it made it so confusing.
The goal for the show was that we want the audience to be as in tune with Lucy’s head as possible. We wanted the audience to be just as confused, just as curious, just as off-put as Lucy is so that they understand the obsession and the need for validation and the need for approval. I thought Jackson made that character so much more dynamic than just being a full-blown sociopath.
Was there anything you learned or realized about your younger self playing Lucy?
Playing Lucy definitely held up a mirror to my younger self and made me learn a lot about myself then, which led to me understanding myself more now. I related a lot to Lucy at that age, especially in creating a wall in order to protect myself. I used acting as my outlet to express all of the emotions that I was afraid to express in real life until I gradually realized that vulnerability is truly powerful and beautiful. The more honest I became with myself, the happier I was and the more free I felt. I grew from that, and it gave me hope that Lucy will too.
What I enjoy about this show is that I believe every person can take something different from it, depending on their personal experience. I hope it makes people reflect on themselves and their past, and maybe make it a little bit easier to see the red flags or offer support for people that are in something like that.
I think people forget that. When you break up with someone and it feels like the most isolating thing in the world, and then you think, “Oh, my God, everyone on this planet has been through this! Why is it still the most isolating feeling in the world? ” This has a similar thing. Being in a bad relationship—everyone has, or will, go through that. I hope that it simply provides convenience in the discomfort.
This interview has actually been modified and condensed for clearness.
Bianca Betancourt is the Culture Editor at HarpersBAZAAR.com where she covers all things music, movie, and television. When she’s not composing she enjoys impulsively baking a batch of cookies, re-listening to the very same early 2000s pop playlist and stalking Mariah Carey’s Twitter feed.