When Tilly Keeper got cast in the fourth season of “You,” she had one burning question for the showrunners. Was her character the season’s new murderer?
“They were like, ‘No, no.’ And I was like, ‘I don’t believe you. I think you’re bluffing,’” Keeper says ahead of the show’s Feb. 9 streaming release. “We all had our theories of who it was going to be,” she adds. “I thought I guessed it, and then I was wrong.”
The 25-year-old British actress stars in the new season as Lady Phoebe, a young socialite who gets pulled into main character Joe’s orbit when he becomes enmeshed in her well-heeled friend group in London. Suspicions grow amongst the friends as members of the group are found dead one after another. The twist is that Joe, played by Penn Badgley, is not the only murderer in town.
“Who doesn’t love a ‘whodunit’? I think it’s a really great way to keep people interested and hook them in,” Keeper says of the new season’s murder-mystery setup. “We follow Joe throughout [seasons] one to three and he’s our protagonist. So we have to root for him in some kind of twisted way,” she continues. “Now we’ve brought him into a group of people, and you kind of wait for someone to knock them off one by one, and he truly becomes the anti-hero.”
Keeper notes that she was already a fan of the show and intimately familiar with the story premise coming onboard the project. “My friend told me back when it first came onto Netflix, series one, ‘Oh, you’d love this show. And I was a bit like, what’s it about? She was like, ‘This guy who becomes obsessed with girls and murders them.’ And I was like — what makes you think I’d like that? But I got into it straight away.”
Shortly after learning she booked the role of Phoebe, Keeper found herself on a boat (“I won’t go into context,” she says) with her “You” costar and real-life best friend Amy-Leigh Hickman. The pair were chatting about their characters and theories on the season ahead when they spotted another costar, Charlotte Ritchie, walk by. “We just found out that she had been cast as Kate,” Keeper says. “I was like, ‘I’m playing your best friend.’”
The new season was filmed in London neighborhoods including Shoreditch, Kensington, Billingsgate and Chiswick. “I guess that’s the pro of playing a high-society person — if you’re gonna go on location, you’re gonna be in a really lovely place,” Keeper says.
Keeper describes her character as “Barbie meets a Duchess in the royal family.”
“She loves her pearls, but she loves to sparkle it up,” Keeper says. Her costumes were also heavily inspired by mid-Aughts Paris Hilton. “It’s not a spoiler, but in episode six, every scene I’m in a different costume. Even though it’s all happening on one day, I’m getting changed throughout the day.”
“You” is being released in two parts; the second half of the season will be released in March — plenty of time for the mystery to build. “Everyone’s very intrigued about why I’m in underwear pushing Penn around,” Keeper says. “They’ll just have to wait for that scene.”
“What’s been great about playing Lady Phoebe is that she is a comedy character in a very dark series, and I do like her dark comedy, so that’s been fun,” says Keeper, who got her start in the industry as a young actress onstage and in British soap opera “EastEnders.”
“I hope I get to do more comedy, whether it’s light or sitcom or whatever,” she adds. “I would like to play — I don’t know if you’ve caught on — some kind of crazy villain at some point, but we’ll see. For now, I’ll be the funny blonde.”