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You Star Charlotte Ritchie Has the Best Theory About What Joe Told Lady Phoebe

The actor opens up about playing Kate on the hit Netflix series, working with Penn Badgley, and more.
You. Charlotte Ritchie as Kate in episode 410 of You. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023
Charlotte Ritchie as Kate in season four of YouNetflix

In You season four, part one, we were introduced to a new love interest for Penn Badgley’s Joe Goldberg: Kate Galvin, a no-nonsense, self-proclaimed “icy bitch” who is fiercely loyal to her friends and surprisingly suspicious of Joe’s motives. Played by Call the Midwife and Ghosts actor Charlotte Ritchie, the character creates a natural tension because she is so capable of uncovering Joe’s secrets. She’s a woman who, as showrunner Sera Gamble told us, is more like Peach in season one, “someone who would’ve been dead at midseason.”

For Ritchie, it was liberating to channel someone who doesn’t care about being likable. “A lot of people get criticized for expressing anger, but it’s a very sort of enlivened energy and can be quite helpful,” she says. “It’s often made to seem sort of unappealing or unattractive, so it was quite interesting to get to find out where that comes from and feel it.”

So, is Kate Joe’s perfect match? Or will she be the one to finally expose him? As we’ve seen before on You, it doesn’t usually end well for women who get entangled with the serial killer. Then again, if anyone can outsmart Joe, it’s her. We won't spoil Kate’s fate here, but we did check in with the actor who plays her to learn more about what it was like working with Badgley on set, her theory about what Joe told Lady Phoebe, and more. Get to know Charlotte Ritchie, below. 

Penn Badgley as Joe Goldberg and Charlotte Ritchie as Kate. 


Glamour: Part one is out. Now we’re getting part two. What has the reaction been like so far?

Charlotte Ritchie: I try as much as possible not to scroll social media and find out everything, but the general response from people I know is that they’ve really enjoyed it. It was a treat for me to watch it, to see it all come together. They do such a good job; I can’t believe it. I think it was a change of tone for the show, so there were going to be some specific responses from people, but it’s been pretty good.

Now that you’ve seen the show, is there anything you would’ve done differently or prepared in another way?

Oh, I don’t know. I mean, no. I’m trying to work out how I feel about regrets and things. Even if I do have any, I don’t know how useful it is to think about. Obviously I always think I could do everything a lot better. The dream would be that you do something and then you get to do it for real again, but with all of the knowledge that you have having done it. But that’s just not how life works at all. I was very grateful to have the opportunity to progress Kate anyway. The fact that she becomes more vulnerable [as the season goes on] was a pleasure to do. It was hard to make her so sort of mean all the time. 

We interviewed showrunner Sera Gamble ahead of the first half of the season, and she said that out of any of Joe’s previous love interests, she felt the closest to Kate. Did you know that? And what your conversations like with her about the character?

That’s interesting. I think she’s doing herself a disservice there, but only because of the first Kate that we meet. No one wants to be just like her at the beginning. But I mean, that’s quite cool. It must be nice in some ways to write a character that feels close to you because there’s a depth of knowledge there. Kate definitely feels like a fully rounded person, in my head at least. By the end you really get a sense of her being…I actually feel we haven’t really seen the real depth of her because she’s so closed off, so unable to express emotion.

The bit for me that’s the most moving, or the most insightful, is when she tells Joe that she was told to hide all of her feelings. That is the ultimate tool for kids to be repressed—to tell them, “Don’t feel anything.” I mean, what do you do with that? How do you calibrate any of your feelings if you’re not allowed to have any of them? She’s completely unable to express them. So even in that scene in the final episode, when she’s in the hospital, anyone else would be like, broken. There’s a tiny—she’s stoic, basically. I do admire that, but I don’t admire her choices in a romantic partner for sure. I don’t think Sera has that in common with her.

She said specifically, “I don’t have a secret very wealthy family that I know of, but I like the idea that [Kate is] a little offended by the notion that she has to be nice all the time, that she’s more interested in getting things done than in constantly assuaging the egos of everyone around her. It felt like we had earned getting to explore a woman who is more like Peach in season one, someone who would’ve been dead at midseason.”

Wow. Yeah, I love that. That’s brilliant. That was definitely a big part of it—not having to be likable—and I have to say it was very liberating to play. Especially when you are a little girl, you want to be liked. You feel like that’s your currency, how sweet and charming you are or can be. And it is really cool to play someone that doesn’t care at all. 

Where did you feel the most connected to Kate? 

I found it easier to look in with her in the moments where she’s connecting with Joe. Let’s just say the nice version of Joe that she receives, the sweet moments of humor and connection where they really look at each other and see each other. That was, in some ways, more satisfying because that’s where her humanity and sense of connection comes through. 

What was the hardest part of Kate to tap into?

The hardest part was her anger. Again, it feeds into that thing of trying to keep yourself level or be calm. It’s quite an interesting one in general for people, but definitely for women, in understanding how to be angry, how to channel that, and where it goes when you are. A lot of people get criticized for expressing anger, but it’s a very sort of enlivened energy and can be quite helpful. It’s often made to seem sort of unappealing or unattractive, so it was quite interesting to get to find out where that comes from and feel it.

Lukas Gage as Adam and Ritchie as Kate in You season four


I read that you had the best theory about what Joe told Lady Phoebe.

I said it in an interview, because it’s something that I think someone had said to me like a few days before. What I said was basically, “Does it make you happy?” I suppose it’s quite a good credo to go by. I guess not everything good makes you happy all the time. Some things that are worth pursuing can make you feel very stressed or anxious, obviously, because they’re worth getting and they don’t make you feel happy while you're in pursuit of them. 

But for Lady Phoebe, she does seem quite happy until she realizes that she’s just not really conscious of herself. But I think it’s important that we don’t know [what Joe said] because you’re supposed to imprint on what you think it would be and whatever’s helpful to you.

So without spoiling too much, it seems Kate is oddly a match for Joe. What do you think works about their relationship?

That there seems to be total honesty and acceptance for who they really are and what they’ve done. The basis of the best type of love, I think, is to be wholly honest about yourself and be accepted for that. You can accept the reality of something without necessarily condoning it or thinking it’s great. I get the feeling that Kate’s not like, “I love that you did that.” She’s not into violence, but she accepts it. So there’s a reality to that. It’s a reality to her that she sees it for what it is. I do quite like that about her. I was about to say she’s not deluded, but then of course she’s living this fantasy sweet dating life with him while he’s being awful. But I think that’s probably the biggest part of it, the honesty and the fact that they’re more considered about their relationship. There’s not a feeling that they’re falling into each other. They’re choosing to be with each other. If we were talking about two other people, we’d say that’s quite healthy, but there’s only so much I can apply your average perspective on a relationship to these two abhorrent and fictional characters.

They’ve done the worst things, but in the context of what makes a healthy relationship, they’ve somehow found it. 

Exactly. Lucky for them.

Tell me about the first time you met Penn. How did you develop that trust with each other to build this relationship on screen?

We were just lucky, I guess, to have so much time to get to know each other. I felt like he was difficult to know at the beginning. It took some time. He was often always occupied, and most of our early scenes together were me telling him to piss off basically. So we didn’t have any reason to or time to hang out together as normal people. And then, there were a couple of scenes we did where our characters actually had a proper conversation, so we ended up spending a bit more time together. We got to start talking and it was nice. It was a slow burn. By midway through filming, when we were doing lots of scenes together, it was lovely. He’s great and so funny for someone who’s very thoughtful and serious, and his part is obviously very serious. I found that a real relief, to be able to do these kinds of scenes with someone who is happy to also go and joke around afterward. That was a way of letting off steam for sure, but it also made the whole thing so much more pleasurable. 

When you found out that you got the part, did you do anything to celebrate or mark the occasion?

I was on my way to work. I was on a show called Ghosts, which is this lovely comedy I do in the UK. I was going into work, and I think I hadn’t really computed it, so I just sort of pocketed it away in my head and then went and did my day’s work. It’s never really until I sort of actually start doing it that I really believe these things are happening. 

It’s so boring, but my first response is always fear. I’m always like, “I can’t do this.” It’s so boring, and I really hope I grow out of it because it’s such a waste of time. But that was definitely a part of it. Poor Sera telling me on the phone. I was like, “Okay.” Anyone else would say, “Yes!” But I was like, “Right, can I do this? Oh, my God.” But sometimes you’ve just got to be real about your response. I find the news of a job initially terrifying, and then I ease into it and then I have a good time. It’s just the way I go.

“I don’t admire her choices in a romantic partner for sure,” says Ritchie about her character.


Do you have anything you do to get past that initial fear?

Yeah, getting really into it, leaning into it is the way that I get away from it. I have to go through the scripts and do a whole thing where I write down everything the character’s doing, the whole character-study stuff. Because if I get out of my head and more into the practicalities of doing it, then I get away from overthinking whether it’s going to be any good or not. First, you’re the worst judge of that. And second, you have no control over how it’s going to go down. You just have to do the job as best you can.

It sounds like you did a lot of preparation for the role. Is there anything in particular that went into playing Kate?

There were some really practical, basic things that I needed to get my head around. One major thing was, and it sounds silly, but it’s always a big part of the character: the clothes that she wears and the fact that she’s always wearing high heels all the time. I just don’t wear them. I wear trainers all day, every day. I dress quite like a teenager. A teenager who doesn’t skateboard but would love to. So it was like, “All right, cool. I’ll see if I can do this.” I had to do a lot of that kind of physical prep to be limber enough to wear and feel confident in the clothes. There’s a femininity to her and a sexuality that I felt like I had to really…to have the confidence to wear a long dress with a slit up the side at a funeral? I was like, “That’s going to take some confidence. I’m going to have to try and get myself in a head space where I feel okay, because it’s not really my go-to mode.” That’s the whole point of being an actor, I guess.

Do you have any superstitions when you audition or on set rituals that you do?

Interesting. No, but I am trying to work on my mindset for sure. In general, and this is going to sound very…well, whatever. I think it’s helpful to be led by a spirit of inquiry and love as opposed to fear and defensiveness. I can’t tell you, the self-consciousness of doing this job was just crazy. To play a part that’s supposed to be attractive when that’s not necessarily your head space, and to be so confident with it, all of that stuff. I would like to do more of trying to get rid of those little fearful voices and things like that by looking at it inquisitively rather than thinking, “Oh, no.” 

And finally, if you could manifest your dream role, what would that look like?

Do you know what? I can’t imagine it right now. I’m so grateful that I get auditions that come up and show me the things that I want to do, because it’s so context based. So much of it is about the character in relation to whoever else is in that show or in that piece of work. I can’t imagine there being a character that sits alone, isolated from that. It’s a lot to do with where they are with other people. That’s always a big part of it. I hope someone will just think of it for me, and I’ll be like, “Thank you.”

Anna Moeslein is the deputy editor of Glamour.