X

Zoe Colletti Finds the Humor in Death on 'Boo, Bitch' and 'Only Murders in the Building'

The actor talks about the twist in Netflix's limited series and working with Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez on Season 2 of the Hulu comedy.
by Danielle Turchiano — 
boo-102-unit-01866rc.jpg

Zoe Colletti in 'Boo, Bitch'

Netflix

Warning: This story contains spoilers for Boo, Bitch, streaming now on Netflix. Read at your own risk!


Death has been following Zoe Colletti, and she is more than OK with it.

Of course, that is because it comes in the form of scripted demises in films and on television, which gives her the chance to play characters enriched by emotionally complex experiences. Whether it was her guest-starring appearance on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, her turn in the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark adaptation, recurring on Season 1 of City on a Hill, or joining the cast of Fear the Walking Dead for Season 6, she has leaned into the dark side of mortality.

"From, like, 5 years old to now, I was the cancer patient or in the hospital getting my spleen removed: I was always in the hospital or dying," Colletti tells Metacritic with a laugh about past roles. "There's death in a lot of things I've done, there's a darker tone to a lot of the things I've done, but they've lent themselves to such an array of genres, which is something that I think is super cool — to get the opportunity to play so many different characters in so many different genres at such a young age."

Now, though, her latest projects still have her dealing with mortality, but in a more light-hearted way — even if she is the one dying in one of them. On Netflix's Boo, Bitch limited series, Colletti stars as the teenage Gia, who, at first glance, just seems like the uber-supportive best friend to Lana Condor's Erica, who died in a freak accident after a party and is now lingering with unfinished business. And Gia is uber-supportive — but she is also harboring a secret: She is actually the one who died and is just letting Erica think otherwise.

And in the second season of Hulu's Only Murders in the Building, Colletti guest-stars as Lucy, the one-time step-daughter to Steve Martin's Charles, who turns back up in his life while he (and the rest of his podcasting trio) is suspected of murder. Lucy, too, has her secrets — including that she knows more about the murder, and the Arconia, than one might think.

Although Colletti didn't have a lot of comedy on her résumé prior to these two television projects, she was excited to jump into a similar theme with a new tone and distinct characters.

"Gia is super awkward and quirky, and I think Lucy is very much what you would think of as your typical teenage girl, in the way of just making everyone feel like they're really old and so out of touch with society because [she is] just young and cool," Colletti says.

Colletti admits she did not know about Gia's morbid reveal in Boo, Bitch at the time of her audition. ("I think they didn't want to have that in the breakdown, sending it out to everybody and then everybody knows what the whole twist in the show is," she astutely notes.) While she thought the twist was "awesome" when writers, executive producers, and directors Lauren Iungerich and Erin Ehrlich filled her in on it before her final callback, what caught her interest about the part in a bigger way was the chance to finally play a character with whom she felt she shared personality traits.

"I like to think that I'm the type of person that wants to really think about my family, think about my close friends, and want to make sure that they're doing all right before I think about what I care about or what I want," she explains. "And that is a huge part of Gia's character, if not like the main character arc of the show. And I think it's really endearing; it's a really great quality, and it really makes the show very sad."

It also adds layers to Colletti's performance because, for the majority of the episodes, the audience is along for the ride in (mistakenly) thinking Erica is the one who died. Gia not only put Erica's shoes on her own corpse (which is hidden under a dead moose), but she also doesn't come clean when Erica sees those shoes and decides she is a ghost. Instead, Gia plays along, keeping her fate to herself, and throwing herself into helping Erica get a better life.

After it is revealed, at the end of the sixth episode, that Gia is the one who died, the show flips back through previous moments to show how that all made sense, chief among them being the fact that the majority of the other characters haven't seen Gia for a month. But at the character level, Colletti was seeding those hints through her performance all along as well.

"I wanted there to be the emotion behind it because I know that I'm dead and that is really sad, but I also can't play it so obviously so that the audience will figure it out because we obviously want to drag out people not knowing as long as possible in the series. So, I'd say the most difficult thing was just picking the right balance of adding that emotion to it but not being too obvious," she says.

It was all about preparation, especially for the scenes in which Gia and Erica were interacting.

Gia "is just willing to do literally anything to make sure that you can shine and you can live your best life. She's even setting up to make sure that her best friend has new friends for when she's gone. It's really heartfelt and it is a great commentary on true friendship and wanting to do everything you can for your friends and family," Colletti says.

Gia isn't just there to support her friend, though, as the show gives her her own posthumous love story, too. That's also why  Colletti considers the show "bittersweet": just as her character is really coming into her own, she has to say goodbye.

"I think it sends the message of living your life like you don't know what's going to happen the next day: to make sure that you feel confident that you fulfilled everything that you want to do — not being afraid to just be yourself — because you don't know how much time you have," she says.

Colletti had some down time between production on Boo, Bitch and Only Murders in the Building, which proved fruitful in shedding the loss of Gia in order to more fully slip into the fresh presence of Lucy.

And Lucy really is fresh on Only Murders in the Building: a fresh face and, more importantly, a fresh pair of eyes on the murder case.

The character loomed large before she stepped on-screen because of what she represented to Charles: a chance to have a family. When things did not work out with Lucy's mother romantically, he lost contact with the kid, which has lingered in his mind as a regret. Reconnecting with her now is something he really wants, but he is concerned about her getting caught up in the investigation and being put in danger.

"She's super excited about helping out," Colletti says of her character actively wanting to be involved with the case. "She has a rejuvenated perspective because your main trio is on their second season of their podcast, and they're used to doing it. But I also think a young eye is also good too with just figuring things out. She also knows the building very well. So, there's aspects that she helps out with just from prior knowledge of the literal mapping of the building."

Colletti's entrance into Only Murders in the Building allows the young actor to dive even deeper into comedy than Boo, Bitch did, simply because of her scene partners, who, she shares, were always "spitballing so much improv that it's beyond hilarious to even just be there."

"I'm not going to question Steve Martin or Martin Short on what is funny because they created comedy, but it is a very collaborative set," Colletti says. "Lucy's really, really giddy about getting the opportunity to be around Mabel and be around the case. Mabel is so young in comparison to the others, and that's such a funny dynamic, and then to have somebody come in that's younger yet that makes Mabel feel old is such a funny dynamic as well," she says.

While death has been following Colletti, now, too, are laughs.


Boo, Bitch is streaming on Netflix; Only Murders in the Building is

.


Get to know Zoe Colletti:
Colletti has flipped between film and television for the past 15 years, working one everything from TV's Rubicon (Metascore: 69), City on a Hill (65), and Fear the Walking Dead (63), to the 2014 film adaptation of Annie (33), Paul Dano's directorial debut Wildlife (80), and the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark franchise (61). Up next she can also be seen in Gigi & Nate.