Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

All The Secret Roles In The Haunting Of Bly Manor Explained

When Netflix announced that there would be another season of The Haunting of Hill House, the hit horror series created by Mike Flanagan, fans were ecstatic. The new season, called The Haunting of Bly Manor, wouldn't be a direct continuation of the first season, as the Crain family's story was complete. Instead, the second season takes on a new setting and a new story but stays concretely in the horror genre, providing plenty of scares and exploring similar themes to Hill House.

Thankfully, not long after the announcement that Bly Manor was on its way, Flanagan made some casting announcements, and there were quite a few familiar faces included. Just like hit anthology series American Horror Story, the new season would feature a handful of actors from the first season, Hill House, in new and different roles. Ever the secretive creator, Flanagan kept silent on a lot of the specifics of the roles, with no details coming out about them until the show finally premiered on Netflix in October 2020.

Now that everyone's able to stream Bly Manor and experience the heartbreaking horror tale for themselves, the secret roles are all fully unveiled. Here's exactly who's who in The Haunting of Bly Manor, and why Flanagan was so strict about keeping each role secret.

Warning: Spoilers for The Haunting of Bly Manor ahead.

Alex Essoe plays Flora and Miles's sweet mother Charlotte Wingrave

Alex Essoe is an actress with whom audiences may be familiar if they've been following Flanagan for the past couple years. In arguably her first big role, Essoe brought Wendy Torrance back to life the old-fashioned way in Flanagan's film adaptation of the sequel to The Shining: Doctor Sleep, playing opposite Henry Thomas – who plays Uncle Henry in Bly Manor – as Jack Torrance. After that, Flanagan brought her on for Bly Manor, but her role wasn't public until the show's premiere. 

Essoe plays the character of Charlotte Wingrave, the mother of Flora and Miles and wife of Dominic Wingrave. She appears in Bly Manor in flashbacks with her children, and plays a key role in Henry Wingrave's story. Right before she dies alongside Dominic, her husband discovers her long-running affair with his brother, Henry, which results in the birth of Flora. After that, Charlotte is determined to make her marriage work for the sake of her kids, so she breaks it off with Henry and heads off on the trip that would end in her death.

Katie Parker plays the tenacious Perdita Willoughby

If you've watched Hill House, you've definitely seen Katie Parker before, though you might not realize it. Parker goes through quite the transformation from her character in Hill House, Poppy Hill, to Perdita in Bly Manor. That said, they actually have a lot in common, as two conniving women influenced by desire for wealth and attention.

In case the name Poppy's not ringing any bells, she is the ghost of a young woman who was deemed clinically insane and fell in love with William Hill at an asylum. That's very romantic, right? They married and had children, though the whole family ultimately met a dark end at Hill House. Poppy is a very manipulative ghost, and her whispers to Olivia Crain (Carla Gugino) are a big reason why the latter tries to kill her family, to supposedly keep them "safe" from the outside world.

In Bly Manor, Parker plays Perdita, the younger Willoughby sister from the eighth episode, "The Romance of Certain Old Clothes," which tells the story of how the Lady of the Lake came to be. Perdita takes care of her dying sister, Viola, but gets tired and fed up with the job. So, Perdita kills Viola, justifying it to herself as mercy, and attempts to take over Viola's life, along with her husband, daughter, and wealth. She doesn't succeed, and ends up dead and stuck in Bly Manor for years to come.

Kate Siegel plays Viola, who becomes the Lady of the Lake

Flanagan's wife and frequent collaborator, Siegel starred in Hill House as the empathic middle sister, Theo, so it wasn't a huge surprise when Flanagan said she would appear in Bly Manor. Of course, he didn't mention any details about her role, and as you see once you watch episode 8, it makes perfect sense why.

Siegel plays the very important role of Viola, older sister of Perdita. She is the woman who becomes the Lady of the Lake, and the reason ghosts can't move on from Bly Manor. After their father passes away, Viola works with Perdita to keep control of the manor, leading Viola to marry Arthur (Martin McCreadie) and have a daughter, Isabel. When Viola gets sick with "the Lung," or tuberculosis, she lives five years past her expected timeline, mostly by pure force of will.

When Viola can avoid death no longer, she saves all of her wealth in a chest and makes her husband promise to protect it for Isabel until she is older. It's a powerful promise that even death can't break, and when Perdita tries to steal her sister's riches, it doesn't end well for her. Viola is the key to the mystery of Bly Manor, and her story, along with Perdita's, must be kept a secret until the eighth episode, when the house's history finally comes to light.

Carla Gugino stars as an older version of the gardener Jamie

Olivia Crain's back from the dead. Gugino's appearance in The Haunting of Bly Manor was a total surprise for fans. After Bly Manor was announced, Gugino, who played the mother in Hill House, was asked if she would be in the new season. In an interview last June, she vaguely stated that, "Any opportunity where a schedule allows for us to [work together], we will, and I would be honored to." There was no news after that, leading many to believe that she wouldn't be in Bly Manor after all

It turns out Flanagan fooled us all once again, and Gugino's face is the first thing audiences see in episode 1 of Bly Manor, "The Great Good Place." Gugino is a guest at a wedding, and when they start talking about ghosts, she offers to tell a ghost story herself. As the narrator, Gugino's character tells the whole tale of Dani, the kids, and Bly Manor, and it isn't revealed until the final episode that she is in fact a future version of Jamie (Amelia Eve), the gardener who falls in love with the American governess. She recounts her whole grand love story to an older Flora and Miles, who no longer remember their childhood at Bly Manor. Though Dani may be gone, Jamie clearly will never forget her, and she still leaves the door to her room open at night, just hoping one day she'll walk back in.