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Mary Holland and Shelley Hennig on overcrowding peacocks and working with ‘dreamboat’ Kristen Bell in Netflix series

production still from The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window
The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window is Netflix’s latest murder mystery. Pic credit: Netflix

When Netflix first dropped the trailer for their murder mystery miniseries The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window, everybody was thinking the same thing: Looks interesting, it’s fun to see Kristen Bell back on the small screen, and wow, that’s a long title.

The show, spanning eight 30-minute episodes, is packed with loads of twists-and-turns, and fun. It tells the story of Anna (Kristen Bell), a woman mourning the loss of her daughter and her recent divorce while living in a tight-knit, nosey neighborhood. She ends up making googly eyes with the hot, single-ish dad across the street, Neil, but things get thrown into a loop when Anna witnesses a murder through a window of his house.

This series stars actors Mary Holland (Happiest Season) and Shelley Hennig (The After Party) in supporting roles. Holland takes on the role of Sloane, Anna’s fun-loving and well-intentioned friend, while Hennig plays Lisa, Neil’s flight attendant girlfriend who instantly picks a bone with Anna.

Monsters & Critics had the opportunity to chat with The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window actors Mary Holland and Shelley Hennig about their experiences on set, which included overcrowding peacocks and working with “dreamboat” Kristen Bell.

Monsters & Critics: Can you each tease the series in three words or less?

Mary Holland: Oh my gosh. Woman, mystery, and wine.

Shelley Hennig: I’m gonna do it in emojis. It’s the wine emoji, it’s the knife emoji, and it’s the wine emoji again.

M&C: Mary, you play the character Sloane who is Anna’s BFF and an art dealer. I love her. She has this really fun, sneaky energy to her. Can you talk to me about some of the best parts of playing this character?

Holland: Hands down, the best part was getting to do so much with Kristen [Bell]. She is an actor that I’ve admired for many, many years, and getting to perform with her, play off of her and be in this intimate relationship with her, it was the best part of coming into work and working on this show every day. But yeah, I think Sloane’s function in the story and my character’s function for Anna is to be this very grounding, steadying presence— who also brings a little bit of levity.

It was fun to play someone who, in Anna’s incredibly emotional and dramatic life, comes in and tries to make her laugh a little bit or tries to give her perspective. So that was just a real treat. She is a very fun character to play.

production still from The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window
Mary Holland stars in The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window. Pic credit: Netflix

M&C: Do you have a favorite onset memory? From working so closely with Kristen?

Holland: I remember the very first scene that we shot together was when I just show up to her house, at the beginning, and I’m like checking in on her and we’re just sort of catching up with each other. Anna is supposed to be in this very emotional state and Kristin and I just had so much fun playing off each other that I remember Michael [Lehmann], the director, had to keep coming in and be like, ‘Kristen, you’re actually not supposed to be in a playful state of mind.’

M&C: That sounds fantastic. I always love to hear positive stories about experiences on site. It sounds like she really set the tone.

Hennig: [jokingly] So, you don’t want to hear my negative stories?

M&C: What was your worst onset memory?

Hennig: Actually, the worst thing that happened was that peacocks were stealing the show. I’m kidding. But, yeah, there were a lot of peacocks. That was hilarious.

M&C: That’s awesome. Wait, were there really a lot of peacocks?

Holland: Yeah, they just wander around. They just, like, they just cross the street.

M&C: You guys are so funny, I honestly can’t tell if you’re joking or not.

Holland: No, they’re there.

Hennig: Just like the show! You don’t know if it’s real or not. It’s real. Same tone as the show, the Michael-Lehmann-tone-king.

M&C: Shelley, you play the character, Lisa, who is such a pivotal character. But we don’t get to see much of her on the screen. What was the biggest challenge you had tapping into this character? And would you like to see her developed more in the future of this TV universe?

Hennig: The biggest challenge I have right now is not spoiling s**t. Yeah. Keep your eye open. There’s more to Lisa than one might originally assume. So you’ll just have to watch the show to see what happens. I think that was a quote from the actual Netflix document that was emailed to us, by the way.

I felt so lucky being in this mix of actors and writers, and this is the type of s**t I watch. This is the type of stuff I watch and I admire. And these are the people that I admire. Kristen is just a dreamboat in so many ways. I just think we have so much respect for her as an actor and as a person.

M&C: Oh, that’s so fun. Last question to wrap things up. Mary, what was your first reaction to reading the script? And what really drew you into the story?

Holland: Oh my gosh, I love this genre. I’m really into psychological thrillers. I love women. I love murder mysteries. This is a genre I’m very familiar with as a fan and a reader, and a viewer. So, the comedy of this show is so nuanced and it’s very sneaky comedy.

It is very masterful what they’ve done here because it’s this amazing balance of absurdity and comedy, and true suspense and drama, and you’re also wrestling with themes that are very relatable: grief, starting over, self-doubt.

It’s a dream to get to be in a show like this that balances all of these different aspects and does so in such an entertaining and fun way. I was immediately so over the moon for the script and the role and just thrilled to be a part of it.

The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window is currently streaming on Netflix.

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