(Warning: Spoiler alerts to follow!) When You first premiered on Lifetime back in September, it didn’t make much of a blip. When Netflix picked it up and aired it at the end of 2018, however, the show took off, and viewers everyone became immediately obsessed, addicted, and were craving more – ironically much like the show’s protagonist/antagonist Joe Goldberg, who relentlessly pursues the object of his affection, aspiring writer Guinevere Beck, no matter what the cost.
Star Penn Badgley has been around for a bit, and has already played the obsessive stalker type, thanks to his role as Dan Humphrey on Gossip Girl. But what about Elizabeth Lail, the newcomer who plays Beck, as she prefers to be called? From hearing almost nothing about her to playing the lead in the most addictive thriller show to hit the streaming service in ages, we wanted to know more about the actress.
Dubbed by various outlets as a “rising star” and “It Girl,” Elizabeth is quite an interesting person and actress - here are 20 things to know about this Texas-born star.
20 She Wanted To Act As A Kid
Like a lot of Hollywood actors, You star Elizabeth Lail was first bitten by the acting bug when she was just a child. While she wasn’t rushing out to auditions on major television sets, she was curious about the stage as she grew up in Asheboro, North Carolina (she was born in Texas). At a young age, she was cast in a small role of a community theatre production of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and pretty much never looked back! Clearly, she knew early on that there was something in this art for that was for her.
19 She Finished School First
Rather than risk putting all her eggs in one basket by jetting off to Hollywood, Los Angeles or New York in the hopes of becoming the next big thing, Elizabeth opted for post-secondary education instead.
After graduating from Asheboro High School in 2009, she attended the University of North Carolina School of the Art, as TV Over Mind reports. This is where she graduated from with a BFA in 2014. The extra time spent honing her craft in an educational setting has clearly done her well and, after completing school, she began to act in low-budget student films, with titles like Model Airplane.
18 She Hadn’t Read The Book
Some actors prefer to read all the source material available to them in order to perfect their characters and really dig deeply into their motivations. Others, especially where remakes and reboots are concerned, would rather not colour their own performance with previous examples. Elizabeth, during her initial audition for the role of Guinevere Beck on You, chose not to read the book – which meant that she definitely didn’t see the ending coming!
“I didn’t fully know what I was auditioning for, and then I started reading the book, and I really didn’t think she was gonna die,” she says, as Vulture reports.
Of course, once she got the callback, she wanted to learn more about her character, and her possible unfortunate fate, and so she did end up reading the Caroline Kepnes novel.
17 She Has A Lot To Say About Beck
Unlike a lot of other characters who have faced similar circumstances, Elizabeth believes You’s Beck is different.
As Your Tango reports her saying, “I think what was most important was that she’s a whole, complex person. She’s not just this naïve bimbo, she’s very smart and what happens to her is not her fault.”
16 She Played Frozen’s Anna In "Once Upon A Time"
Before Elizabeth was cast in You, she was in a decidedly different TV program, that of the fantasy-adventure show Once Upon A Time. As the show progressed, more and more characters were introduced, and the showrunners and writers didn’t limit themselves to classic Disney fare or fairytales. Elizabeth was cast as Anna, the princess from the hit film Frozen, complete with red braids!
15 She Went From College To Primetime In Six Months
A lot of actors and actresses have to do the whole “starving artist” thing for a while, usually scraping by waiting tables or working weird shifts, but Elizabeth was one of the lucky ones.
Her first role came really quickly. After she graduated from college, Elizabeth was working as a babysitter to make money.
But, just six months after getting her BFA, she got the role of Anna, Your Tango reports.
14 She’s Pretty New To Hollywood
Since her first big-time paying gig on TV back in 2014, Elizabeth has only amassed a few credits to her name, unlike her You co-stars Shay Mitchell and Penn Badgley, who have a history in Hollywood.
In addition to Once Upon A Time and You, she appeared on an episode of both The Blacklist and The Good Fight, as well as starred in the horror show, Dead of Summer. She also has a movie to her name, Unintended, that was released in 2018.
13 She Loves Classic Hollywood Icons
Citing her style icons as both Hepburns, Audrey and Katherine, she also has a major fashion crush on Katharine Ross, specifically during the era of The Graduate, which was released in 1967.
“I’ve always thought she was so beautiful,” Elizabeth said in an interview with Untitled Magazine. “I’ve always loved the hair and makeup of that time.” We haven’t really had a chance to see Elizabeth do a retro look on-screen, so maybe this is something to look forward to!
12 She’s Obsessed With Skin Care
That whole no-makeup makeup look? Yeah, Elizabeth can totally pull it off, because her skin is incredible! In the same interview with Untitled, the actress laid down her skin routine, which includes always carrying sunscreen in her bag, specifically Supergoop’s Invincible Powdered Sunscreen for extra protection.
With her hyper-sensitive skin, Elizabeth relies on an Azulene Calming Mask by Mario Bedescu, which she uses every night, as well as Tata Harper’s Resurfacing Mask and the Huxley Secret of Sahara Mask to get her glow on.
The other (totally free) secret? “The better I manage my stress and the more water I drink, the happier my skin is!”
That sounds pretty simple, right?
11 She Relates To Beck
While Elizabeth doesn’t have the stalker problem that her You character Beck has, she does relate to her in a lot of ways. According to Vulture, it’s the human struggle of Beck that drew her to the character. She says,
“I think that at that age – or I should really say, my age – everything is more of a struggle because you’re learning to live by yourself, or have a steady job, and whatever baggage your day-to-day life has obviously influences the weight of your struggle.”
As a young woman also living in New York City, there are a lot of parallels between the two, although we doubt that Elizabeth has the “particularly large ego and low self-esteem” that she describes Beck as having!
10 She’s Vegan
While Elizabeth hasn’t discussed her veganism in interviews, through a little Instagram sleuthing (Joe Goldberg would be proud!), we discovered that she is a vegan who enjoys sharing tasty dishes she’s cooked up for her friends!
Dating back to March 2015, we have the first instance of veganism, in which Elizabeth shared a vegan cookbook she’d just bought, and by May 2016 in the photo above, she was teaching herself how to cook with a recipe for Vegan Mediterranean Sweet Potatoes from The Minimalist Baker!
She’s also a supporter of the World Wildlife Fund and an animal lover, so even if she’s not the next vegan chef, clearly animal welfare is near and dear to her.
9 She Dated A Model
As a new face on the Hollywood scene, it’s not like there are a ton of tabloids to rifle through to determine Elizabeth’s current relationship status. While she appears to be single, we do know that back in 2015, she had a relationship with model and actor Julian Haig, the younger brother of her Once Upon A Time costar and Queen Elsa herself, Georgina Haig.
Julian can hold his own as an actor against Elizabeth as well, appearing in numerous TV shows including OUAT as Prince Gregor, Lucifer and most recently Riverdale as Elio.
8 She’s Laid-Back About Fashion
Though she’s recently started walking red carpets and giving televised interviews thanks to the success of You, Elizabeth is much more laid-back when it comes to her off-duty fashion.
Like Beck, Elizabeth admits that she too “wear[s] clothes and shoes until they are falling apart,”
as Who What Wear reports. Her go-to items? She’s usually in a cozy sweater and a scarf, which she calls “one of [her] favorite accessories (or security blanket).”
7 She Thinks "YOU" Reflects Our Society
Co-star Penn Badgley described You as a “social experiment,” as Televixen reports, while Elizabeth stated that it was a “severe reflection of our current society.” As the two filmed the show, there was plenty of open dialogue on the set, especially in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
The show, which turns many romantic comedy tropes on its head – the cute meet-up, the spontaneous showing up to events, etc. – Elizabeth believes that there is something of value in reflecting back on those so-called romantic ideas, which we have considered to be the height of love and passion for a very long time.
6 She Wanted A Different Ending
With the close of the first season of You, we learn that Joe got rid of Beck and he got her posthumous book published. (Although, recently, there have been internet theories that Beck may not be dead, much in the way Joe’s other ex, Candice, seemed to rise from the grave.) While the ending seemed inevitable, Elizabeth wished that the finale had been different. She told Radio Times,
“The unfortunate thing is, the woman doesn’t win in the end. And I’m so sick and tired of that.”
She would have preferred to have Joe get his comeuppance for all his crimes but, admittedly, Elizabeth understands that Beck’s demise was “much closer to the truth.”
5 She’s A Feminist
If that last quote didn’t give you a hint, Elizabeth is definitely a feminist. Throughout her Instagram, she shares images of herself at the Women’s March and artwork with a feminist message. As Beck, despite her unfortunate ending, Elizabeth praised the network that aired the show, Lifetime, for showing relationships in such a female-positive way. As Decider reports, she said,
“I think there’s so much television where all you see is women’s breasts and women being objectified. So any time I see it the opposite way, I’m like 'yes, thank you.
'Let’s put more of that into the world, because we know we are influencing the world for better or for worse.'
Anything for females’ benefits, I’m for.”
4 She Filmed In The Cage For A Week
For those who have watched (and likely re-watched) YOU, you'll know that in almost the entire final episode, Beck is kept in the cage where Joe has put people before. Surrounded by rare books in the temperature-controlled glass box, she is his prisoner.
Speaking to Vulture, Elizabeth explained that she filmed in the cage for about a week, and that she actually wasn’t too worried about it!
“It sounds weird, but it was like my own private room,” she said. “I could just go in there and quiet my mind and tap into the situation because the doors were closed.
All the crew members were in the dark in the shadows around me. I couldn’t really see anyone.”
3 She’s Not Really Into Social Media
Maybe it’ll surprise you or maybe it’ll make total sense, but Elizabeth, unlike her character, isn’t all that into social media! Sure, she has an Instagram and a Twitter account, but it’s not something she relies on to interact with people, including fans.
In an interview with Decider, she was asked whether or not the show had changed her relationship with social media, and Elizabeth responded,
“I wasn’t that into social media before the show and I’ve always been pretty good at taking time away from it.
[Unlike Beck] I’m giving a skimmed version of myself.”
2 She Had To Attend A Safety Course To Film "YOU"
Remember that scene in YOU when Beck, far too drunk, falls onto the tracks of the New York City subway, only to be heroically rescued by Joe (who later steals her phone)?
Well, for that one scene, both Elizabeth and Penn had to take an eight-hour safety course!
The production team had to abide by the safety regulations of the city, but there is one weird upside to it. For the next year and a half, both Penn and Elizabeth are actually certified to go on NYC subway tracks. Might come in handy the next time someone drops a phone or loses a glove, right?
1 Because of "YOU," She's Not Into Online Dating
With her hesitance to document much of her life online, and as the star of a show that sees her character stalked by her boyfriend, it’s quite reasonable that Elizabeth wouldn’t be too keen on the idea of online dating.
Elizabeth explained to Collider that she’s “glad [she’s] not in the Tinder dating universe” because “you meet a stranger and you don’t know them, so you’re opening yourself up”.
Admittedly, the actress also knows people who have met on the dating app and ended up getting married but, for the time being, it’s not the platform for her, especially in light of YOU.
References: Your Tango, Vulture, Who What Wear, Radio Times, Decider, Collider