Back in the early 2000s, A Series of Unfortunate Events took the literary world by storm with enthralling tales of mystery and danger. The children’s series, penned by Daniel Handler under the pseudonym Lemony Snicket, followed the misadventures of Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire, three tragedy-prone siblings placed in the care of their sinister uncle after their parents die in a fire. On Friday, Jan. 13, Netflix unveiled its TV adaptation of the beloved novels. Neil Patrick Harris stars as the sadistic Count Olaf and there are many other notable names in the cast: the actor who plays Violet in A Series of Unfortunate Events, Malina Weissman, is a relative newcomer, which only makes her performance more impressive.
Weismann previously scored supporting turns in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Supergirl, and Difficult People – most often as the younger version of an older castmate — but this marks her first major on-screen role. Weissman tells Bustle she was familiar with the story before signing on, but was most drawn in by her instant attachment to the character. “I could connect to [Violet] a lot,” she says. “I didn’t want to put a twist on her, but I wanted her to be sort of like a role model for everybody, so people could look up to her as a character that stands up for what she [believes in].”
In the books, Violet is portrayed as curious, driven, and smart. She’s imaginative at heart, and often dreams up ideas for new inventions. As the eldest of the Baudelaires, she’s also their de facto leader, and she must remain strong and poised as they shuffle between house after house of ill-fated guardians.
Though the travails the children face are often far-fetched, Weissman believes there’s a universal takeaway. “I think, especially teenagers or kids, they see you say something to your parents and your parents don’t really understand you," she says. "In the show, basically the kids are the smartest people, so I think kids can really relate and say like, ‘I’ve talked to my mom about this once and she didn’t understand a thing I was saying.’”
It’s that deeper reading that makes Weissman so perfect for the part. As a young girl making her way through the entertainment business, she’s also still growing up. The implausible obstacles her character encounters may not be the kind she — or anyone else, for that matter — has overcome in her own life, but she can tackle them with the same sort of resilient, youthful mindset that Violet would.
Additional reporting by Samantha Rullo