When you're a child, your concept of what constitutes a villain is very different from when you're an adult. It's the monster in your closet or under your bed. It's the wicked witch who stands between Dorothy and her home. It is not, however, a fellow classmate hiding in plain sight. But it is those types of villains who can pose the greatest threat of all, which is something Justin Prentice's character Bryce from 13 Reasons Why makes evident after it's revealed (spoiler alert!) that he is a rapist, who sexually assaulted Jessica, Hannah, and undoubtedly numerous other girls viewers had yet to learn about. Prentice recently spoke to Romper about tackling such a dark role and even went so far as to predict Bryce's fate — as well as the fate of the show.
Unless you were familiar with the book, viewers were probably thrown for quite a loop when they watched as Bryce quickly morphed from a typical high school boy into a terrifying sexual predator. After talking with multiple psychiatrists and sexual assault experts, Prentice's goal became to make the character as human — and even somewhat relatable — as possible in order to highlight how this could be "a person we all kinda know and is potentially in our high schools."
"He seems like a preppy, entitled douchebag a little bit, but yeah there aren't too many indicators of him being capable of what he ends up doing," Prentice says. "In real life, in these high schools... they are just normal people oftentimes who feel entitled and they haven't been taught to respect women."
By the end of the first season, Bryce finally learns about Hannah's tapes and seems (potentially for the first time in this life) worried about what this could mean for him, especially now that Clay has his confession of rape on tape as well. And while Prentice has no idea if the show will go on for a second season, he is looking forward to exploring the fate of his character — along with numerous others.
"I would love to have a second season. I myself want to see what happens to all these characters. I'm just as invested as everyone else," Prentice admits, though he does have some thoughts about how things could play out for Bryce:
It could possibly head [in] a Brock Turner route where we see the parents get involved and then you can kind of pair up and you're like 'oh, Bryce is very much the way he is because of his father.'
For those unfamiliar with the case, Brock Turner was a Stanford athlete and convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman back in June 2016. His father became intricately involved in the case and even went so far as to defend his son's behavior, as The Guardian reported. He infamously commented that his son shouldn't have to go to prison for "20 minutes of action." Perhaps Bryce's dad would try to create a similiar defense for his boy as well.
One satisfying scenario is that Bryce would end up paying for his crimes and is subsequently sent to jail. However, considering how some of these real-life scenarios play out (Brock Turner received a reduced sentence of six months in prison when the convictions could've kept him behind bars for up to 14 years), justice doesn't always prevail the way it necessarily should. "Of course you don't want Bryce to get away," Prentice states. "But at the same time, you know, being from a privileged, wealthy, powerful family, would that in any way manifest itself to protect him? Which would suck, but also is realistic in today's society."
And he's not wrong. Money and power have a way of making problems go away, whether they should or not. Prentice also doesn't think that Bryce would show any remorse had he ever had the chance to listen to Hannah's tapes. "I think he would've shut it down," he predicts. "Then just as an extra [precaution], gone to his dad and been like 'hey, this girl's telling lies, by the way. What can we do in case it gets litigious?'"
The truth is, we may never know how Bryce's story plays out, but he still serves as an important cautionary tale of how appearances can be deceiving and how even the most harmful villains can pop up in the most unexpected places — even among friends.