'Maxton Hall' star Harriet Herbig-Matten on record-breaking series and what's in store for Season 2: 'Expect a lot of drama'

Herbig-Matten says the show's success "doesn't feel real."

Harriet Herbig-Matten stars as Ruby Bell on Prime Video's record-breaking series, Maxton Hall — The World Between Us. (Amazon MGM Studios)

Harriet Herbig-Matten didn’t know Maxton Hall would become an overnight sensation. But in a matter of weeks, the series, in which she stars, catapulted into the spotlight as one of streaming’s biggest hits.

“It doesn’t feel real,” she told Yahoo Entertainment.

The 20-year-old actress from Munich, Germany, immediately captivated fans of Prime Video’s Maxton Hall The World Between Us as Ruby Bell. Soon after the show’s May 9 debut, the German-language teen drama made history as the streamer’s most-watched international series — a record that Herbig-Matten admits is “really hard” to process. But with a growing fanbase and second season already underway, Maxton Hall’s breakout star is just getting started.

While it’s hard to imagine anyone else as Ruby, Herbig-Matten didn’t initially know she was in the running to play the Oxford-bound teen. In fact, during the initial auditions, she was under the impression that she was auditioning for something else entirely.

“They made a secret out of it,” she said. “They didn’t say that it’s about the [Mona Kasten book series]. It was called Stuart College, and Ruby was called Elizabeth. James was called Jonathan. Just in my last audition, I [learned] it was about the books.”

Based on German author Mona Kasten’s 2018 novel Save Me, Maxton Hall explores the unwitting romance that blossoms between scholarship student Ruby Bell and her narcissistic millionaire classmate James Beaufort. While they couldn’t be more different on the surface, Bell and Beaufort go from enemies to lovers after they’re forced to plan a school function together.

After landing the role, she began to work on getting to know her character more deeply. With the help of an acting coach, she focused on developing her connection to Ruby.

“I personally work a lot with my emotional world. Experiences that I can give to my character. And then you build up a character, like where she’s coming from and [her] relationships between other characters,” she explained. “I was really interested in [depicting] a love story with all these emotions and intensity.”

With Season 2 in production, Herbig-Matten teased what the future holds for James and Ruby. Following the tragic cliffhanger in the Season 1 finale, fans are desperate to know if the star-crossed lovers will get their happy ending.

“You can expect a lot of drama and ups and downs,” she said. [James] is changing a lot and working on himself. [Ruby] is doing her thing and she’s not changing for him. She’s [setting] boundaries and that’s really important.”

Harriet Herbig-Matten and Damian Hardung in
Harriet Herbig-Matten and Damian Hardung in "Maxton Hall — The World Between Us." (©Amazon / Courtesy of Everett Collection

The sophomore season will also spotlight Maxton Hall’s supporting female characters.

“We focus a lot on the female friendships with Lydia, Lin and Ember,” she said. “I’m really happy about it.”

Maxton Hall’s success is undeniable. In addition to becoming Prime Video’s biggest non-U.S. original launch and topping the streamer’s charts in more than 120 countries, the show's renewal came eight days after its debut. On social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok, the series is being grouped with fellow Prime Video hit The Summer I Turned Pretty and Netflix’s My Life With the Walter Boys as the “big three” of modern coming-of-age shows.

“It doesn’t feel real,” Herbig-Matten said. “I’m not changing and my friends are not changing. My surroundings are changing. I think it’s a huge privilege. It makes me proud that people love it, that [people can see] what we’ve done and what we’ve felt. But it’s also overwhelming.”