Everything You Need to Know About Cruel Summer, the Best New Mystery on TV

What was the most thrilling part about taking on these roles? 

Chiara Aurelia (“Jeanette”): When I initially read the script, there was such a wonderful opportunity as a young woman today to get the chance to explore some drastically different times in this girl’s life, and build some memories and experiences that have led to the person that she is in ‘93, ‘94, and ‘95.

Olivia Holt (“Kate”): Kate goes on a journey and has so many layers. At the beginning, we see what looks like a perfect life. She is this put together sophisticated person, but underneath she has a lot of layers. She’s not just one-note, and the journey she goes on is a traumatic one. To see her evolution from ‘93 into the rebellious stage in ‘95, you get a lot of satisfaction into who she is becoming because she’s finally getting a grip on that person. She’s solidifying what her life is going to look like and how she’s going to take control over the things that happened to her. She’s more opinionated.

Olivia, when we first see Kate, she has some Cher/Clueless vibes going on. Is that something you noticed?

Olivia: I love that reference so much, [especially] for Kate in ‘93 with her style. I love Clueless. It’s iconic. But yeah, she kind of goes from a Cher to a Tai, and it’s interesting to watch that evolution happen. I want to say the tone of the show is a lot like The Undoing, just with the darkness and mystery of it. Everyone is so mysterious. And each episode you find out more about them, which completely shocks you. 

Olivia Holt (“Kate Wallis”) with Froy Gutierrez (“Jamie Henson”) in scenes set in 1993.

Bill Matlock/Freeform

Chiara, how did you relate personally to Jeanette? 

Chiara: I related to her in a lot of different ways. A small part of myself would represent each year for her, between the childlike wonder and excitement in ‘93 and then being on top of the world and the popularity and the boyfriend in ‘94, and then the depression and sadness in ‘95. I think all three of those years perfectly balanced each other out and allowed such a great complex human to be created.

All three years are so distinct, yet you filmed some of the years in the same day, right?

Chiara: Right. We would start a day sometimes in ‘95 and then jump to ‘94, ‘93 and then go to ‘95 again. It just depended on the day of the week.

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