In Freeform’s psychological thriller, CRUEL SUMMER, viewers find themselves following two young women: Kate Wallis (Olivia Holt), the popular girl with a charmed life who one day goes missing, and Jeanette Turner (Chiara Aurelia), the nerdy wannabe who is accused of being connected to Kate’s disappearance. All signs point to Jeanette’s guilt, but is Kate really who she seems to be? The series is set over three summers and told through shifting points of view, challenging the audience’s perception as they unravel the mystery while following along to learn how one girl can go from being a sweet outlier to the most despised person in America.
Recently, Nightmarish Conjurings took part in a round table interview with CRUEL SUMMER actor Chiara Aurelia where they discussed everything from playing three different versions of her character, birthday traditions, and more!
How do you prepare for a role where you’re playing three different versions of Jeanette, while also going through three different time periods?
Chiara Aurelia: It can be difficult at times, for sure. I think that it’s about tapping into a different part of myself that I feel like, you know, perfectly reflects what’s going on for Jeanette in ’93, ’94, and ’95. I think listening to different types of music, as well as the different hair, makeup, and wardrobe, and incredible creatives and actors that are around to keep me grounded in what’s going on, are all part of the puzzle for sure.
Was there a certain time period and/or personality that you enjoyed inhabiting the most?
Chiara Aurelia: I think they were all super fun and super cool. I think that’s part of the reason it was so great to tap into ’93 or ’95 because it was balanced out by the other years. I think part of the fun was exploring the different elements of [Jeanette]. I loved ’95. I love ’93. I loved ’94. It was all fun, honestly.
The beginning of Episode 1 shows us a birthday tradition that Jeanette shares with her family each year. This tradition is also used to show how much Jeanette changes over the course of that three-year period. That said, do you have any birthday traditions that you do?
Chiara Aurelia: For me personally, I usually will spend my birthday with my mom. It’s not quite as specific as Jeannette’s birthday traditions, but I definitely think we have our own family stuff and we know my favorite type of cake and all that jazz. In Jeannette’s family, they have a specific idea of what her birthday means to them and it’s interesting to watch it unfold and change as she’s growing up and growing into different years.
With CRUEL SUMMER being a psychological thriller, is that a subgenre you enjoy watching? If so, do you have a favorite film within that category?
Chiara Aurelia: I love the thriller genre, I think it’s great. There’s a lot of genres that I enjoy but for this project, specifically, it was great to delve into a psychological thriller where there was so much complexity to the story and so many twists and turns that were being slowly unraveled through the course of the show, which I thought was super exciting. My favorite 90s thriller was probably Cape Fear or The Talented Mr. Ripley, they were ones that I definitely loved.
Continue to unravel the mystery with new episodes of CRUEL SUMMER every Tuesday at 10 pm ET/7 pm PT on Freeform/Hulu.