In the latest series, I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER, one year after the fatal car accident that haunted their graduation night, a group of teenagers finds themselves bound together by a dark secret and stalked by a brutal killer. As they try to piece together who’s after them, they reveal the dark side of their seemingly perfect town—and themselves. Everyone is hiding something, and uncovering the wrong secret could be deadly.
Hot off of Episode 6 of I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER, Nightmarish Conjurings’ Sarah Musnicky hopped on the phone with Cassie Beck. Tackling the memorable role of Riley’s mom, Courtney, Beck had the challenge of combining comedic bluntness with vulnerability, especially in the latest episode. During their phone call, Sarah and Cassie spoke about tackling the role of Courtney, choreographing certain scenes while on the hunt for Riley, and the subtle importance of the role in our current climate.
As a general disclaimer, this is a spoiler-heavy interview. So, if you have not watched I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER yet on Prime Video, turn back now. Turn back before it’s too late.
To start things off, what drew you to the role of Courtney?
Cassie Beck: Oh, my gosh. The G string underwear. [laughs] 100%. I was like, Sign me up. That’s in the script, actually. That whale tail is sticking out of her jeans is in the script. And I was like, Yeah, for sure, that that’s definitely the character I want to play. I mean, I just love her sass. I love her really not giving very many effs about anything. She’s so fierce. I love a character that can say what they mean. And also, she’s limited. She doesn’t say a lot, which I also kind of really loved especially for television and film. This idea that she is processing so much internally. I love that. But then, the arc that she goes on. I think Courtney ends up being a bit of a surprise. She’s not who you really think she is maybe in the first couple of episodes. And so, just for an actor, that’s the dream.
I was gonna bring up the fact that, in the beginning of the series, she’s sort of like a red herring almost for people. But also, in thinking about her character. it also forces us to confront our internal bias towards someone like Courtney, who’s, unfortunately, lower class, she doesn’t have many options. So, she’s just fascinating as a viewer to watch.
Cassie Beck: Oh, I agree. She’s on the lower socioeconomic scale. She’s a single parent, probably a teen mom. She’s sacrificed a lot. Scrappy. And when we’re talking about a horror series, you have a real survivor here, who’s beating all the odds and it’s just her and Riley. That’s her life. It’s her and Riley. And she’s not a great housekeeper, and she’s not a good maid, but she works. She does what she can to provide a roof over her head. And I imagine probably gave up a lot of her growing up to choose to have Riley and to raise her and, and keep her safe. And so, kind of up against the challenges of the horror series, where you’re trying to survive, and you’re trying to keep your kids safe. It’s particularly heartbreaking.
In episode six, how we get to see the motherly love she has for Riley, because I was the daughter of a single mom until around the age of 15, and I don’t think people understand the kind of connection you develop between the single parent and the child, and when we know something’s wrong.
Cassie Beck: Yeah. Hopefully, we were able to portray that a little bit because I totally agree. I do. It’s a very real thing. And I had a whole backstory for myself about who her dad was, how I got pregnant, the things that I sacrifice along the way. Nobody’s winning a Parent of the Year award in the show, but I do think Courtney, ultimately, in the end, is the one who’s like, no, she comes home every night. She’s not texting me back. Maybe because of her street smarts, maybe because she knows what’s out there and has faced it in a different kind of way than some of the other parents. I just loved that about her. I loved playing that too, and that connection that Riley and Courtney had.
It definitely resonated for me, especially the scene between her and Lennon/Allison’s dad, Bruce. That particular scene between Courtney and Bruce, where you actually see that wall break. I definitely felt that that motherly love for Riley.
Cassie Beck: I think when your kid is missing, I’m not sure. Speaking of horror, I’m just not sure there is anything more horrible or horrific than your kid missing, and not knowing what’s going on. Just the sheer panic and fear of that.
It’s nothing anyone can really imagine until they experience it and there’s no way to encapsulate it even when you’ve experienced it.
Cassie Beck: I think with that scene, in particular with Bruce, all I was channeling was fear. And how does fear come out? I think Courtney is a survivor, but she is also kind of always looking for the shoe to drop. She’s always looking for the threat. I think there’s a lot of fear in her life. And that’s part of why she’s so scary is because that’s her tactic to keep people away and to stay safe is to scare everybody else to death, having a front and be really aggressive. I almost feel like there’s a little part of her that’s sort of kind of always ready for the fight and always expecting it. She almost expects something terrible to happen all the time. And so, in this particular one, with Riley missing, it’s almost like expected, but also, she doesn’t have any true defenses. She doesn’t have anything that she can actually do, except go look for her herself.
And when it came time to film the death scene, I don’t know what the setup was for COVID production on-site, but what were the logistical challenges involved in shooting the death scene?
Cassie Beck: They kind of broke it down. When I read it in the script, I didn’t understand exactly. I knew it was going to be a barbed-wire noose, and I knew it was on a tripwire and I’m like, Ha, how is this gonna work? I don’t understand. Like, what do I trip up? How do I get my head caught in barbed wire? I don’t understand. And then, when I showed up, I just thought it was so ingenious the way they laid it out. It’s some backwoods [level f] creep. A goat trough and a feed trough at that. So really, it was kind of broken down into steps, and we had a fantastic crew and fight choreographer and fight crew and they walked me through everything, really kind of step by step and we broke it down. There’s leaning down at the trough and picking up the phone that trips the wire. The way the wire flies out, and wraps around my neck, falling back, and then, obviously, the drag and up into the air. So, it was all broken down by beats. And I think super effective when I read it on the page that this was gonna happen. I was like, this is the gnarliest thing ever.
It looked pretty gnarly in the final cut.
Cassie Beck: They did a great job. Great job. Our prosthetics team, our makeup team, our stunt crew team, just everybody was fantastic. And I got to drive my own stun in the car. So, that was super fun.
The one where you flipped everyone off?
Cassie Beck: Yeah. The U-turn. So, we had a stunt driver and I worked with her a little bit too, and then they let me have a couple of goes at it myself, which was thrilling. I loved it. I literally walked off that and started looking up stunt driving schools in Los Angeles because I was like, that is the most fun I’ve ever had. I would love to be a stunt driver.
We heard it here first, guys. Cassie Beck is going to become a stunt driver.
Cassie Beck: [laughs] My secondary career. I love it.
I feel really bad for Courtney because, in a way her character is just super relevant to the difference in how police handle cases because it’s not until they find her body that they’re like, Oh shit. I was wondering if you could speak on that a little bit.
Cassie Beck: Well, it’s interesting too, I think especially with the scene with Deputy Doug, when Riley is sitting outside our house sewing her jacket, and Deputy Doug comes up and asks her what she’s doing there, you know? And Mama Bear Courtney comes out to handle this situation and she’s like stay away from my kid and this is where we live and it just speaks to her motherliness too and her maternal instinct to get the attention off of Riley and onto her. She’s stepping out in front of the bus and she’s saying here, you talk to me. I can handle you and Riley takes the opportunity to get away. She’s also an interracial kid, and there are police there on their premises. And she’s like you talk to me. You don’t talk to her and she gets to kind of slip away and that is Courtney’s way of keeping her kids safe too. With the current culture right now, I just feel like a very deep, very subtle, quick scene, but a very deep moment where Courtney is kind of always aware and protecting her kids. So, I feel for her too.
And then, as far as like Lyla and the Sheriff’s department and knocking down the door and trying to get some attention on this. I think the lower socioeconomic issue is there. I think Riley says it a lot pretty subtly, but through the whole series, she’s kind of always pointing to the fact my biggest crime is that I’m poor, which I think it’s layered in there, kind of subtly, but so well. I will say there’s a little more insight into the adults: Bruce, Lyla, Kelly, Courtney; we kind of have a little more insight as we’re working on this show that we are all high school graduates of the same class. So, we’ve all known each other our whole lives. And I think with Lyla especially that scene where I come in, and I tried to get her to look for Riley, there’s a real personal betrayal there too. Because Lyla and Courtney were tight. They were high school friends, and they ran around together Kelly, Courtney and Lyla. And I think there’s this other personal level here where Courtney feels like Lyla has forgotten who she is. And it’s like you know me. This is my kid.
So, there are a lot of levels of sort of betrayal going on. But I also think it’s a small town and there are some assumptions going in there because Riley, obviously, deals drugs, and Courtney’s loud mouth and out there and been in that police station several times probably over the years. And I think there’s a little bit of dismissal here that’s not only about her status in the town but also personal because she and Lyla go back.
I’m grateful that we got to see you on the show for as long as we did. From a personal level, I really appreciated the single mom, with the high school graduate kid, and just how that makes us think, how everyone handled the creation of Courtney and Riley, it just makes us think, so I thank you for that and everyone else involved.
Cassie Beck: Thank you so much. I’m glad to hear that because I really love her too. I think she represents an important part of that town. It’s a big accomplishment for when Riley graduates high school. It’s a big accomplishment in a family like Courtney’s, and I think there’s a lot of sacrifices and a lot that probably went on in order for that to happen. And again, nobody’s winning Mother of the Year on this show. But I do think Courtney, I think the struggle and the survival aspect of it up against a kind of a horror genre is super interesting because they are survivors, she and Riley. They’ve been a lot of odds. So, it was an honor to play her and I really enjoyed it. And I loved it. I loved her comic style, but I also loved that kind of maternal, weirdly that she was maybe one of the more maternal people on the show.
The first six episodes of I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER can be found now on Prime Video. Episode 7 debuts tomorrow on the streaming service. To learn more about the series, check out our review!