Cruel Summer Star Chiara Aurelia Talks the Twisted New Time-Jumping Thriller

Almost immediately after it debuted on Freeform last month, Cruel Summer has become one of the [...]

Almost immediately after it debuted on Freeform last month, Cruel Summer has become one of the hottest new thrillers that social media couldn't get enough of, as viewers would consume each new episode and analyze details to uncover the truth behind the twisted narrative. Adding another compelling element to the narrative is that, rather than unfolding in a linear fashion, the series seamlessly weaves together the dramatic events of a small Texas town across three years, seeing the characters evolve as they uncover new truths about a horrible crime. Chiara Aurelia stars in the series as Jeanette, who audiences initially sympathize with, only for the tides to turn multiple times to make us question if she's the real victim.

"I mean, like 50% of my attraction to this show was simply, 'I have to be the first person to find out what happens in Episode 10,'" Aurelia joked about her own investment in the complex storyline to "No, no, it was super exciting. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time we were filming. It's so engaging. We all had a lot of guesses and assumptions. I remember the first time I heard the end of our show, and my mouth just dropped to the floor, and I was so excited. But we didn't find out until just before filming [Episode 10], what was gonna happen. So we were all on the edge of our seats the whole season as well."

Cruel Summer is a psychological thriller that follows two young women: Kate Wallis, the popular girl with a charmed life who one day goes missing, and Jeanette Turner, 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? Set over three summers and told through shifting points of view, the series challenges perception and follows how one girl can go from being a sweet outlier to the most despised person in America.

After the various timeframes are introduced in each episode, the filmmakers rely on different outfits, hairstyles, and filmmaking techniques to make each year feel distinct. For the performers, however, any given day could see them shooting scenes across the entire timeline.

"We would jump around every day. So sometimes we'd start the morning in '93 then jump to '94, then jump to '95, back again," the actress confirmed. "There were definitely some restraints, restrictions in terms of how much we could do, just because they're such drastic changes. But if we were only in Jeanette's bedroom this one day, it was the day we were gonna knock out all the scenes there, no matter what year they were in."

Despite the events of the series only being separated by a year at a time, in the world of a teenager, a year can feel like a lifetime.

"I think it's super important to highlight how multifaceted and unique and different every teenager is and how many layers there are and how many different thoughts everyone is having, especially when you're with Jeanette in all of her ups and her downs and her different moments in her life," Aurelia detailed of how she approaches the character. "Her moments alone, with certain people, with other people, just watching how she interacts in those relationships and with herself, those drastic look changes, drastic energy changes throughout the years. It's super normal for teenagers, and it's super normal in high school."

She continued, "I think that it's really important to highlight the unique complexities of each character in our show and to not stereotype people and to not only see one layer and assume that people are one thing. That's something that I love a lot about Jeanette and our show in general, is we really highlight the importance of embracing yourself. We show Jeanette transforming from '93 to '94 and how hard that is and how sad it is to watch as an audience. And then again from '94 to '95. I think it's just important to show that it's okay to be a lot of different things."

Check out new episodes of Cruel Summer every Tuesday on Freeform.

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