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Entertainment Olivia Holt on Cruel Summer's biggest twists and her "incredibly challenging" shoot

02:10  07 august  2021
02:10  07 august  2021 Source:   digitalspy.com

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Cruel Summer finale spoilers follow.

Olivia Holt with pink hair taking a selfie: Cruel Summer star Olivia Holt chatted to Digital Spy about season one's biggest twists and why this was an © Freeform/Sami Drasin Cruel Summer star Olivia Holt chatted to Digital Spy about season one's biggest twists and why this was an "incredibly challenging" shoot.

At the start of our chat, Olivia Holt tells us that she's planning to set up a book club with her friend where they read the same book every month. She's joking, of course, but it's clear that the book in question, a self-help guide called The Four Agreements, has really helped Olivia. "It’s incredible, and it really changed my perspective on life."

First published in 1997, the book proposes that we can only be free if we can tear away the shackles of our own self-limiting beliefs. It's a curious choice given the nature of Cruel Summer, Olivia's new show, and not just in the way you might think either.

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Yes, the main story revolves around Kate Wallis, a teenage girl who's been physically locked away in an older man's basement. But everyone on this show is trapped by their own perception of the world, whether it's Jeanette Turner (played by Chiara Aurelia) who feels the pressure of hatred and scandal, or whether it's Kate's own mother Joy (Andrea Anders) who feels an incessant need to play the "perfect parent" and impress the other socialites.

A post shared by olivia holt (@olivia_holt)

After she unpacks her trauma throughout the first 10 episodes, Kate eventually manages to find a moment of genuine freedom with Mallory that is just "incredibly liberating" to watch. Digital Spy caught up with Olivia to discuss the power of that moment and how her experience on Cruel Summer helped Holt grow too. Along the way, we also discussed that twist and all of the wildest "Annabelle" theories that came Olivia's way.

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Cruel Summer covers three different time periods all at once. Did you find it challenging to get a handle on Kate's story across three eras?

Yeah, it was incredibly challenging. But also really fun, though. A lot of emotions go into this because I think playing three different versions of one character can be really tricky.

There was a lot of communication involved, from my scene partners to the creatives of the show. We were constantly in talks about where we were at in time. I think, also, getting into hair and make-up and our costume was incredibly helpful.

But it was tricky at times. Some days were more challenging than others. There were days where I was like, "I don’t even know what year I’m in." And then I had these press-on nails in '93 that were constantly falling off. And I was like, "What do I do?" So some days were pretty challenging. But for the most part, it was incredibly fun.

Cruel Summer tackles some tricky themes. Were you ever worried about how people would respond to the show?

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No, I really wasn't, because I think there's always been so much stigma around these subject matters, and I think it was really important for us to discuss them, for us to showcase them in a real way. So, yeah, I personally did not have a problem with it. I was like, "Let's show it all!"

And they were like, "Well, we can't show it all. You can't talk about it all, but let's give people the opportunity to be educated, and to give them a little bit more knowledge on these subject matters." I was happy to be a part of a show that did that.

Olivia Holt smiling for the camera: olivia holt, cruel summer © Freeform olivia holt, cruel summer

Kate went through so much in this season. Were there any scenes you found particularly challenging to film?

Definitely. The emotional bits more than anything, because I have a harder time getting into that place than a lot of actors. Some people can turn it on and turn it off – I'm not that way. I have to put myself in a dark room and turn on really sad music to get into that headspace.

There were a lot of scenes that I had to do that took me to a really dark place, which was kind of terrifying, but also it was incredibly liberating to know that I could reach that space, and also make it as raw as possible.

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It was really, really challenging, but also I’m very proud. I’m very, very proud of my performance in the show because of that. I felt like it helped me grow, not just as an actor but also as an individual.

Because of all that, do you ever find it hard to switch off after filming?

Every day [laughs]. It takes me a minute to decompress, and I'm so grateful for our creatives on the show. Bill and Michelle Purple did an incredible job at checking in on all of us.

But they knew I had a harder time turning it off at the end of the day, so they would make sure that I was good, and that I got home OK, that I was able to take a warm bath, and have a glass of wine, and completely decompress. Because it was sometimes really difficult to turn it off and to get out of that funk, especially because of the subject matter we were talking about.

It gets really heavy at some points. There were days where I would have a scene where I would have to be emotional and cry, and I would still be crying. I don't know if that's the hormonal woman in me [laughs], but I was just sobbing. I was like, "Why? It won't stop." But it's OK! It made for better art. It's for the art.

On a happier flip-side, then...

I'm going to start crying in the interview [laughs].

The fans were so engaged with this show, coming up with new theories week after week. What was the wildest, craziest fan theory you can remember coming across?

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That Annabelle was my child. There were a few of those. I was like, "Guys, it doesn't match the timeline." I don’t know. Maybe. I guess it could have made sense. But I think a lot of people were like, "Kate has a baby, and it's Annabelle." And I was like, "No, guys."

a person standing in front of a cake: olivia holt, cruel summer © Freeform olivia holt, cruel summer

People were so invested in the show. There were some wild theories out there but also some really good ones. I was like, "Tia" [Napolitano] – who's our showrunner – "you need to hire these people for season two. They're so good. They're brilliant."

I was convinced at one point that Kate had an alter ego called Annabelle.

That was a good one, yes. Actually, one of my best friends… She thought the same thing. I was like, "That's actually really smart." Also, the mirrors. There were a lot of theories about the mirrors that I thought were really good. I was like, "That's genius."

The big Annabelle reveal was really shocking, but then again, the whole show is full of amazing twists. Were there any in particular that just blew you away when you read them in the script?

I feel like most of them. I was so blown away by every twist. There were so many things I was very confident on – and I was wrong [laughs].

Like, Annabelle – finding out what Annabelle is. The ending was genius. Kate and Mallory's relationship. I was so satisfied with every twist because I felt like it gave me all of the answers that I wanted but also left me wanting more. Which has left me satisfied, you know?

I think I might have screamed watching that final twist at the very end. I was just blown away. How did you feel when you found out that Jeanette knew Kate was trapped all along?

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We were actually shooting episode nine. Michelle Purple, one of our executive producers, told me the ending. And this was maybe a day or two before we got the hard copy of our final episode.

It took me a night to process it. I went home, and I was like, "Whoa, this is the ending? That's it?" I woke up the next day, and I was so satisfied because it's worse than what we thought. If everybody had seen Kate and they thought Jeanette did see her, OK, they were right. But it's worse than what they thought. And that's why I was sold. That's why I was like, "That's genius."

Olivia Holt et al. sitting in a chair: olivia holt, cruel summer © Freeform olivia holt, cruel summer

Then I got the script, and I read it for the first time. I probably screamed, too and I knew what happened! So, yeah, it definitely shook me to the core.

There's another great scene towards the end when Kate and Mallory dance in the rain and share that kiss. Their relationship was left open-ended, so what did that scene mean for you?

The way I looked at it is: it's up for interpretation. I think Kate and Mallory formed a really special bond. Whether it's platonic or romantic or however you want to look at it, they're soulmates, and they're there for each other through thick and thin. They've created something really special. So I think that the trajectory of their relationship could really go anywhere.

That moment for them was incredibly liberating. Kate deciding that Mallory was her person at that moment, I think was such a powerful moment – especially in female culture. The way that sometimes women look at women – they can be tearing them down. But in this scene, it was a powerful moment between two women who were there for each other through everything. And I think that that says something about how resilient women can be.

Cruel Summer airs on Freeform in the US, and Amazon Prime Video in the UK.

In the latest edition of Digital Spy Magazine, we reflect on the 50 most groundbreaking soap characters of all time. Read every issue now with a 1-month free trial, only on Apple News+.

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