"Even if you understood a little piece, you've definitely not seen the big picture yet," the actress tells PEOPLE

By Dana Rose Falcone
May 11, 2021 03:55 PM
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Even Cruel Summer star Chiara Aurelia didn't know what to expect from the twisty YA thriller when she first accepted the role.

"I was playing along from script to script all the way," the 18-year-old tells PEOPLE. "We got a little bit of backstory from our creatives to inform the choices we were making episode by episode, but definitely not enough to know what was going on. There's so many different characters and everyone has their own mystery and their own story; Even if you understood a little piece, you've definitely not seen the big picture yet. It is worth the wait, I promise."

Chiara Aurelia
Credit: Sami Drasin/ Freeform

The Freeform thriller takes place over three summers as a girl goes missing, while another seemingly — and mysteriously — takes over her life.

Aurelia said she was excited at the idea of revisiting the '90s in Cruel Summer, which takes place from 1993-95.

"The fashion is amazing," she says. "I currently have a pair of the chunky Steve Maddens that I've been wearing everywhere since we started filming."

The actress says her castmates got "super, super close" while shooting and admits that between takes "we did have some serious prank wars."

"I have a scarring video on the last day of filming of Olivia [Holt] jumping out from behind a curtain. She waited behind there for 25 minutes to scare me, and screamed at the top of her lungs. I jumped out of my skin across the room with everyone watching," Aurelia continues. "We had a fun time."

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And of course, the cast embraced the show's namesake song, Bananarama's 1984 hit. "We listened to lots of that song in the course of filming," Aurelia says.

Due to COVID-19, executive producer Jessica Biel couldn't be physically on set often, but Aurelia says the mom of two remained "super involved in the process."

CHIARA AURELIA
Credit: Bill Matlock/ Freeform

"We spent a good amount of time together," Aurelia says of Biel. "She kept really connected with the cast and there was so much communication that was involved in every scene that was shot."

And while the role was nothing short of a dream come true, Aurelia admits that she didn't even think she'd get the part.

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"I initially got the script in 2019. I remember reading it and being so excited by it, but not really thinking it was something I was going to end up working on," she admits. "I imagined they were going to cast someone older or someone different. I just kind of went in going, 'We'll see what happens.' Then the more time I ended up talking to the creatives getting a better idea of Jeanette and what the story was going to be, it was an amazing collaborative process, and here we are."

The New Mexico native hopes to be back here once more for a possible season two: "Hopefully, I'll be spending this next summer with the Cruel Summer cast again.

Cruel Summer airs Tuesdays (10 p.m. ET) on Freeform.