Madison Iseman on ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’ and Her Reaction to Finding Out the Answers
She also talks about the experience of playing twins and how silly night shoots can get.
From showrunner Sara Goodman, and based on both the 1973 novel as well as the 1997 film, the Prime Video original horror thriller I Know What You Did Last Summer picks up with a group of friends, one year after the fatal car accident that occurred on their graduation night, sending them all spiraling. At the same time that they realize someone with murderous intent is after them, they also learn that every one of them is hiding more than just the one secret that they share.
During this 1-on-1 interview with Collider, that can be both watched and read, Madison Iseman (who plays both Lennon and Alison, twins that couldn’t be more different from each other) talked about being a big fan of the original movie, starting with the same idea but then having their own take on the material, uncovering every character’s secrets, the experience of playing twins, how silly night shoots can get, and how she reacted to learning the answers to all of the twisty-turny questions.
Collider: This show is quite the wild ride. When the opportunity to be a part of this project came your way and you hear that it’s a TV version of I Know What You Did Last Summer, what was your reaction? Did you immediately have questions? Had you been familiar with the movies?
MADISON ISEMAN: I was a big fan of the original movie from the ‘90s. And yeah, of course, I had lots of questions. I remember reading the pilot for the first time and went into it with a blank slate, not really expecting anything, or not knowing what to expect, more so. I just loved how they took so much of the charm from the original, but also created something completely new on top of that. Also, our story does start the same way, with a fatal car crash, a cover up, and a killer who will literally stop at nothing to horrify us all. At the same time, it’s a fresh take and our story is very character-driven. I loved how layered and complex all of the characters were, and really, it’s more than just a bunch of teens running away from a killer. Everyone has a secret, everyone’s guilty, and no one’s really innocent. That gets uncovered, through every single episode.
How personally challenging and upsetting is it to have that nameless, faceless boogeyman, at least until you know more about what’s going on. Is it terrifying to not know who the figure in the dark is?
ISEMAN: Yeah. It’s interesting, that was one of the things, from the beginning, that the entire cast we were trying to figure out. I think we got the first four episodes, in the beginning, so we didn’t know what the rest of the show would look like. We were all trying to make decisions that impact our characters throughout the rest of the show, and blindly doing so. We had bets on set, trying to figure out how it was gonna end. I will say that every single one of us was wrong, except for one person. I was completely wrong. I had no idea. I was way off. I thought I had it too.
How do you personally feel about this whole idea of reboots, remakes and reimaginings? Is it something that you find yourself interested? Do you normally shy away from watching them? Does it sort of depend on what the property is?
ISEMAN: It’s mixed feelings. It’s so awesome to be a part of something that people love so much. It also pays tribute to letting them live on, for different generations, in this way where you can reinvent it, in some way. I find myself doing quite a bit of reboots or sequels, with Jumanji, Goosebumps, I Know What You Did Last Summer. For me, I fall in love with things that already came out, so to be a part of something that is already so iconic is a lot of pressure, but at the same time, it’s really exciting because it had such an impact on me personally.
It must be freeing, in the way that this is approaching it, by taking the idea and then deviating from there. You’re not playing the same character, so you don’t have to feel like you have that to live up to.
ISEMAN: Yeah, because that’s a whole other thing, when you’re fully recreating something. That can be a whole lot scarier. At least, we’re making a whole new world within those circumstances.
What was your reaction to the idea of playing twins? What most excited you about that and what made you most nervous about that?
ISEMAN: So much. I feel like it’s on every actor’s bucket list, but rarely do you ever get the opportunity. I was definitely up for the challenge. I think the scariest thing for me was that, when you first meet these twins, it’s right in the middle of this grad night, so there’s a lot of pressure on selling them as twins and building this backstory of everything that happened before that, with their mother having committed suicide when they were little girls and how Alison has always felt in the shadow of her sister. I wanted to really do the background on that, to make sure all of that came through on screen. Also, the technical side of twins was very interesting. I knew it was gonna be a challenge, but it’s definitely time consuming because you’re doing double of everything. And I think all of my heaviest dialogue scenes were all with my twin. It was definitely a lot of work.
What’s it like to not only develop two separate characters and figure out who they are and why they are the way they are, but to then explore them in flashbacks, to explore them at different times in their lives, and then to figure out when one is living as the other? How do you layer that onto it and deal with all of those complications?
ISEMAN: It’s a lot. It’s a show about people wearing many different hats. And it’s not just Alison, it’s many different characters. Everyone has a secret and they all slowly become revealed, throughout the entire series. There’s so much happening at the same moment that it is sometimes hard to keep track of where you are in a specific scene. We have an amazing showrunner, Sara Goodman, who definitely helped us keep on track and we worked with so many great people. Storytelling is sometimes easy and sometimes comes with a challenge, but I always enjoy a challenge. I think it’s fun.
You have a pretty large ensemble of actors that you get to work with in this. What’s it like to have this big group to work with, but to then also know that you’re going to lose some of them when they’re gruesomely murdered?
ISEMAN: I think we all knew what we were signing up for. It’s exciting. They’re all so great and so talented. We had so much fun, every single day. I’m a huge horror movie fan, so this was so fun for me. But we definitely knew what we were signing up for. We all got the first four episodes and were like, “We don’t know what’s happening after this. We’ve gotta buckle up and just get ready for anything.”
Do you ever laugh when you’re filming a scene that’s just horribly gruesome? Is it ever so crazy and surreal that it just feels silly?
ISEMAN: Absolutely it does. And also, we’re doing night shoots, so we’re all losing our minds at three in the morning. When someone is dying, I won’t say who, at three in the morning and everyone’s sleep exhausted, it definitely can get a little silly, but our editors are amazing and they make it look scary. Sometimes we were deathly afraid. We worked in a couple locations that I’m pretty sure were haunted, so those were pretty spooky. And then, the scene of our car crash was a pretty emotional several nights that we filmed that and that was totally different. It was nice to have each other there and to help support and lean on each other. Those were two very long nights.
This is a show that also has a lot of adult content and Lennon, in particular, seems to be right at the center of most of the things that happen, in that sense, whether it’s drugs or using sex or however she manipulates somebody. What’s it been like to take on that kind of material? Are there always conversations about what it will look like and why she’s doing what she’s doing?
ISEMAN: There were conversations from the very beginning, even just from the words on the paper and what exactly we want it to look like and how we want people to feel from it. It’s interesting because every character and the decisions they make, there are consequences that come, even towards the end of the entire series. Especially with someone like Lennon, who does purposely manipulate people through these things, it was a little scary for me because she’s a bold character and I’m the complete opposite. I had to tap into something inside of me, to go there. But as far as the intimate scenes, it’s always something I’ve wanted to do, and especially in that way, it was fun. I tried to find the fun in it because, at the end of the day, it’s an entertaining show. I felt so comfortable and safe, and everyone was just so great.
And there seems to always be a story reason.
ISEMAN: Yes, aways. Everything we do is for a reason. Every decision someone makes, it’s always revealed later on why they did that. With each episode, you get a glimpse into each character’s perspective of that night. When you see something in the first episode, that moment might come back five episodes later and it will all make sense. You’re like, “Oh, okay, that’s what happened and why that person did that.” Our whole show is like a giant puzzle, and then finally, by the end, you’ll have all of the pieces.
The father-daughter relationship plays a big role in this story and it’s such an interesting dynamic because clearly their relationship was strained and there was a lot of tension there, and now she’s in this weird position and he knows more than most other people about what’s going on. How important is that relationship, especially taking all that into consideration? What was that like to explore?
ISEMAN: Bill Heck is the greatest. I love that man. He was my rock, the whole time filming. We had a lot of heavy scenes and he takes a lot of that load. His character goes through it. The thing that happens forces them [together]. They both lost something that was so important to them and Alison is forced to face this relationship with her father that she avoided for so long. They have a very interesting relationship. I think her dad really does love her, but I don’t know if Alison will ever believe it. I don’t think she’ll believe anyone ever fully loves her because she doesn’t love herself.
You talked about trying to guess what was going on, but guessing wrong. What was your reaction, when you actually found out the answers?
ISEMAN: I think I was in shock, but after I took a second to process, it all made sense. The show is giving you all of the pieces to put together yourself. It’s also giving you lots of pieces and misleads, and you will get lost because there’s literally no way you could [put it all together], unless you’re just really good. I’ll be very impressed, if some people are able to put it together. It’s not like we hide it from you. It’s there the whole time. It’s just a matter of whether you can put it together or not.
You said that one of you guessed right. Did they have a logical reason for guessing the way that they guessed or was it just a random guess and they just got lucky?
ISEMAN: They are very smart . . . The ending makes sense. It does. You’ll find out, the more episodes you go through, that there are many, many secrets revealed. It’s not just the big finale at the end. Everyone is guilty of something.
Since this is a show that loses cast members and characters are killed off, have there been conversations about how the show could continue in other seasons? Do you know what the next steps in the story would be?
ISEMAN: You’d have to see if I make it [to the end]. Of course, everyone wants the show to do really well, and Sara is a mastermind, so I’m sure she has something in the works, for what she would like to do for a second season. But who knows who will be live . . . Our show gets pretty crazy.