XO, Kitty's Anna Cathcart on stepping into a leading role: 'Surreal'
EXCLUSIVE: The stars of Netflix's To All The Boys I've Loved Before spin-off share secrets about the show.
Anna Cathcart shot to fame at 14 when she was cast in Netflix’s To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before as the troublemaking, confident Kitty Song Covey alongside Lana Condor. The character was constantly described as ‘scene-stealing’, proving she had impeccable comedic timing and an infectious onscreen energy.
The final film from Jenny Han’s To All The Boys trilogy left the door open for a spin-off starring Kitty, after she met love interest Dae while visiting South Korea. While rumours about the new project were floating around in 2021, Anna didn’t believe that XO, Kitty would be going ahead — until she found herself in South Korea to begin filming.
The 10-part romantic dramedy hits Netflix on May 18, following Kitty’s adventure after she enrols in a prestigious South Korean school so she can be with her long-distance boyfriend Dae. In a chat with Yahoo Lifestyle, the star reveals what it was like to lead the show, how it felt playing a mature character with kissing scenes, and gives an insight into what makes this series special.
Anna admits she wasn’t sure the spin-off would ever come to fruition and didn’t allow herself to get her hopes up.“I fully thought it was like, they were just saying an idea, and I was like, ‘Oh, that’s a cool thought’,” she recalls. “But I didn’t think it was actually going to happen. So it definitely took a while for it to hit me.
“It was just very surreal, because I could have never predicted this many years ago when I was first auditioning as a 13-year-old for the first To All The Boys movie. It’s very crazy.”
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The 19-year-old adds that she finally realised the scope of the project once she was on her way to South Korea to begin filming. “It was a lot to wrap my head around, and it was such an honour that they wanted to continue this story and that they thought it was worth telling,” she says.
The Descendants star teases that audiences can expect ‘exciting adventures, a brand new journey, and amazing characters’.
Anna reveals how she prepared for her first onscreen kiss: ‘Interesting’
Of course, Anna is no stranger to the screen, with multiple TV shows and films under her belt before she landed the role of Kitty. But there’s one thing she hadn’t tackled before — kissing scenes.
While Kitty has the same strong, stubborn spirit seen in the previous films, she’s also much older and mature. Considering the entire premise of the show revolves around her relationship with Dae, Anna had to learn how to approach intimate scenes with some of her co-stars.
The show had an intimacy coordinator to help plan any intimate scenes, and the Canadian actress says she felt “lucky” to have such supportive and wonderful co-stars to work with. Though many viewers think that filming kissing scenes can be swoon-worthy and fun, she tells us it’s “definitely not romantic” at all.
“Dance is the best way that I kind of framed it in my head to not feel as nervous about it. And I was lucky…my scene partners, we all had each other’s back, and they made sure that we were comfortable,” she explains.
“It helped…to be friends in real life, so you knew you could trust them. But it’s definitely an interesting experience and I don’t think people can picture what [kissing onscreen is] like. It was my first time doing anything like that on screen.”
Her co-star Anthony Keyvan, who plays Q on the show, echoes Anna’s statements. “It’s actually extremely uncomfortable and mechanical. There are a lot of moving parts and it’s the least sexy thing on the planet to be honest,” he spills.
“Everyone knows what they’re comfortable with. So it’s a very thought-out process, and there’s nothing spontaneous or necessarily fun about it.
“It’s definitely not as magical as like what the show makes it seem,” he laughs.
Why XO, Kitty is so special: ‘You can see the impact’
The show is set in South Korea and features a diverse cast, as well as switching between conversations in English, and conversations in Korean with English subtitles with ease. Both Anna and Anthony are mixed-race, with Anna having Chinese and Irish heritage, while Anthony is half Filipino and half Iranian.
Representing multiple cultures onscreen — something that typically has been lacking in the past — is not something either of the stars take lightly. The pair were blown away during a special Netflix screening after seeing just how much change they can make in the media industry.
“You can see the impact. Those moments are when it really hits harder, I’m like, ‘Wow, we’re a part of something that’s actually impacting people and changing people’s mindsets’,” Anna gushes. “It’s an honour to be a part of something like that for others. And the reach can be so large, which is also amazing and really cool to think about.”
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Anthony, who has been working since he was five years old in shows such as Lost and Love, Victor, made a surprise admission during our chat.
“In all fairness, this is the first time I’ve played a character where I feel 100% completely represented. This is the first character where I feel like I’m portraying absolute authenticity with because he is exactly what I am. Half Filipino, half Iranian,” he says.
“I’ve done this my whole life and I’ve never really seen any opportunities for a lot of mixed Asian people,” he says, before adding that it’s “really exciting” to be able to provide representation in the media.
The pair agree that XO, Kitty has the possibility to attract a large audience, with the characters constantly developing and learning, including the adults in the show.
“We’re uplifting voices of stories that haven’t necessarily been told yet. So I think it’s a show that is hopefully for everyone. I think there’s something anyone that’s watching can take away from it,” Anthony sums up.
All 10 episodes of Netflix's XO, Kitty will be available on Thursday May 18 at 5pm AEST.
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