Amber Coney Talks ‘Dead of Summer’ Season Premiere + Working With James Franco – Read Our Exclusive Q&A Here!

Lesley Bryce

Who’s ready for the premiere of Dead of Summer on Freeform tonight?

With only a few hours until the series airs, Celeb Secrets is giving you the scoop on what you can expect from it straight from Amber Coney, who plays Carolina “Cricket” Diaz in the horror/thriller.

In case you didn’t know already, Dead of Summer takes place in the late 1980s and Camp Stillwater is about to reopen after being closed down for years. Deb (Elizabeth Mitchell), the new owner, has thrown her heart, soul and life savings into renovating the camp she loved as a child. She isn’t the only one excited to return as six former campers—Alex (Ronen Rubinstein), Jessie (Paulina Singer), Cricket (Coney), Joel (Eli Goree), Blair (Mark Indelicato) and Blotter (Zachary Gordon) —join her as counselors hoping to experience the freedom that camp brings now that they are older.

Not part of the old crew, Amy (Elizabeth Lail) is not just new to Camp Stillwater, but to camp in general. While Amy tries her best to fit in with the already tight group, Drew (Zelda Williams) is content to be left alone. As everyone settles in and prepares for the campers’ arrival, Amy is the first to get a feeling that something is not right with this idyllic summer camp.

Dead of Summer premieres tonight, June 28th @ 9PM ET/PT after Pretty Little Liars on Freeform.

CelebSecrets: Can you tell us a little bit about your new series Dead of Summer which premieres tonight?

Amber Coney: “Totally, so Dead of Summer is going to be on ABC Freeform and it’s in the horror/thriller genre. The creators kind of say its The Shining meets John Hughes, so you get the ominous, creepy occurrences married with the acceptable characters who are going to have relationship dynamics with their past and their present, and it’s in 1989, it takes place at a midwestern summer camp and basically we’re all coming back to the summer camp as counselors have been campers previously, so we have remnants of relationships. I went to high school with my best friend on the show, so we’re really close and we’re coming back as counselors and we were also campers together. We’re really excited (laughs) for the summer camp that’s supposed to be a summer of fun and, you know, free-spiritedness and then we start to discover that’s not necessarily the case as kind of these creepy, supernatural occurrences sort of manifest and rear their ugly heads.”

Freeform/Katie Yu
Freeform/Katie Yu

Celeb Secrets: What can you tell us about your character Carolina Diaz? What can we expect from her?

Amber Coney: “When you first meet my character, I’m warm and perky and it doesn’t seem like I’m going through anything major. I have these one-liners and I try to kind of bring everyone together, and when there’s issues, try to rationalize and figure out what to do, so you get that on the surface and then you see kind of certain behaviors that indicate that I may be struggling with insecurity and I’m going after one of the guys on the show and that’s completely for my own validation, and when you see my backstory episode, which is episode three, you’ll discover where those kind of acts are coming from and why I feel the need to be desired and to get validation. Yeah, I’m struggling with all of that underneath this kind of bubbly surface.”

Celeb Secrets: You mentioned you were going after a guy on the show, so can you tell us what we can expect from that relationship? Does he share these feelings or is more about your character feeling validated? 

Amber Coney: “Right, so I mean I’m hoping that he will (laughs). Starting out, I’m not sure. I have no idea. I’m pretty relentless in my pursuit. At the beginning, it’s unclear as to whether my plans will actually manifest or not (laughs).”

Freeform/Katie Yu
Freeform/Katie Yu

Celeb Secrets: The show was filmed in Vancouver so how’d you like Vancouver and what did you and the other cast members do to sort of bond before and during the filming of the show?

Amber Coney: “I’m actually still up here. Yeah, we shot five episodes, so we’re about halfway through, so I’m in the thick of it right now (laughs). So some things like even about the story, I haven’t read major scripts, so I don’t even know what’s going to happen (laughs), but Vancouver is amazing. I love San Francisco and New York. Those are my favorite cities in the states, and this has that city vibe, metropolitan area, but it’s surrounded by trees and mountains and the air is so clean. There’s a whole seawall that you can walk on or run on. It’s really an amazing city. It’s awesome that we get to shoot here. During the pilot episode, we were all staying at a hotel in the same place and so it was really easy to hang out. I would host movie screenings in my hotel apartment and we would watch 80s movies and horror movies to kind of get into it, and yeah, during that pilot, we were together almost every day like trying new restaurants, going out to dance and just seeing what we could get out of the city, which we got out a lot, even though we were working simultaneously, we were able to bond that way, which was awesome because it’s necessary for an ensemble show to have that camaraderie so I’m glad that we were able to establish that early.”

Freeform/Katie Yu
Freeform/Katie Yu

Celeb Secrets: The show is supposed to be suspenseful and a little scary so was there ever a time on set that you were scared or afraid of what was going on? 

Amber Coney: “The problem is I am so wimpy, and so when I imagine these things, they actually really scare me as Amber (laughs). We watched like The Conjuring and I tried to watch The Awakening like to get into it and have that kind of adrenaline going and I’ve just been like traumatized (laughs) by watching scary sources to get in the zone. I mean, of course, you see the cameras all around and your conscious mind knows it’s not real, but yeah, my subconscious likes to take over and scare me anyway (laughs).”

Freeform/Katie Yu
Freeform/Katie Yu

Celeb Secrets: You collaborated with James Franco on Lifetime’s remake of Mother, May I Sleep With Danger. How was it working with him and writing the script?

Amber Coney: “Well James is one of the most imaginative people and most creative minds I’ve ever met, so it’s been such a pleasure to work with him. He met me at USC. I was a student there and I first got involved in his project as an actor and then he figured out that I could write and that I was good and could produce scripts very, very quickly, and so we started collaborating, he would send me story ideas and outlines and I would do a script in like a week or two and then we would move on to the next one. So far together, we’ve written I think eight or nine this year (laughs). We’ve been pretty consistent in terms of our collaborations, so he reached out to me first for this Lifetime movie, basically saying that Lifetime wanted him to helm a remake of this 90s cult movie and he was going to add lesbian vampires and I was like ‘What? Okay. Yes, I’m in,’ so he asked me to write the script in less than a week, so I did that, and thankfully, even though it was done very quickly, the network loved it and they loved his ideas and the way it was presented, so that’s kind of how that came into fruition. I have a small part in the movie as well. I just called his producer and was like ‘I have to play a vampire (laughs),’ so I was on it mainly from the production point of view, which was an incredible experience, but I was also an actor as well, and I got my fangs and I got to wear crazy contacts (laughs), so it was really a treat to have that duality experience.”

Featured photo by Lesley Bryce

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