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Interview: Griffin Gluck from ‘Cruel Summer’ talks Luke and more

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Griffin Gluck is bringing his A-game to the second season of Cruel Summer. Gluck, who stars as Luke in the hit Freeform series, sat down with us at ATX TV Festival in Austin to chat about the show.  At our roundtable interview, we talked about prepping getting into the late 90s mindset, on what challenged him as an actor, on bonding with the cast and more. 

About Griffin Gluck

Griffin Gluck is a versatile actor who has appeared on small and big screens. He is best known for his roles in the television series Private Practice, Red Band Society, and American Vandal. In Private Practice, he played Mason Warner, the son of Cooper Freedman (Paul Adelstein). In the comedy Red Band Society, he played Charlie, the narrator of the show and a comatose patient in a children’s hospital. And in the mockumentary American Vandal, he was Sam Ecklund, a high school student who investigates a mass prank at a high school.

Gluck has also had a successful film career. He was nominated for a Young Artist Award for his role in the Adam Sandler film Just Go With It. He was in Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life and the upcoming feature Time Cut as Quinn.

Cruel Summer season 2
Griffin Gluck and Lexi Underwood in Cruel Summer (Freeform/Ricardo Hubbs)

About Cruel Summer

Cruel Summer is a fiendishly clever and meticulously crafted mystery anthology series that’s been a hit since the first season premiered on Freeform in 2001. Season 2 of Cruel Summer follows a new cast and has a new mystery at its core. It unfolds over three summers and timelines surrounding Y2K and  is centered around three teenagers: Megan (Sadie Stanley), Isabella (Lexi Underwood), and Luke (Griffin Gluck.) There’s a love triangle at the center of Cruel Summer, and the show explores a dark mystery and the fallout as it impacts the trio and everyone else in the small town. 

Griffin Gluck plays Luke Chambers, best friend since childhood with Megan (Sadie Stanely). Luke is from a prominent and super-connected family in Chatham, Washington, where the show takes place. He’s expected to live up to their high standards. However, Luke has his own dreams, and throughout the show, he struggles to balance the pressure between those and his family’s expectations.

New episodes of Cruel Summer are released on Freeform on Monday nights , with those episodes available on Hulu the next day.

The interview with Griffin Gluck of Cruel Summer

[Editor’s note: This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.]

Griffin Gluck as Luke
Griffin Gluck as Luke Chambers in Cruel Summer. (Freeform/Ricardo Hubbs)

On whether or not he was a fan of Cruel Summer’s first season

Interviewer: “Were you a fan of the first season, or did you go back and re-watch it when this audition came up?”

Griffin Gluck: “Yeah, I hopped on the bandwagon late. I got on the bandwagon when I got the audition, and then definitely really got hooked once I booked the role. That’s when I started watching a lot. But I’m good friends with Chiara Aurelia, who played Jeanette in season one. So I told her, I was like, “I’m a bad friend. I’m sorry it took me so long.” Because she did phenomenally.”

On advice from Chiara Aurelia

Ayla Ruby: “Was she able to give you any advice after you had gotten the role? Like what to expect? Because there are three timelines, it’s an interesting thing.”

Griffin Gluck: “Yeah. I think the main advice she gave me was, ‘Buckle up. This is a tough show to shoot. You’re going to be working gruesome hours. You’re going to be shooting really difficult scenes. Kind of like guerrilla warfare; it’s just going to be run and gun. You’re going to do a shot; things are going to change. You’re going to have to change things. And you’re going to have to do re-shoots. You’re just going to have to make it work and just buckle up.’ And that was the advice that she gave me. And she was completely right.”

On filming three time periods at once

Interviewer:Did it ever get lost which timeline you were in? Because it’s just shifting. In one case, it’s six months, and then in another case, it’s one year. Was it hard since this season didn’t have the three-year jump that the last one did, of the fashions, changed so much in this span?”

Griffin Gluck: “I don’t think it was that tough; just because the girls, their changes are so drastic. You can really tell by the way dress and the way they look that you’re jumping timelines. For Luke, it was a little bit tougher. I mean, I had an inch of hair, so there wasn’t much we could do with that. Sometimes it was messy, and other times it was a little spiky thing, which is not that big of a difference.”

“But no, I mean it was pretty obvious once you got in there what era you’re in, definitely because of what kind of scenes you’re doing. Summer is a lot more bright and fun and loose energy. And winter gets a lot more serious. So normally, if it’s a serious scene, we know we’re in winter.”

On prepping for the period role

Ayla Ruby: “So this was 2000, 1999. Can you talk a little bit about how you prepared for that? Got into that mindset? Because it was 23 years ago.”

Griffin Gluck: That was, yeah. It was interesting for me. Because in my mind, I knew it was 23 years ago or whatever, and I knew that there were some differences in culture and things like that. But in my mind, it was kind of the same thing as today, at least story-wise. There’s a love triangle that’s not new, that’s not specifically 20 years ago. There’s a murder mystery aspect that’s not new; that’s probably been around forever. And all the things that the teens were going through were incredibly relatable to what teens are going through nowadays.”

“So other than the aesthetics, mentally, it was easy to prepare for that because I just wanted to treat it how any kid would treat those situations or any teen growing up in that. Although to mentally prepare for it, this sounds stupid, but it helped me a lot. But the main thing I did was I left my phone in my apartment, and I would go out for long walks or hang out with people without my phone because that’s the main difference between the 23 years. Kids didn’t have that.”


CRUEL SUMMER – Freeform’s “Cruel Summer” stars Sean Blakemore as Sheriff Jack Myer, Braeden De La Garza as Brent Chambers, Sadie Stanley as Megan Landry, Griffin Gluck as Luke Chambers, Kadee Strickland as Debbie Landry, Paul Adelstein as Steve Chambers, Lisa Yamada as Parker and Lexi Underwood as Isabella. (Freeform/Frank Ockenfels)

On using music to get into a character’s mindset

Interviewer: “Now I know some of your co-stars created a character playlist.”

Griffin Gluck: Yes.”

Interviewer: “Did you do the same thing? Was that something you were asked to do in preparation for the role? Or did you take that on?”

Griffin Gluck: No. I never did a character playlist, but I had a playlist going of nineties tunes and things like that. The nineties, early 2000s. I don’t think mine was the most accurate. I had just a lot of early 2000s bangers in there, but it did the job.”

Griffin Gluck on being challenged as an actor

Ayla Ruby: So, was there anything really challenging or interesting for you to portray, without spoilers, or something that really tested you as an actor?”

Griffin Gluck: “Yes, for sure. And I can’t really describe it without spoiling something, but I will say that episode eight. That gives you no information at all. But just know that episode eight was really challenging to film. And I think it tried all of Sadie, Lexi, and myself. It really pushed us to our limits. I think episode eight is kind of the climax of the series. And then nine and 10 wrap it up incredibly nicely. And it still rides that climb. But episode eight was my favorite.”

On breaking the tension and bonding as a cast

Interviewer: They just gave us the one-minute warning, but do you have a favorite fun thing you guys did away from set to break the tension?”

Griffin Gluck: “Yeah, we went to Whistler, actually. We took a cast weekend trip to Whistler. Lexi had planned it out extensively. And she kept saying, “Are you guys coming? Are you guys coming?” We were like, “Yeah, for sure. We totally are.” And then we didn’t really plan it. So the night before we left, we found this Airbnb that was cheap with one bed, and four of us, myself, Sadie [Sadie Stanley], Lisa [Lisa Yamada], and our castmate Olly [Olly Sholotan.] But us four splitting this one bed, and we’re head to toe, sardines in a can for two nights. And we did all these Whistler activities. That was definitely a bonding experience, for sure.”

Interviewer: I imagine it was like Charlie’s grandparents in Willy Wonka.”

Griffin Gluck: “It was very much like that.”

You can check out Cruel Summer on Freeform and Hulu

New episodes of Cruel Summer are available every Monday on Freeform and Hulu the next day. The sixth episode, “The Plunge,” airs on Monday, July 3rd. 

What do you think of Cruel Summer S2? Do you have any theories about the mystery? Join the conversation with us on Twitter @MyCosmicCircus or our Discord.

Want to read more from ATX TV Festival in Austin? Check out our coverage of the event here.

Interview: Sadie Stanley from Cruel Summer

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Ayla Ruby

I am a writer and interviewer based somewhere in the Alpha Quadrant. I love all things nerdy - but Star Trek and Spiderman have special places in my heart. Find me at @TulinWrites on Twitter. And visit my other website for more reviews and interviews:

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