The Society’s Kathryn Newton: “I’m the person who hides in my house with Hot Cheetos”

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WARNING: Major spoilers for The Society episode 3 below. 

Season 1 of Netflix’s latest teen series The Society premiered on the streaming service last week and it already has viewers hooked.

Starting in the wealthy town of West Ham in New England, the show follows a group of teenagers as they are mysteriously transported to an exact replica of their hometown, minus their parents, younger siblings and any way of escape. From there, the teens must rebuilt their society as they figure out what happened and how to get back to their old lives.

For a better look at the series, we spoke to actor Kathryn Newton (Big Little LiesPokemon: Detective Pikachu) about the show and her role as Allie, the teenage girl who steps up and attempts to lead her classmates in the new world.

SciFiNow: What made you want to get involved with the series?

Kathryn Newton: I was very excited after reading the script, not just because I thought the story was going to be fun but also I felt that Netflix was giving young actors an opportunity to tell a story with a lot of weight, that’s very heavy and sometimes hard to watch, and I was very grateful that they gave storytellers the opportunities to tell these stories. I mean, there’s not a lot of TV shows with this kind of subject matter for such a young actor. Everyone in the cast is so great and everyone has a great character, and as you watch the show each episode you delve even deeper into these people, into their lives and their pasts and who they are. It’s very interesting, and all of them are complicated, just like teenagers are. I think a lot of the time teenagers are kind of stereotyped, and this show really breaks down the barriers because there’s no such thing as a stereotype anymore. It doesn’t matter in this society. We’re rebuilding everything.

Could you tell us about the show’s Lord Of The Flies connection and how it plays out?

Lord Of The Flies is a great example of what the show is like because it’s kids who have to learn how to take care of themselves and learn how to run their own little world. It’s a bit different because it’s definitely co-ed, and it takes place in our modern society. It takes place in what looks like our home. It looks like home that we all know, but it feels different. My character, Allie, is thrust into this position of power but rather reluctantly. She’s just a girl that grew up in a way where she didn’t have to really announce anything, she always lived in her sister’s shadow, and now she has to decide how much food people can eat and if everyone should have their own house. It’s like, all of a sudden overnight she becomes this queen on this new place, and she has to do it, she has to make these hard decisions or else everything will fall apart. It really plays on the idea, to me, of thinking about what really matters in our lives. Who are we? If money wasn’t a thing and we didn’t have to follow laws, who would we be? It asked every character on the show that question, and I think as you’re watching it and the characters reflect I’m also thinking, what would I do? I’m nothing like Allie! There’s no way I would be the head of that society in any way. I mean, I would be the person who hides in my house with a thousand bags of hot Cheetos!

Allie and her sister Cassandra (played by Legion’s Rachel Keller)

Can you talk about the relationship between Allie and her sister Cassandra?

When you first start watching the show you’re thrown into a bunch of new people. I mean, it’s a very big cast. And you get little sneak peeks into who they are and their lives, and Allie and Cassandra are clearly very close sisters, and they love each other. But Allie doesn’t ever think she has to announce anything in her live because her sister is a A student, she’s the popular girl, she’s the class president. Everyone loves Cassandra. Allie is happy about that, but she just feels like that’s how her life is always going to be. She doesn’t think she has to try very hard, she doesn’t think she has to announce much because Cassandra is always going to be a little better. They’re also very lucky because when everything goes wrong and they’re alone without their parents, they still have each other, which is a big advantage. 

When Cassandra dies, she has a heart condition, and in the new society there are no doctors and no X-rays and no one to help with sickness. We revert back to prehistoric ages! We’re in the dark ages now! It’s survival of the fittest. I think that’s something that goes over their heads, not just with Cassandra but with anybody. If you get a cold or you just get sick, who’s going to take care of you? Your mom is not going to be thereto look after you. I found that a very interesting part of the show. I don’t know what I would do if there were no doctors, you know?

What will make the show stand out from the other teen dramas being made by Netflix right now? 

I thought it was a very fun show to watch. It’s so suspenseful and also has funny moments, and I really love the relationships. I love the relationship thing. I love when a boy likes a girl, all that lovey-dovey stuff in a TV show, so I think people who want to see that will get to see what, and people who want to be at the edge of their seat will also really like this show. We ask really tough questions and there are tough things you have to watch and sit through to get through to the lovey-dovey scenes. It’s a very dark show. I don’t even want to talk about it like it is a fun, light-hearted TV show because it’s not. I was watching with my mom, and she was saying, ‘I can’t watch this! I need to go, I can’t see this! Oh my god!’ I don’t know what people are going to think. I know that I love all the relationships on the TV show but it’s also a very smart show. You really have to pay attention. So if you’re into that and you want to fall in love with these characters, you will.

What was the most challenging aspect of shooting The Society?

The most challenging aspect was playing Allie. She’s playing someone who has to decide who lives and dies, if people are going to live and die. People are counting on her to survive and she’s mourning the death of her beloved sister. She feels that she’s never going to be good enough. She feels she doesn’t deserve the position of power. The fact that she has to make these choices is a really complex thing. I found that while we were shooting I was going home at night in a really, really dark place. I’d have to watch The Office and take a bath every night and try to laugh. I came home after filming and my mom was like, ‘What’s wrong with you? You’re different!’ It’s weird, but honestly it was great. As an actor, a took her to a really deep place, and I didn’t take it lightly. [Creator] Chris Keyser and [director] Mark Webb were really supportive of all of our characters and helped us go there, particularly in the writing; it was on the page already. I really tried to put myself in that place. When you think about that, it wouldn’t be very fun.

The Society Season 1 is available to stream on Netflix now. Get all the latest sci-fi news with every issue of SciFiNow. 

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