ComingSoon Senior Editor Spencer Legacy talks to School Spirits stars Peyton List, Nick Pugliese, and Sarah Yarkin in the Paramount+ series. The trio talks about acting like a ghost and getting into character. The series is now available on Paramount+.
“In the series, Maddie, a teenage girl who remains in the afterlife investigates her mysterious disappearance,” reads the synopsis. “Maddie goes on a crime-solving journey as she adjusts to high school and the afterlife, but the closer she gets to uncovering the truth, the more secrets and lies she uncovers.”
Spencer Legacy: Peyton, what was it about Maddie that drew you in when you first read about her?
Peyton’s List: I love the parallels between the living version of Maddie and then the dead version of Maddie. I love all the flashbacks and going to … I feel like I’m playing two different people. So that’s what attracted me at first.
Nick, Charlie really stood up to me. He’s a ghost from the ’90s. He has this interesting balance of being forever young, but very wise. How do you play someone who is both 16 and 40?
Nick Pugliese: Well, I’m 40, so … no, I’m just kidding.
Sarah Yarkin: Kind of…
Nick Pugliese: Actually in the writing, I don’t have to … it’s not so much an imagination because the way he writes is very likable and charismatic and supportive. I don’t know.
Sarah Yarkin: You don’t bring any of that to the character.
Nick Pugliese: That’s a quick cop-out. I just read the words on the page.
Sarah, Rhonda had a powerful moment in the third episode when she talked about her passing. How did you get into that heavy headspace for that scene?
Sarah Yarkin: I’m always there. No. I used to cry — I cried a lot. I don’t know.
Nick Pugliese: It’s true.
Sarah Yarkin: It’s really interesting because I think, as an actor, when you’re like, “And then you have your emotional scene,” there’s all this pressure to be like, “If I don’t make it, I’m going to fail. ” But there was something about Nate and Megan [Trinrud], the creators of our show, that even if they tell me parts of our characters, or they’re like, “You know what, there’s something.” Or we were in the classroom once and they said, “This is the room you died in.”
The way he and Oliver did [Goldstick], our showrunner, will explain my character, even just talking to me about him… I feel so much. Like it really feels – I don’t know, in a psycho way – very personal when they’re like, “You’re dying here.” And I stood up and I said, “What? Like this room I’ve been in this whole time?” So I don’t know. There’s something, I think, when you’re with a character for a little while, you start to feel personal about it. He is just elements of me. So when I told this story, I said, “Yes, this is my story.”
Peyton, Maddie is the newest ghost at first, so she’s not used to people not seeing her. What was it like playing this unique role where most other actors had to ignore you?
Peyton’s List: It takes a lot of getting used to. It was very awkward at first. We didn’t rehearse before starting, because I just wanted everything to be natural. So adjusting to that was weird, I think, for a lot of people in the background who couldn’t watch me, because we could do anything. We have the freedom to do anything and disturb people in the living world. But yes, it is a challenge.
Nick, there’s a great scene during Field Day where you destroy a tackle dummy with a javelin like Milo [Manheim]The character is talking about getting frustrated. How much fun was filming?
Nick Pugliese: That was a lot of fun. It’s really tiring because I just choose to be crazy at the beginning of the day and then I just keep going. But you know, the funny thing is a lot of the sounds I make I actually have to go in and dub after the fact. So I’m just here in this booth making javelin-like moans.
Sarah Yarkin: I heard you do it during the day too,
Nick Pugliese: Yes, I do it during the day too.
Peyton’s List: Nothing made me laugh as hard during the entire shoot as that scene. That was it.
Nick Pugliese: That was fun. It was a fun day.