Kitty Covey is all grown up and stepping out on her own in Netflix’s XO, Kitty, the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before spinoff series.
Anna Cathcart was only 13 years old when she was first introduced as the matchmaking younger Covey sister in the original movie trilogy with Lana Condor and Noah Centineo, and seven years later, the spotlight is on her as she becomes the romantic lead.
“It was very interesting to have that experience of coming back to a character that I have so much love for, but it’s also in a very new environment — and a new time of their life. I’ve been comparing it to coming back to an old friend that you haven’t seen for many years,” the 19-year-old actress told ET’s Deidre Behar ahead of XO, Kitty‘s launch on Thursday alongside co-star Anthony Keyvan, who plays “Q,” “because you have to relearn them and see what they’ve been going though [these] last [few] years.”
“She’s grown so much and there’s parts about her that I kind of have to introduce myself to, but also, there’s so many things that are familiar. And that spirit of Kitty that we know from the movies still carries through in the show,” Cathcart promised. “You still kind of feel the same To All the Boys magic, but in a new, established world. So it was fun to create that balance and to figure out what that meant.”
XO, Kitty follows Kitty, who believes she knows everything there is to know about love. (After all, she did — in a small way — kickstart Lara Jean and Peter’s romance in the To All the Boys movies.) But when she makes the bold decision to move across the world to reunite with her long-distance boyfriend, Dae (Minyeong Choi), in South Korea, she’ll soon realize that relationships are a lot more complicated when it’s your own heart on the line.
With Kitty older and experiencing love for the first time, Cathcart said it’s been satisfying evolving with the character and understanding the conflicts and inner turmoil that her character’s sister, Lara Jean, felt throughout the To All the Boys films.
“It’s so fun to get to grow with the character and I think viewers feel that way. But I definitely feel that way because I kind of grew up holding hands with Kitty. We kind of got to do it together, which was really special,” the actress said of portraying a more mature Kitty in this series. “But she’s 17 now, so it’s very different when she was 12, 13, 11 [years old]. That time of life is also kind of where Lara Jean was… where I’m turning into Lara Jean and it’s Kitty realizing, ‘Oh, those things I used to make fun of you for, you used to not understand because I was a kid. Now I get it and now it’s my turn. So it definitely has that dynamic of her love life and when things are her own stakes.”
Cathcart praised her onscreen sisters, Condor and Janel Parrish (who played eldest Covey sister Margot), for being great role models for her to look to for advice and support.
“I’m so proud of everything that they’re doing,” she said. “I’ve been talking to them as an actor and as a friend who’s turning to them for support and this experience because I’ve never really been the lead and not have something like this. And to have someone to turn to when you need it really makes a big difference,” she credited.
Filming primarily took place on location in South Korea, which Cathcart and Keyvan said added to the “immediate” bond that the cast had once cameras started rolling.
“I’ve been doing this my whole life and I’ve never really experienced such a cast that is so willing to work and everyone left their egos at home and just had the same common goal,” Keyvan noted.
“And we all had so much love for each other and so much support, which I feel like that means so much and makes such a difference when you’re working together and you’re in this — for us especially, we moved from the other side of the world for this experience,” Cathcart added, revealing that the cast often got together for karaoke and fried chicken hangouts. “We got to go to international school ourselves. New friends and new challenges and new experiences… And to have each other’s support in that and to have a safe space within our group made a huge difference for sure.”
The first season of XO, Kitty features 10 episodes and also stars Gia Kim as Yuri, Sang Heon Lee as Min Ho, Peter Turnwald as Alex and Regan Aliyah, who will play Juliana. They will be joined by recurring stars Yunjin Kim, who plays Jina; Michael K. Lee as Professor Lee; and Jocelyn Selfo, who will step into the part of Madison. John Corbett and Sarayu Blue also return to reprise their To All the Boys characters.
XO, Kitty premieres Thursday, May 18 on Netflix.
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