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Warning: This interview contains spoilers for XO, Kitty Season 1. Anna Cathcart thought it was a joke when the creators of the To All the Boys movies first told her the idea for XO, Kitty. “In my mind, it was just an idea that people had. It did not at all seem like a real thing,” she tells STYLECASTER. “It was just like, ‘Oh, how crazy would it be?’”
Cathcart played Katherine “Kitty” Song-Covey—the younger sister of Lara Jean Song-Covey—in Netflix’s To all the Boys I’ve Loved Before movies, which were based on the books of the same name by Jenny Han. She was on the set of the third movie, Always and Forever, in 2019 when the creators first approached her with the idea for a To All the Boys spin-off series based entirely around Kitty. “Many years passed and there were different setbacks with COVID and other things. Then near the end of 2021, it started becoming very real,” Cathcart recalls. “I was told it was going to be at an international school and we’ll probably all be in Korea, but I still wasn’t sure it was real. I don’t think it really hit me until I was on the plane like, ‘Oh, I’m going to Korea to shoot this show. We have a whole cast. We have a whole new world that we’re about to build. It’s a real thing.’”
XO, Kitty follows Kitty, who is now 16 years old and a junior in high school, as she moves from her hometown of Portland to Seoul, South Korea, to attend the Independent School of Seoul—also known as KISS. The move is meant to surprise Kitty’s long-distance boyfriend, Dae, whom she met in the third To All the Boys movie, but as fans of the films know, not everything goes as planned.
Ahead, Cathcart talked to STYLECASTER about Kitty’s love triangle (square?), who she thinks fans will ship the most, that unexpected Yuri twist, and who “Simon” is in the Season 1 finale cliffhanger.
How does XO, Kitty show a different Kitty than the Kitty fans saw in the To All the Boys movies?
This is four or five years later from when we last saw Kitty. It’s definitely her in a brand-new time of her life and environment. One of her defining qualities in her personality in the movies is that she’s very sure of herself and totally competent. She feels like she’s got this. Now, for the first time, those feelings are shifting around her and she doesn’t have it all under control. That’s something new for her. When you reach a new stage of your life, things get turned upside down and she’s learning that that’s OK. That’s all part of growing up.
Love is not always so simple. Sometimes it’s unexpected, even to yourself.
Kitty’s dad and Trina appear in XO, Kitty. But were there any discussions to have Lara Jean or other characters make cameos in the show?
The showrunners and everybody were really excited to create a new world within the universe and establish Kitty’s brand-new dynamics and new characters who excited for people to meet. That was definitely a focus. We were hoping to create a new environment while still keeping it in the world of To All the Boys, and I love that Kitty still references them and talks to everybody, including her dad, and we still have these characters.
I want to talk about the main twist in the XO, Kitty, which is Kitty’s feelings for Yuri. When did you find out about that storyline and what was your reaction?
I was told a while ago way before I had the scripts and before the details were figured out. I was told this was something Kitty would be figuring out and something that’s a part of who she is. I was excited that our show was going to explore that type of storyline and see that part of Kitty. I think our show explores it in a special way for viewers to see that Kitty is someone who doesn’t see it coming either. There’s a lot of different ways that queer stories can be portrayed. Our show does a great job at showing that diversity. There’s a lot of different queer characters and every one of their experiences is not the same, which is very accurate to real life. It’s not like everyone goes through the same path of figuring it out. By the end of the season, Kitty still doesn’t have it figured out. It’s not like she’s trying to find herself and then she finds it. She’s still in the process. She doesn’t know exactly what these things mean or if there’s a label that suits her or what she’s gonna do next. I liked that we showed that because it’s not a simple thing all the time. It’s not something that can just be tied up with a bow, and you’ll be like, “Oh, I got it now. That makes sense to me.” She’s in a process and it doesn’t end super easily. I like that she’s giving herself the space to figure that out. She’s not apologizing for what she’s feeling and what she’s going through, as well as the people in her life are so supportive, which is not the experience that everybody has in real life. But I love that we get to portray a dynamic like that. Her dad is so, so supportive and so loving. One of my favorite scenes of the whole series, honestly, is her FaceTiming her dad when she’s feeling really low, and just the way that her dad accepts that and welcomes her with so much love and that his priority is her safety and how she’s doing is so special to see.
Where do you think Kitty is at with her sexuality?
She’s giving herself the space to dive in and figure that out, which I know is not an easy thing to do at any stage of your life, especially when you’re in high school and there’s so much going on around you and you’re growing up. I’m proud of her for doing that and for not being sorry for it. She’s being honest with herself and with the people she loves, which is not an easy thing to do. She’s just taking her time, which is a great reminder as well for viewers, and hopefully people can find comfort in her journey.
I want to talk about the love square between Kitty, Dae, Mihho and Yuri. How is Kitty’s relationship with each of them different?
They definitely all represent very different things, and they show a different side of Kitty. Dae is somebody who she’s been with for a really long time since she was very little. He’s her first love and her first relationship. In her mind, going to Korea was so perfect and clear-cut. She was like, “Oh, this is it. It’s gonna be me and him forever, and I figured it out.” And Yuri does a very great job at showing her that love is not always so simple. Sometimes it’s unexpected, even to yourself. Feelings are things that can be difficult to control. But that’s also what makes them so exciting and beautiful. There are so many ups and downs with love. Then Minho, this is something she doesn’t see coming at all at all. I think it’s coming more from Minho’s side than it is from Kitty’s side. The way the season ends is her taking a step back and realizing all these doors are being crashed down around her and all these unexpected things can pop up and she really can’t predict what’s gonna happen next. She gets on that plane feeling very proud of herself. Things might be overwhelming and messy right now, but it’s all exciting. She learned and she grew throughout her dynamics with all three of them. They’ve definitely changed her in different ways that she’s grateful for.
There’s a lot of different ways that queer stories can be portrayed. It’s not like everyone goes through the same path of figuring it out.
Who do you want Kitty to end up with?
They all provide different things and, for Kitty, something I’ve admired about her is that she really does follow her heart and does things that feel right for her, not because someone else is pushing her toward it. I hope that In the future she continues to do that and ends up with the person that she feels is right. I trust Kitty that she’ll do that. As long as she follows her heart, I ship whoever she ships.
Is there a ship you think will be the most popular with fans?
I feel like fans will like the Minho ship because it’s fun, like enemies to lovers. I love their banter and dynamic of not really liking each other and her kind of getting on his nerves and then that flipping. It’s a really fun storyline to see. But I don’t know. I’m really curious. That’s one of my favorite parts. I can’t wait to see what fans have to say.
The season ended with a cliffhanger about Kitty’s mom and a character named “Simon.” Do you know who Simon is?
Truly, I do not know anything about Simon. Something that’s so funny is on the day we were shooting that scene, originally in the script, it just said “him” and then Kitty’s character being like, “Him? Who’s him?” Then while we were shooting, Sasha, one of our screenwriters, was like, “Why don’t we just give him a name? Because it’s way more fun.” She’s like, “Umm, Simon.” I was like, “What? That’s so random? Where did you get that?” She was like, “I don’t know. Just go for it.” Then that’s what we used. People really have no idea how last minute it was. There was always going to be a “him.” But his name was given literally on the day as we were shooting the scene. I truly do not know much about him at all. I’m also dying to see what that means and what that storyline could hold.
Do you have any theories about who Simon is?
There are just so many possibilities. It’s definitely the whole photo with the hand that’s holding her mom’s hand behind the tree. It’s someone at KISS. Someone when she was younger. For Kitty, someone who hasn’t even had a relationship with her mom at any point in her mom’s life, to think about her teenage mom’s years and thinking about her when she was her age is extra special.
Feelings are things that can be difficult to control, but that’s also what makes them so exciting and beautiful.
How do you relate to Kitty’s journey of finding more about her background?
Growing up, as somebody who is mixed and half Asian, I have always been very proud of my background. I was lucky that I grew up in Vancouver, somewhere where there’s a lot of mixed people. There’s a lot of Asian populations. I was in an environment where I felt I could celebrate that and embrace it, which I know was not everybody’s experience. Now getting older and getting to learn more about different traditions and cultures and find out what that means to my mom, it’s definitely something that is important to me. For Kitty, it’s becoming more of a priority as she gets older as well just because she’s in a stage where she’s realizing she wants to find that connection and sees the importance of it. It was really special to get to explore that through Kitty because her mom is a big part of who she is but she’s grown up learning about her from other people, so KISS is finally her turn to get to be there face to face with something her mom experienced and get closer to her in her own way.
Jenny Han, the author of the To All the Boys books, makes a cameo as an airline agent in the first episode. How did that come about?
Jenny tries to have a cameo in all of her projects. I love the little Easter eggs for fans to see her in different random environments and you don’t expect it. It was so much fun to shoot because that scene actually got cut. It was a much longer scene at the time, and I had a whole long speech, a really long monologue. To be there with Jenny and speak these words that she wrote in front of her was such a cool dynamic. and we had a lot of fun as well.It was a really fun day on set.
What are your hopes for Season 2?
There are so many different directions this story could go in. The season ends with a lot of possibilities. Kitty thinks that she’s not welcome back at KISS. Some characters know that, some characters don’t know that. I would love to see what happens with that, if she’s coming back to the school or if she’s just going home. There’s a lot of dynamics. I love Q and Kitty’s friendship. I would love to see that blossom more and get to know Q’s background and his character and how that comes into play with Kitty’s friendship because I think he’s a special dynamic for her. He’s really her confidant and a true friend who doesn’t have a lot of drama, but more someone who can listen to her love drama and be her support system. I just hope Kitty continues to give herself the space to figure it out and follows her heart.
XO, Kitty is available to stream on Netflix.