Nile Bullock Says Filming “Cruel Summer” Was a Dream – and Promises a “Wow” Finale
In our Q&A series Last Call, we get down to the bottom of every last thing with some of our favorite celebs – from the last time they were starstruck to the last song they listened to. This week, “Cruel Summer” star Nile Bullock takes our call.
In season two of “Cruel Summer,” Nile Bullock’s Jeff is the nice guy. The too-nice guy – he’s polite and mostly unresentful when his love interest passes him up for his best friend. At least, as far as viewers have seen so far, with just a few episodes left to go in this second installment of the drama-thriller anthology series. This go-around, the mystery is set in a small Pacific Northwest town amid a complicated love triangle between friends Megan Landry (Sadie Stanley), Isabella LaRue (Lexi Underwood), and Luke Chambers (Griffin Gluck). When a tragedy occurs, “Cruel Summer” uses its signature format to travel through time and unpack what led to the fatality.
“I’m watching with the rest of the world and just doing it live,” Bullock tells POPSUGAR of how the mystery is unfolding. “I’m trying to remember everything that happened as it goes on. There’s so much that I forgot about.” Bullock admits that he was new to the “Cruel Summer” universe when he booked the role of Jeff, a high school filmmaker in the aughts-set show. Of course, a binge session was in order. Quickly, he says, “I was hooked.” The cast were also quickly hooked – to each other. Filming in Vancouver, Canada, led to a “camp-like experience,” he says, and made bonds form fast.
Says Bullock, “Everybody’s so great. We bonded so much just overall throughout everything. Shooting days, there were times where we went out and just did little extracurriculars together. We went to movies, we got dinner, did some hiking trips. Everybody’s from different corners of the world, and we’ve got such a diverse and unique cast. So it was just great to meet people from all over, and everybody was super passionate and on their A game.” All in all, filming the series “was a great, beautiful bonding experience.”
Bullock started out as a child actor, with parts in “Law & Order: SVU,” “Orange Is the New Black,” and “Power Book III: Raising Kanan.” He is also a musician and teases a future album (right now, he’s focused on “trying to grow my artistry, and play with different sounds and just experiment with different things.”). In this latest onscreen role, though, it’s less music and more film that his character’s obsessed with. Bullock appreciated the opportunity to “learn how to play with those old-school VHS camcorders” as part of his prep work for “Cruel Summer.” He also immersed himself in R&B music from the early 2000s, and luckily, Jeff’s attire wasn’t too much of a leap from Bullock’s personal style, which he calls “very Y2K.”
“I find myself going through those same phases a lot, being the person that wants to be involved and is always kind of putting their creativeness out into the world, whatever that is.”
Jeff, Bullock summarizes, is “a quirky, misunderstood, lovable guy” – someone Bullock personally relates to. That “introvert slash extrovert type of person,” Bullock says. He elaborates, “I find myself going through those same phases a lot, being the person that wants to be involved and is always kind of putting their creativeness out into the world, whatever that is, especially with Jeff and his camera. But also being the observant one, and also I know what it is to have a crush on somebody and then have to watch them have feelings for somebody – we’ve all been in that pocket before.”
But does Jeff’s dark side come out due to jealousy over unrequited feelings? Bullock laughs, admitting that some of Jeff’s reaction to the loss of his crush is “sus.” He asserts, though, that he was “very, very surprised” by how this season’s mystery plays out. “There’s so many suspects, and so many theories that people come up with, and so many conversations that are brewed from the show, that it literally can make you think it could be anybody,” he tells POPSUGAR. “But when I did get to read the ending, I was like, ‘Wow.’ “
“Cruel Summer” airs on Mondays on Freeform at 10 p.m. ET. Keep reading for more about Bullock, including his favorite discount site for trendy clothes.
What was the last day on the “Cruel Summer” set like?
I’m having flashbacks right now. That was a bittersweet day, of course. I remember that being a super-special day for me, too – because the show was being written while we were recording, so we had no idea where the heck stuff was going to go. And I remember me kind of thinking that I wasn’t going to be on this season for this long, and I ended up being here for the full season, which was a complete blessing. They got me my cast chair with my name on it on the last day of shooting. And that was just super dope to me. It was a nice real little parting gift, and it was such a bittersweet day, but it was so much fun. . . . We were all just bonding, talking about the experience that we just had and our expectations for the show going forward. It is crazy looking back and thinking that this all happened; it still feels like a dream.
Who was the last costar you texted?
Oh man, it was definitely Tedra Rogers [Amy in “Cruel Summer”]. That’s my girl, I love Tedra. That’s one of my besties from the set. It was either her, or Lisa Yamada [Parker], or it might have been Griffin Gluck [Luke]. My peoples.
What was the last song that you listened to?
It was “Power Moves” by NBTalented, who also happens to be me. No lie. That actually I think was the last song I listened to. I’ve been listening to some original stuff and also a lot of SZA too. Shout-out to SZA. [She] be going crazy.
What is the last show that you binge-watched?
It was “Severance.” God damn, that show is good. Shout-out to my brother and my dad. They got me to sit down and binge that. . . . I be picky with the sh*t I be watching.
What is the last thing that you bought online?
It’s probably some pants, some really baggy pants from AliExpress.
What was the last thing you did for self-care?
I consider this self-care: I really like to take walks in the rain. Well, not thunderstorms, because I be chicken. I’m not trying to get struck by lightning. Of course, I’m not that crazy. But if it’s pouring, I legitimately don’t care. People freak the hell out when it starts pouring and raining and torrential downpours. I will go outside with my shirt off and just stand there – I’ll take that over a shower sometimes. Something about rainwater is just really soothing to me.
What was the last trip that you went on or vacation?
It was Montego Bay in Jamaica. When I went to Jamaica, that was my first time because I hadn’t been on a vacation in so long before I took that trip. And I remember looking at the water out there and then just thinking about going to the beach in New Jersey. And I was like, “Damn, the US is dirty.” The water was so clear and blue. And I remember the last time I went to the beach out here, it was like in Asbury Park and that water was the color of . . . I don’t know what. So I love my tropical beaches and just being in tropical places, and getting that really good pure water. So I’m definitely a beach person when it’s the right setting.
When was the last time you were starstruck?
That’s a really good question. I think it’s between two people. One, when I met Jessica Biel on the set of “Cruel Summer.” I couldn’t even speak. And then it was also definitely when I got to see Zendaya at her first concert before she really, really, really blew up, in New York City. And it was at what is now the PlayStation Theater. I got backstage passes somehow and I got to meet her. That’s my everything. That was absolutely amazing for me – she’s such a super-big inspiration to me. I was starstruck, I was gone after that. I didn’t know how to function.