“Dead of Summer” isn’t just a feeling you get when you’re bored on summer break, but also the name of Freeform’s new thriller show. It’s summertime in the 1980s, and Camp Stillwater, a Midwestern summer camp, is about to re-open. Campers and counselors are excited for a summer full of fun, but instead they get a summer full of scares.
Mark Indelicato, who you may recognize from “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody” and “Ugly Betty,” now stars as camp counselor Blair Ramos in “Dead of Summer.” In this exclusive interview with Mark, we learn more about him, his character, the show, and what it’s like being a part of the newly transitioned Freeform!
So first thing’s first, I actually grew up watching you on Suite Life, and Floss is one of my favorite musical numbers of all time! (Mark had a good laugh at this) What kind of music do you enjoy listening to now?
I recently over the last year have been completely obsessed with disco culture and disco music, so I’m new to disco. I listen to a lot of like old, well not old, disco music and like pop music from the 70s. I mean David Bowie is my idol so: David Bowie, Queen, Elton John, ELO, Parliament, Love from Donna Summer, Grace Jones, and the Spice Girls.
Well now you have a new show on Freeform called Dead of Summer and on that show you play Blair Ramos. Can you tell me more about your character?
Yeah sure! I don’t really know that much about Blair. We’re still shooting the season so every episode revolves around one individual character and what brought them to camp. So what I do know … we haven’t shot my episode yet so I can’t tell you about that, but Blair is a former camper at Camp Stillwater and is returning now as a counselor. So, he’s quite well versed in the traditions and the kind of summer fun at Camp Stillwater, and also has forged these relationships with these other counselors that you’ll meet. He’s kind of your quintessential gay best friend, you know, he has his sidekick, or they’re both each other’s sidekicks and they know each other well. He’s just a loyal friend. He’s kind of looking for love, or for a summer fling, as we all are during the summer. I think that there’s a lot I’m still excited to learn more about Blair.
For what you know about Blair now, are you anything like him?
You know what, its funny, I think that I am a lot like him, more so than any character I’ve ever played. Where I find a lot of the cast are so different from their characters, I’m very much the same. He’s a really loyal friend. He’s a really great person but he’s also snarky and sassy and could be a little bit mean. And I feel the same way about myself, so.
Well, we always need a little sass in our life, don’t we?
Right! Thank you!
So the show takes place in a summer camp. Did you ever go to summer camp when you were younger, and if so what was your experience like?
I did not go to summer camp. I have never had any desire to go to summer camp, so that’s kind of ironic. I’m getting a quasi summer camp experience, now, so I guess its never too late.
Do you feel like you ever missed out? Or are you kind of glad you never did?
I don’t really think I’m the summer camp kind of person, like I don’t think I was cut out for it. And I don’t think my parents never thought I was cut out for it either, which is probably why they didn’t send me.
Though the show is a bit dark and sinister, were there any fun pranks behind the scenes while filming?
Yeah of course I mean we all immediately attached ourselves to one another and fostered deep friendships, so being on set as camp counselors and actually being friends really makes for a lot of fun. We are constantly laughing. I mean there’s not a day that we’re on set that we’re not cracking jokes at one another and having a lot of fun. I mean I know that in the beginning of the season, he doesn’t do it much now because he knows I’m onto him, but Alberto who plays Deputy Sykes used to jump out of bushes and come up behind me and scare me at 4 in the morning when I’m exhausted and sleeping on the floor.
Just you or everybody else?
Mostly me because he likes my reflex. Whenever I get scared I don’t make any noise, I just put my hands over my head and duck for some reason. I don’t scream and he just found that to be like the funniest thing ever. Which is NOT. It’s ridiculous. How many more times do you want me to put my hands up and duck out.
Well I guess he finds joy in it!
Yeah, I’m glad he does!
What are you most excited for people to see in the show?
I think that each and every character with the secrets that they carry, I mean it is a dark show, but I think that at the end of the day you can really identify with the struggles that every counselor is going through whether its: personal issues of the way that one looks, issues of sexuality, of being rejected by your crush, or witnessing someone you used to know and not really knowing them at all anymore. I think that every characters’ struggles are so relatable not even to just the teen audience but to an older audience, a young adult audience that was just recently going through these things. You know it sucks to be a teenager especially with a character like Amy coming into a new place as the new girl when all of these relationships and cliques have been formed and trying to find your way. I think the character like Amy is so relatable in that regard. And a character like Blair who’s looking for a summer romance and not really getting what he wants seemingly is so relatable to my own life. I think that all of these characters are really relatable and quite real.
What’s it like being a part of the Freeform family, after having such a huge transition from what was previously ABC Family?
I mean its been incredible. They’ve been treating us so well. They’re really excited about the show which is always really helpful. It’s definitely not a good sign when then network that’s airing your show is not as excited about it as you are. So its been great. I think that when you watch Dead of Summer, it really does get quite dark and there are some really real attributes to it that compliment the surreal horror and thrill. I think that in the scripts that we’ve been reading and shooting, the writers and cast have been given a lot of liberty by Freeform, kind of creative liberty to really portray these stories in as real of a way as we can. So we’re all so grateful to Freeform.
Tune-in Tuesday night, June 28th, at 9/8c on Freeform to watch the premiere of “Dead of Summer.” And as always, let us know what you think of the new show below or tweet us @PopHeartsTV!