“I’m gonna go in my sweater!” Outer Banks star Chase Stokes groaned from a couch in a West Hollywood hotel on a sunny February day. Then he followed through on his word, burrowing into his burnt sienna-coloured sweater; his soon-to-be Twitter-famous waves disappearing inside of the cosy garment. All Stokes’ couchmate and Outer Banks love interest Madelyn Cline could do in the moment was laugh.
Usually, you would only get such a reaction out of a Netflix cast member if you demanded they spoil the last five minutes of their upcoming season. Or, even more dangerously, brought up some still-unconfirmed but much-hoped for future season. But neither of those topics are what drove Stokes — who plays 16-year-old Outer Banks hero John B. — into momentary hiding. Instead, Stokes was asked about the very beginning of his new streaming series. Or, more specifically, why John B.’s opening narration in Outer Banks’ series premiere wonders why — oh, why! — cool girl Kiara (Madison Bailey) would ever hang out with a bunch of lowly working class “Pogues” like John B. and his friends Pope (Jonathan Daviss) and JJ (Rudy Pankow).
The answer is, obviously, that all together, this foursome looks like an old school Hollister ad come to life. Of course their relentless collective beauty would inevitably pull them all together — especially on a sultry YA thriller. Yet, the Outer Banks cast swears their production team didn’t mean to assemble an Avengers-level crew of sun-kissed dreamboats.
“The crazy thing is, Jonas Pate, our showrunner, was like, I didn’t cast for looks. He’s like, I cast for chemistry,” Cline explained, sitting next to Stokes and kicking off a pattern that you slowly realise is the default for the Outer Banks cast: finishing each other’s sentences. “If you meet the guy, he is the most outdoorsy...” Stokes began. “...Down-to-earth dude,” Cline continued.
“He does not care about that. He wanted people who were honest. Real human beings who could portray the type of experiences that were going on in Outer Banks,” Cline — aka misunderstood rich teen Sarah — added. “So he cast a majority of the show based on not social media presence. He immediately was X-ing out people who weren’t able to bring the performance and was looking at their social media like, Are they taking a bunch of selfies? What’s their M.O.?”
Stokes and Cline’s co-stars concur. “Jonas says that he accidentally casted all attractive people,” Madison Bailey recalled later that day. “He was like, You guys were all just good!” Jonathan Daviss, who portrays muscular nerd Pope, nodded in agreement. Still even Daviss had his own speculation and jokingly continued, “I did say when they cast Rudy and Chase, Wow, so they just found the male models? Do they just so happen to be able to act really, really well?”
Yet, the longer you watch Outer Banks, the more you realise the Pogues are brought together by a shared spirit more than their matching high cheekbones.
“I think our characters connect because all of them want a real friendship,” Bailey said. Rudy Pankow, who plays mischief-happy semi-stoner JJ, added, “If [Pope] can’t pull a joke, or he only pulls dad jokes, the Pogues don’t care. At least he’s trying and he’s out there with us. JJ is like, If you’re gonna be talking about your clothes to me… I don’t care. Can we go outside and do something?” It is true that the Outer Banks crew is almost never stationary. Over season 1’s 10 episodes, you’ll see the cast surf, boat, dive, ride stolen jets skis, and surreptitiously paddleboard away from law enforcement, and that mostly only covers John B.’s antics.
The Outer Banks cast themselves also found their connection in going out and “doing something,” as they often say. “The chemistry didn’t get cemented in the auditions to me. It happened when we actually hung out,” Daviss said. It was easy for the on-screen pals to spend time together off-set, as most of them lived in the same Charleston, SC apartment complex during filming.
“Rudy and I were roommates,” Stokes explained. “[Jonathan] lived down the hall. Maddie was a floor below us. Austin [North, who plays Topper] was three doors down. In our house, we had this giant beanbag chair and whether it was UCF fights or jamming out to music, or going to the beach, there was so much to do … It was a constant party, hanging out with each other. You never knew who was going to be asleep in the living room in the morning.”
If this story sounds a lot like Outer Banks’ premiere montage in John B.’s home — nicknamed “The Chateau” — the cast knows, as Cline said the vibe in Stokes and Pankow’s apartment was “literally” the same as that pilot introduction. In fact, the cast took the similarities one step further by spending a night on the Chateau set.
“They were like, Cast sleepover! We all hung out,” Bailey said. What followed was an evening of pizza, poker, ceramics painting, and competitive slingshot usage. The cast places empty oyster shells on the branches of the trees outside of the Chateau and shot them off with a slingshot (Pankow brought it). “So all the boys were out there shooting these oyster shells. For like, a long time,” Bailey continued. “They were like, this is really hard. I was like, I’m gonna try. It was literally one and done for me. I was like, Okay!”
As if the Pogues needed another reason to want to hang out with Kiara.