Detention turns to murder for, left to right, Cooper van Grootel, Chibuikem Uche, Mark McKenna, Annalisa Cochrane and Marianly Tejada. Photo courtesy of Peacock
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 7 (UPI) -- Cast members of One of Us Is Lying, premiering Thursday on Peacock, said their characters' secrets bond them together. Annalisa Cochrane, Barrett Carnahan, Chibuike Uche, Jessica McLeod, Melissa Collazo, Marianly Tejada and Cooper van Grootel play high school students questioned in the death of another student (Mark McKenna).
"Under these strange circumstances, they become such a great group of friends," van Grootel told UPI in a Zoom interview. "They're almost forced to band together, but it's beautiful, and the friendships flourish throughout the season."
Nate (van Grootel), Addy (Cochrane), Cooper (Uche), Bronwyn (Tejada) and Simon (McKenna) are given detention. During detention, Simon dies from a peanut allergy.
The police believe Simon was poisoned and suspect each detention student, along with classmates Jake (Carnahan) and Janae (McLeod), and Bronwyn's sister, Maeve (Collazo). Each of them is keeping a secret that may give them a motive for Simon's murder.
"We all had secrets that we feel are like the most important thing in the world to us," Uche said. "Whenever that's the case, you're going to have young people who are willing to do anything to protect those secrets."
Simon was running a website called About That, in which he exposed his classmates' secrets. About That may have had incriminating information on each classmate.
"Secrets to Simon are like currency," McKenna, 25, said. "If he knows something about you, he'll come to you and tell you. The only way that you can get out of him posting it is if you tell him something about somebody else."
Janae was friends with Simon. McLeod, 24, said solving Simon's murder brought the classmates closer together.
"I think one of the lovely things about this show is that it's really about friendship," McLeod said. "It's about people who are very different finding each other and supporting each other through a crazy traumatic ride."
Most students in the school did not like Simon because he threatened to expose them all on About That. Tejada said Bronwyn saw Simon as an academic rival, and that makes her a suspect.
"Everybody knows how seriously she takes her academics and how far she's willing to go to protect that," Tejada said.
Jake and Addy are boyfriend and girlfriend. Carnahan, 29, said the murder mystery threatens the couple.
"If you think that you have it all together the way these two people do, they're just destined for failure," Carnahan said.
Cochrane, 25, said that Addy was amused by Simon's posts when he was tearing down her other classmates. Now, Addy worries her secret can still be exposed after Simon's death.
"It's funny to her until it's about her and her friends," Cochrane said. "Then it starts to be a little bit of a problem for Addy and adds to her anxiety."
Simon continues to appear on the series in flashbacks. McKenna said he played Simon differently depending on the context of the flashback.
"Maybe someone's misremembering the situation they went through or they remember a very specific version of Simon," McKenna said. "I got to play with this idea of working in a new Simon depending on who I'm working with and what the scene is."
The cast filmed the pilot for One Of Us Is Lying two years ago. The COVID-19 pandemic delayed production.
The show filmed in New Zealand. It is based on the book by Karen McManus, first published in 2017.
Cochrane and Carnahan both previously appeared on the Netflix hit Cobra Kai. However, they had no scenes together.
Carnahan played young John Kreese in flashbacks to the Vietnam War. Cochrane played a modern day high school student.
"We both have had such good separate experiences," Cochrane said. "He won't tell you this, but he definitely followed me on Instagram before he got the role."
Carnahan said he filmed his season 3 role on Cobra Kai just before he was cast in One Of Us Is Lying. Carnahan said Cobra Kai fans are excited to see him have scenes with Cochrane.
"It's also fun to see the Cobra Kai fandom obsessing over the fact that there's two people in the Cobra Kai universe in this show," Carnahan said.
New episodes of One Of Us Is Lying premiere Thursdays on Peacock.