Kitty Song Covey’s fascinating love life has nothing on the “XO, Kitty” cast’s real-life friendships. According to Anna Cathcart, who has portrayed Kitty on screen since the first “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” movie made its Netflix debut in 2018, the bond she shares with her castmates has made her journey as the character all the more worthwhile. “I am truly so grateful for all of them because they made such a huge difference,” she tells POPSUGAR. “It’s honestly what makes the experience at the end: the people that you meet and the friendships that you make.”
On screen, Cathcart and her costars — Gia Kim, Min-young Choi, Sang Heon Lee, Anthony Keyvan, and Jocelyn Shelfo — are inseparable. Even when their characters get on each other’s nerves or find themselves entangled in a complicated love triangle (read: love square), they can’t help but stay involved in each other’s lives. When the cameras cut, that tether remains just as strong.
“I remember feeling like this is what it means to have a family of friends, to have such an amazing, supportive group of people.”
“The fact that people still wanted to continue hanging out and be like, ‘Yeah, I know we just spent the entire 16-hour workday together, but let’s still have dinner together,’ was so special and, I think, rare,” Cathcart says. On one occasion, she and Keyvan even booked a last-minute flight to see their “XO, Kitty” billboard in Times Square together just days after seeing each other on set — proof that almost any time spent apart is too much. “[The group chat] is a lot of like, ‘Where are we going tonight? What’s happening tomorrow? I’m here,'” she says.
In addition to planning daily dinners, the cast usually pass their time on set with sing-alongs in their makeup chairs — usually with Cathcart or Lee on the aux — and countless inside jokes. She adds that the cast have even come up with code words and code names to speak to each other while they’re mic’d. “There’s, like, certain songs that now I’ll hear and I’ll feel like I’m back on set,” she says. “One is ‘Zoom’ by Jessi, which is K-pop and it’s such an upbeat hype song. And when that’s played, everyone is like, ‘We are at the “XO, Kitty” set,’ like, ‘We’re back.’ I think even in like 50 years, you can play that and I’ll be like, ‘I miss everybody.'”
When they’re not on set, the group divide their time between having tea at Lee’s apartment and teaching each other how to cook different meals. “Anthony made all of us pasta one night. That’s one of, like, my favorite core memories of the whole experience,” Cathcart says. “We all sat around on the floor of his hotel and ate homemade food and we all just, like, got to know each other because we were still relatively new. And I remember feeling like this is what it means to have a family of friends, to have such an amazing, supportive group of people. It was so cute.”
Looking back on her experience filming season one, Cathcart says it’s these small moments that have stuck with her the most. “It’s so funny to look back on it now and remember all the little things,” she says. “Those were some of the best moments: all the small things that are really not small in the end because they have the biggest impact.”
The cast’s quick bond is especially heartwarming considering many of them lived on different continents and had only met on Zoom prior to filming. “I met Gia first,” she recalls, adding that they had their first encounter at their hotel. For Cathcart and Kim, the connection was instant. “We just were, like, saying congratulations to each other and being like, ‘I’m so excited for you.’ She was like, ‘I’m so excited for you!’ It was just a very good feeling of: we’re about to start an adventure together.” When it came to meeting her other castmates, Cathcart was mesmerized by how similar they were to their characters. “Min-young has a lot of traits that are similar to Dae, and Sang has so many traits that are similar to Min Ho,” she says. “They were both such lovely people, but it was really funny to see that.”
As filming continues, Cathcart says she’s become increasingly grateful for this loveliness from her castmates, noting that their differences have made their friendship stronger. “In our group, we also have a lot of diversity in different ways,” she says. “People who are part of different communities are all, now, part of one big group. [It’s a mix of] different ages and different life experiences. To value diversity as a friend group is really meaningful, and it translates a lot into how you interact and what you guys do and how understanding and empathetic everyone can be for each other.”
This empathy often manifests itself in heartfelt talks between scenes. “It was great to be able to talk about your day and have people get it, have people support you, and know the feelings that you’re experiencing or at least be empathetic to them and listen,” she says. “If you had a hard day or if you were stressed with something, everyone understands that, which is really important to have during a journey like that.” She adds, “I think having people who understand you and who hear you is very important.”
Further demonstrating their love for each other, the cast even surprised Cathcart with the “best birthday” of her life when she turned 19 last June. “It was the greatest; they went all out and had a whole surprise,” she says. After a fun-filled dinner and a night on the town, Cathcart’s friends also treated her to an “unforgettable” gift. “They painted me a skateboard,” she says, adding that she’s an avid skater. “They got a blank skateboard, and they all painted it and worked on it and designed it. I came home on the airplane holding it in bubble wrap.”
As much as Cathcart loves her castmates IRL, she also holds space in her heart for all of the “XO, Kitty” characters, especially when it comes to their complicated love lives. “If Kitty continues to follow her heart and does what feels best for her, I support whoever she decides, even if that’s herself!” she says of the romantic tension between Kitty, Min Ho, Yuri, and Dae at the end of season one. “I think prioritizing a relationship with herself is also really important right now, so I’m proud of Kitty for being alone at the end of the season and for giving herself the space to figure it all out.”
“XO, Kitty” season one is currently streaming on Netflix, and it has been renewed for a second season.