Left to right, Spencer Macpherson, Peyton List and Kristian Flores star in “School Spirits.” Photo courtesy of Paramount+
NEW YORK, April 6 (UPI) — Kristian Flores says his School Spirits character Simon is desperate for his best friend Maddie, a ghost, to get closure in her murder mystery — even if it means she might move on to another place and they won’t be able to hang out together anymore.
“That is what Simon wants, which has confused me from Day 1 because actors know that all ‘wants’ are selfish, but here you have this person who just understands that what he is doing is just unconditional love,” Flores told UPI in a recent phone interview.
“He’s trying to find out the truth and he loves Maddie to death, but that is his irony,” he said. “However far he gets in their investigation, she’ll never come back [to life].”
The hour-long, supernatural drama, which airs Thursdays on Paramount+, follows Maddie (Peyton List), the most recently deceased member of a group of teens trapped in the high school where they died at different points over the span of decades.
None of the ghosts are able to interact with the living, except for Maddie, whom Simon sees and hears as he tries to figure out what happened to her.
Why Simon is special in this regard will eventually be addressed.
“That will be the climax of the season finale. I’ve always considered there to be two mysteries: A. Who the heck killed Maddie? B. Why can Simon and Maddie talk to each other,” Flores said.
“Maybe the two are linked. Maybe there are different answers, but you are definitely going to know why they can speak [to each other] in the finale.”
Viewers have expressed different reasons for loving the show. Some like the supernatural or mystery aspects, while others tune in for the romance and high-school drama sides of the story.
The most common reason is they are attracted to the show’s central friendship.
“A lot of people are very moved that a friend would do so much and care so much. I’ve gotten a few messages from people watching the show saying, ‘We all need a Simon.’ And I think that’s true,” Flores said.
“You need people to shake the ground and ask questions like Simon does. He is very loyal.”
But some other people think Simon is too good to be true and might actually have killed Maddie.
“That is a very clear demonstration of where we are at, in 2023. A lot of trust issues. The people closest to us, we don’t really find them to be good. We are resistant against selflessness. We doubt it,” Flores said. “It’s cynical, isn’t it?”
Aiding Simon on his quest to find Maddie’s killer are her cheating boyfriend Xavier (Spencer MacPherson) and her close friend Nicole (Kiara Pichardo).
They don’t know Simon and Maddie have been chatting.
“With Xavier, I’m very excited about their relationship. They are two young guys who already had a fist fight,” Flores said.
“There is some chemical competition of masculinity with them because once you get physical with someone you always have that tension, but you also have a strange opening for brotherhood,” he added.
He said although the two have different personalities, they want the same thing.
Nicole is a different matter.
“She’s a little bit suspicious and I would say it is one of those scenarios where they can’t talk to each other about what they know because both of them have two different secrets,” Flores said.
“It’s not about a lack of communication, it’s more of a lack of trust. They are starting to become a little bit more independent in their investigation.”
Elsewhere, Maddie’s fellow spirits Charley (Nick Pugliese) and Wally (Milo Manheim) are showing the newbie how to make the most out of the afterlife.
So far, Simon hasn’t been able to interact directly with them, but he does sometimes run errands on their behalf at Maddie’s request.
Because Simon can see Maddie, but no one else can, Simon often appears from the perspective of other students to be talking animatedly to himself.
He said those scenes are fun and challenging to film.
“The students in the cafeteria in the storyline think that I’m crazy, but the background actors in real life just think that I am embarrassing myself,” the actor said with a laugh.”
Simon is the only living person who knows for certain that Maddie is dead, which means he must grieve that knowledge and his own personal loss alone.
Flores feels the dialogue he is given makes it easy to connect to Simon and feel his pain.
“As soon as you start saying Simon’s lines, it’s already pretty sad. He doesn’t have a very happy time,” the actor said. “He lost his soul mate.”
The show has not been officially renewed yet, but Flores expects a Season 2 is imminent.
“That’s the beautiful thing. When you find out what has happened to Maddie, there are too many layers in the actual event. You get an answer, but the door is wide open because no one knows how, why,” the actor said.
“You might get a who,” he added. “If the show was a song, the first season is the first stanza but we’ve yet to hear the chorus.”