Now available to stream, School Spirits begins with the disappearance of a beloved classmate. The Paramount+ original approaches the mystery from a unique point of view by following the victim into the afterlife. Unbeknownst to her friends, Maddie is currently haunting the high school after meeting her tragic end. However, with no memory of how she died, Maddie takes on the challenge of solving her own murder case.
Peyton List plays the recently deceased Maddie Nears, while Sarah Yarkin’s and Nick Pugliese’s characters, Rhonda and Charley, have had plenty of time to adapt to their ghostly existence. List is known for her work in Cobra Kai and Yarkin recently starred in the 2022 Texas Chainsaw Massacre film. In addition to a number of shorts, Pugliese has been featured in Dramarama and 13 Reasons Why. The rest of the cast includes Milo Manheim, Kristian Flores, Spencer MacPherson, Kiara Pichardo, and Rainbow Wedell.
Stars Peyton List, Sarah Yarkin, and Nick Pugliese chat exclusively with Screen Rant about the mysterious circumstances surrounding Maddie’s death and the relationships that form among the ghosts.
Peyton List, Sarah Yarkin & Nick Pugliese Talk School Spirits
Screen Rant: If you could only use one word to describe your character this season, what is the first one that pops into your mind?
Peyton List: Torment.
Sarah Yarkin: B*tch.
Nick Pugliese: Really?
Sarah Yarkin: On the outside. I’m not gonna give the rest away.
Nick Pugliese: I think “sweet” for Charlie.
Maddie doesn’t know how she died, which comes as a surprise to the other ghosts. Is the season going to explore why her circumstances are so different from everyone else’s?
Nick Pugliese: Yes, because it is a special situation and so there will be questions answered and questions more to be discovered. [Laughs]
Sarah Yarkin: Definitely twists and turns. It’s a special case.
Peyton, after playing Tory in Cobra Kai for so long, what surprised you most about Maddie?
Peyton List: Compared to Tory, Maddie is decently level-headed and pretty grounded, and Tory is becoming more level-headed, but they’re really different. I feel like Maddie has a little bit more control of her anger and her wanting to fight.
Nick, how much are we going to learn about Charley’s life before he died? He’s been trapped as a ghost in this school since the 90s, and we know he didn’t feel like he was allowed to be himself during that time period.
Nick Pugliese: Yes, that will be explored, and you’ll get to see a little bit of his life. You kind of get to see the difference between how he walks and carries himself from when he was a scared little boy, and now he’s a little ghost. You’ll get to see a little bit.
Sarah, I love your character. Rhonda is very closed off, but she has a great dry sense of humor. Were you given a full backstory beforehand, or were you learning more about her as you were reading the script?
Sarah Yarkin: There was definitely the description of her and that she has a dark path as we were getting the scripts, but I think in my audition, there were the sides explaining the scene where she tells us how she was murdered. So I knew that going into it.
Then as the series went on, Megan and Nate, the creators of the show, would tell me bits and pieces of what was happening so that I would know, because it was important for my character to know why I was doing certain things. It definitely helped me make choices as I was going on with the character. At the beginning, I just sort of was like, “Oh, she’s so rough around the edges.” And then to see her open up I was like, “Oh, wow, I get to show different sides.” That was cool.
What’s the dynamic going to look like between all the ghosts? None of them are there by choice, but they’re stuck together for eternity. Could the found-family trope be at play?
Sarah Yarkin: For sure.
Nick Pugliese: Oh, yeah. Old married couple, found family, all of it.
Peyton List: People forced in an environment where they have no way out.
Nick Pugliese: There’s the good, the bad, and the ugly all happening, but at the bottom is love.
About School Spirits
SCHOOL SPIRITS is centered around Maddie, a teen girl stuck in the afterlife investigating her own mysterious disappearance. Maddie goes on a crime-solving journey as she adjusts to high school purgatory, but the closer she gets to discovering the truth, the more secrets and lies she uncovers.
Check out our other interviews with the cast of School Spirits:
NEXT: The 25 Best TV Shows On Paramount Plus
The first three episodes of School Spirits are available to stream on Paramount+.