In the book trilogy, that’s the beginning, middle, and end of Cam’s story. But he gets a revival arc in the show, placing Cam back into the mix of the Cousins crew, this time as a person all his own. This certainly came as a pleasant surprise to lovers of the books, but perhaps the person most astonished by the change of story was David Iacono himself. This wasn’t always in the works, and Iacono didn’t go into season one filming knowing he would have an arc beyond that season finale. He considers it a “grounding experience” to be fully engrossed in a project that he thought had an earlier expiration date, ultimately making for a more passionate intro to Cam’s character.
“To look at the first season, I just felt very present while we were doing it,” Iacono tells EUPHORIA. “A lot of times, when you’re filming the first season of a show, you’re constantly wondering what will happen in the second season. ‘Will I be back for the second?’ But because I thought that I wouldn’t, I was just living presently. That’s why I’m so proud of my performance in the first season.”
There is no life-altering change for Cam’s character — he isn’t experiencing grief in the way the rest of the core group is throughout the season — but he is presented independently for the first time. The audience gets to know who he is as a person, not as Belly’s summer fling; Iacono brings a warmth and roundedness to Cam that we don’t see in the first season or the first novel.
That comes in part because Iacono was able to grow with Cam’s character off-screen, as well. He describes Cam as “confident in his awkward behavior,” and it feels true to what the viewer witnesses throughout season one. Cam has a degree of charm and charisma in his relationship with Belly that seems grounded in his quirks. He doesn’t quite know who he is, but he’s willing to fake it until he makes it for the sake of seeking a connection. It’s easy to forget that the characters on-screen are frozen in their teens, memorialized in youth, while their real-life counterparts experience the reality of moving past adolescence.
Iacono learned from Cam’s “old soul,” and he was able to channel that into the development of Cam in his newly crafted storyline in the ongoing season two. “By the end of his little arc in the second season, I will say that I do think he’s feeling a little more comfortable,” Iacono says. “I think every character in the second season is going through a pretty big transformation period, as they were in the first season, but in the second season, they’re getting older, you know? They’re facing life and its uncertainties in a more real way.”
At its core, Cam’s story seems to be simply about camaraderie and autonomy. “Things with Cam and Belly didn’t really work out because they weren’t really supposed to work out,” Iacono explains. “Now when you’re seeing him, if he runs into the group of characters again, you see more of his own life. I wouldn’t say that he’s more comfortable, but he definitely takes up more of his own space.”
Iacono and Cam are a quintessential piece of a greater puzzle that carries a throughline of togetherness. It’s what TSITP stands for; unwavering bonding, burgeoning maturity, and the trials and tribulations of navigating grief and heartache form the pillars of the narrative. Both on camera and behind the scenes, the cast and crew are grounded in a unique display of fondness and respect, and it made Iacono feel like he was right at home.
They are all in this together in a fascinating way — each of them shares the task of giving longtime fans of the franchise something to be proud of, while simultaneously appealing to new viewers who may not be as familiar with the series’ source material. It is the double-edged sword (or, in a glass-half-full perspective, privilege) of having a role in an adaptation, and Iacono is taking it in stride.
“I probably felt a different sense of pressure when the first season was coming out, because I was actually adapting or actualizing this vision of a character that people already had from the first book,” Iacono says. “So in that sense, I felt pressure there. But in the second season, I think I feel less of that sense of pressure and more pressure in the sense that Cam is a very beloved character to a lot of people. It’s just the pressure of any sequel, even if it’s a sequel of a movie, you just want to deliver in the same sense as you did the first time around.”
The more eyes that are on Cam — and there are many — the more attention also falls on Iacono in the real world. Naturally, social media becomes the primary home for fan interaction; Cam Cameron fan edits and feedback about the show have flooded Iacono’s mentions, and his relationship with the internet has shifted to accommodate the newfound attention. Iacono used his social accounts the way most do, posting his day-to-day activities casually and adding the more tentpole moments to feed. While he wouldn’t call it “oversharing,” he wasn’t spending his time consciously concerned about how much of himself he was putting online.
Staying connected introspectively was a priority for Iacono, and he explains he had a “stronger sense of self in real life” because he was more thoughtful of his presence on social media after the first season of TSITP was released. “I think social media is a very wonderful thing, in terms of what it can do, and the outreach that it has on the levels of promoting a show or whatever, it’s a very powerful thing. But I will say, I think it can be sometimes easy to get lost in this personality that you may be creating for yourself on the internet. I think because of that, I kind of had to be more conscious of that personality that I was putting out into the world because all these eyes were on it.”
It’s just one means of demonstrating how Iacono has bloomed alongside Cam, and TSITP is only a sliver of the opportunities that have come Iacono’s way while he navigates early adulthood. As he explores projects outside of the show, he finds he has a soft spot for what TSITP does best and finds himself gravitating toward coming-of-age stories. He found inspiration in household-name filmmakers like John Hughes, who crafted what is widely considered to be one of the most memorable eras in teen-centered filmmaking with the Brat Pack of the 1980s.
“But comedy is also something that I’m always looking for,” Iacono adds. “I think comedic stories are some of the most honest storytelling you will find. And just personally, for me, that’s always the stories that resonate with me the most. And if I’m ever lucky enough to be a part of telling the story, I want it to be as honest as I think it should be.”
While TSITP is the synthesis of those two ideas, Iacono’s latest venture Cinnamon is part romance, part chaos. Iacono takes the reins as the leading man, portraying Eddie, who is forced to navigate a messy series of events after a guffawed robbery alongside Jodi (Hailey Kilgore). It creates a duality within Iacono that fans may not have previously been exposed to, placing him in the center of a story that is “not afraid to get violent.”
Iacono is proving that, early on, he can do it all, but not without compromise or a learning curve. He can play across genres seamlessly, move between an independent film to a major studio television show, and still wrap his day without worry while knowing that the next carries an entirely new set of obstacles and eventual triumphs.
“I think one of the most valuable things about independent filmmaking, that anyone can learn as a part of the process, is having to improvise,” Iacono explains. “All the things that you have to juggle and get through to make the product and to achieve your vision that you’re trying to achieve. You can prepare as much as you need to for the job, and you should, but the game’s not over. After you do that, that doesn’t mean that your job is done.”
Iacono’s key takeaway from working on Cinnamon rings true across any project. Whether it’s a sequel, or crafting a character’s story from scratch or navigating fanfare for the first time, Iacono continues to demonstrate that preparation only grants you an inch. You have to map out your own mile.
The Summer I Turned Pretty is now streaming on Prime Video, and Cinnamon is streaming on Tubi.
DISCLAIMER: This interview was conducted prior to the July 13th strike before SAG-AFTRA members went on strike.