The MTV series Eye Candy, based on the best-selling novel of the same name by R.L. Stine, is centered around tech genius Lindy (Victoria Justice), a 21-year-old hacker with a gift for uncovering clues and connections in the digital world that others can’t. After being persuaded by her roommate to try online dating, Lindy realizes that one of her suitors is a deadly cyber stalker and serial killer, and while she’s trying to uncover who it is, she also helps the local cyber crimes unit on cases and searches for who is responsible of the abduction of her younger sister.
During this exclusive interview with Collider, actress Victoria Justice talked about what attracted her to Eye Candy, why she wanted to work with the team behind it, the dangers of putting information about yourself out on social media, what she enjoys about embodying Lindy, playing someone so different from herself, the two ongoing and intersecting storylines of the show, not having any idea who the killer would turn out to be, getting some resolution by the end of the season, and how great it was to shoot in New York.
Collider: How did this come about for you?
VICTORIA JUSTICE: After I finished doing Victorious, I took a break for a little bit. I decided that I wanted the next project that I did to be something that was totally different than anything I had ever done before. And I wanted to do something that was more mature. I was sent scripts from other networks, for comedies and stuff, but I wanted to do a one-hour drama. When I was sent the Eye Candy script, and I was reading it, I couldn’t put it down, with the fact that there were so many twists and turns. I just loved that it was dark and the fact that my character is a computer hacker and the mystery of the killer. I felt like it was the perfect amount of being mature enough, ‘cause I’m 21 years old, and it has this sexy element to it. I felt like MTV was the perfect network to be a part of.
Was there a lot of conscious thought about what the next thing would be for you, or was it just about your instinct when you read that script?
JUSTICE: I knew that I wanted to do a drama, but I hadn’t thought about doing a show about a computer hacker and a serial killer. I hadn’t really thought that through, at all. But when I read the script, I realized that this was the one. It was perfect. Another reason I was so excited to be a part of this project is the people behind it, and not only MTV, but Blumhouse Productions, who are behind Paranormal Activity and Insidious. I felt like I was in really good hands. Also, Christian Taylor, our showrunner, had worked on Teen Wolf, and he is the perfect person to run this ship. He has such a great vision for this show, and he’s really smart and really funny. He just gets it. He gets what the MTV audience wants to see, and hopefully our show delivers that. The show definitely has some mature themes, but the writing is really great.
What do you enjoy or find compelling about exploring the darker side of life, particularly when it comes to social media and what we put online about ourselves?
JUSTICE: The reason why my characters get thrown into all of this is because her best friend, Sofia, makes her a profile on this online dating app called Flirtual, which is our equivalent to Tinder, so I begrudgingly meet a few of these guys. After I leave the club, I start getting weird text messages and pictures, and I realize that someone is watching me and following me. And I suspect that possibly one of the guys is the serial killer, but it really could be anyone, so it becomes this crazy game of cat-and-mouse. I wanted to explore this side of things because I feel like it’s really relevant to what’s going on in our world, today. Online dating is huge right now. And this isn’t necessarily a show about online dating, but the fact that we live in such a technologically centered world, makes it really relevant to the audience. My character is a computer hacker, but she’s the good kind of computer hacker. She uses her skills because she’s on a mission to find her sister, and will do anything that it takes. And now, she’s also on a mission to find this killer.
Had you always been aware of how dangerous it could be to put personal information about yourself online?
JUSTICE: You have to be really careful with what you put out on social media and who you’re talking to online. I hope this, in a way, serves as a warning to people and it makes them more careful. You can’t just trust someone that you meet online. People aren’t always who they say they are. That’s definitely something that you should take away from all of this. Also, just being in the public eye, from a young age, I’ve had to be very private and secure, with that sort of thing. It was instilled in me.
What do you enjoy about embodying Lindy?
JUSTICE: The thing that I enjoy most about playing Lindy is that she’s a really complex character. I feel like I really empathize with her. Her sister has been abducted and she’s had to deal with a lot of loss as a young age, but at the same time, she’s still a fighter. That’s the thing I love most about her. She is such a strong, independent woman. She wants to get things done, and if you tell her no, she’ll find a way to do it on her own. I love that about her. She has this bravery that I really admire, a lot. Not only that, she’s not afraid to get down and dirty. While filming the show, I did a lot of my own stunts. That was really fun, as well. I enjoyed getting to do more action. As far as her emotional arc, I get to play a lot more than you do on a sitcom. They’re two totally different animals, to be honest with you. I love doing comedy. I live for comedy. I’ve been doing it for such a long time. Comedy is hard, in itself. This is just a different kind of challenge. I love the fact that there are so many different layers to my character. She’s constantly growing and changing, and trying to figure out this life in New York City.
Is this character the closest to you, out of the roles that you’ve played, or does she still feel pretty different from who you are?
JUSTICE: She definitely feels pretty different from who I am. By no means, am I as skilled as she is, tech wise. I’m skilled in the Twitter and Instagram sense of the social media verse. But, we’re pretty different. She has a lot of walls up and doesn’t let people in as easily because she’s dealt with so much hurt in her life.
The show has set up two ongoing storylines, with the abduction of Lindy’s sister and the stalker/serial killer. How much will each of those storylines continue to play a role?
JUSTICE: Lindy is always on a mission to find her sister. That’s the underlying thing of the whole show. As far as what will happen with the serial killer, something new happens in every episode. And then, there’s also this procedural element where my character is working with the cyber crimes unit. So, there are a few episodes that aren’t totally concerned about who the killer is. It’s also incorporating trying to figure out these other mysteries and crimes, but there’s always this underlying layer of who the killer could be. He’ll do something, or always be around the corner, or get in touch with my character, in one way or the other. It’s very twisted and complicated. It’s a very complicated relationship.
Did you have any idea who the killer would turn out to be?
JUSTICE: Every time I would read a new script, I was so excited and like, “What?!” I literally had no idea what was going to happen next. The writers definitely kept me on my toes. I was still trying to figure out who the killer was. I had no idea! I think it’s going to be exciting for the audience to try to figure out who it could be because it could be anyone.
Will we know who the killer is, by the end of the season?
JUSTICE: There will be a resolution, yeah.
How much can Lindy get help from her friends, with what she’s going through?
JUSTICE: Her friends definitely play a big role in her life. Kiersey Clemons plays Sophia, who is my best friend and roommate on the show. Lindy is not the kind of girl who has a huge circle of friends. She doesn’t trust many people. So, they have a really great relationship where they’re always watching each other’s back. Everyone in this show is somehow affected by this situation and what’s going on. When you’re roommates with someone who has a serial killer that’s stalking them, you’re obviously going to be affected. And then, there’s also George, played by Harvey Guillen, who’s my sidekick. He’s always there for me and helping me try to find new clues and figure out what’s going on. And then, there’s officer Tommy Calligan, played by Casey Deidrick, and he works in the cyber crimes unit. You’ll just have to wait to see what that relationship turns into. And there’s Connor, played by John Garet, who is Sophia’s gay best friend. He’s also affected by the whole situation. Everyone is always on their toes and suspicious of who this killer could be.
Because Lindy doesn’t know who she can trust, doesn’t that make it difficult for her to date?
JUSTICE: Yes, but she doesn’t let many people in. It takes awhile to gain her trust. She definitely is suspicious of the guys she meets, but she’s a very smart girl.
What was it like to shoot this in New York?
JUSTICE: It was awesome! It was an amazing environment for the show. It’s a perfect backdrop for Eye Candy. New York is like a character, in itself, in the show. We utilized so many different New York locations, and I’m running through the New York streets. It’s really beautiful. It was really, really cool to be able to film there. For the cyber crimes unit, our soundstage was right on the water in Brooklyn, and you could see the Williamsburg bridge in the background and the Empire State Building. It’s really incredible. New York, in itself, has this frenzied, chaotic feeling to it. It’s such a big city and it’s always moving and there are so many people. It adds a good element to the show.
Eye Candy airs on Monday nights on MTV.