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Cruel Intentions: Taylor John Smith never saw film before his audition for the reboot

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NBC will soon be bringing Cruel Intentions to the small screen with its sequel to the 1999 teen drama, with Taylor John Smith starring in the new pilot. And although the American Crime actor plays Bash Casey, the son of Annette Hargrove (played by Reese Witherspoon in the film and Kate Levering in the pilot) and Sebastian Valmont (played by Ryan Phillippe in the film), he told EW that before his audition, he made the decision not to watch the original film.

NBC’s reboot picks up years after the movie, as Bash learns that he’s actually the product of his mother’s torrid teenage affair with billionaire Sebastian Valmont. When Bash discovers his late father’s journal, he uncovers a previously unknown world of sex, money, and power — and that discovery is exactly why Smith didn’t want the movie to influence his audition.

“Bash had no idea about that life until he finds that journal,” Smith told EW. “And so when he finds the journal, that’s like him watching the movie. So before I auditioned, I didn’t watch the movie because I didn’t want that to affect how I interpreted it.”

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But after Smith nabbed the lead role, he knew it was time to sit down and watch the original film.

“I watched it like six times after,” Smith said. “It was like, ‘Time to do my homework!’”

The pilot will also star returning cast member Sarah Michelle Gellar as Kathryn Merteuil, Sebastian’s devious stepsister. Roger Kumble, the original film’s director, will also direct and co-write the new Cruel Intentions pilot with Jordan Ross and Lindsey Rosin.