JETT, a crime thriller that premieres on June 14, 2019 on Cinemax, stars Carla Gugino as Daisy “Jett” Kowalski, a thief and heist mastermind. Because she’s the ultimate professional, being the mother of a seven-year-old child was not necessarily part her overall life plan, and although her unconventional parenting style is only one of many story arcs in JETT, those who enjoyed Gugino’s performance in Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House will notice another connection. Jett’s daughter Alice is played by Violet McGraw, who played the younger version of Nell Crain opposite Gugino’s Olivia Crain.
Sebastian Guttierez, who executive produces Jett alongside his partner Gugino, explained how the casting of McGraw was a fortunate circumstance of a tight schedule. “That was both by necessity and the advantage of having Carla as the center of this company of actors,” he said, “which is she really only had one week in between The Haunting of Hill House and starting JETT, and we just didn’t have time to audition and do chemistry reads with a bunch of child actors for this very important part, the part of Alice… it was really fortuitous.”
Gugino agreed that McGraw was particularly suited for the role of the daughter of a sometimes distant criminal mother who was just released from prison, a daughter who may have had to grow up a bit too fast. “As soon as JETT got the green light, I was like, ‘There is no other human being on the planet that I want to play Alice more than Violet McGraw,’” Gugino said. “I adore her, and she’s so good in it, and she’s like seven years old going on 42.”
Although Guttierez wasn’t as familiar with McGraw’s work as Gugino was, he quickly realized he had a real scene-stealer on her hands. “Once I started working with Violet, who is ridiculously skilled as an actor (she is so good!), I hadn’t seen Haunting because Haunting hadn’t come out,” he said. “Once I saw the kind of stuff that Mike Flanagan was making her do in The Haunting, I’m like, ‘We barely used Violet!’ In The Haunting they made her see the most horrible things, and she’s being traumatized. She had so much fun on our set, she’s like, ‘Today I get to sing and run around? Woohoo! Today I get to read a book with Carla? This is awesome!’ So that was a definite hat off to Mr. Mike Flanagan for casting Violet in Haunting because she is really perfect as Alice.”
In between all of the thrilling heists, underhanded intrigue, and shocking betrayals in JETT, the scenes between McGraw and Gugino really help establish Jett’s character and personality. “I think kids are survivalists, you know?” Gugino said. “Alice has a pretty strong head on her shoulders, and you know how you always try to be your parent to some extent until you decide you want to rebel and be something totally the opposite of your parents… Jett’s pragmatic nature has definitely been passed on to Alice, and in a weird way, even though Jett doesn’t see herself as a mother and she doesn’t have any experience as a mother, I think that Alice’s no-nonsense, straight-up honesty of kids is something that Jett can relate to.”
There are many relationships, both professional and personal, that will be explored for Gugino’s character when JETT premieres on June 14, 2019 on Cinemax, and for those looking to continue with members of the Crain family from The Haunting of Hill House in a completely different dynamic should check out the nine episode season which also features Giancarlo Esposito, Gil Bellows, Michael Aronov, and Elena Anaya. Our spoiler-free review is right here.
Michael Ahr is a writer, reviewer, and podcaster here at Den of Geek; you can check out his work here or follow him on Twitter (@mikescifi). He co-hosts our Sci Fi Fidelity podcast and coordinates interviews for The Fourth Wall podcast.