ET exclusively premieres a sneak peek clip from the very first episode, where Julie (Madison Reyes) tries to get her unassuming father, Ray (Carlos Ponce), to leave her home studio -- all while trying to communicate with her new ghost friends simultaneously. As you can imagine, it gets to be too much for Julie to handle as she rushes her dad out of the garage after he catches some interesting '90s music coming from the room in the first look. (Watch the clip above.)
Not familiar with Julie and the Phantoms? Based on a Brazilian series, the half-hour show centers around high schooler Julie, who lost her passion for music following the death of her mother the previous year. When three musicians -- Luke (Charlie Gillespie), Reggie (Jeremy Shada) and Alex (Owen Patrick Joyner) -- from 1995 suddenly appear as ghosts in her mother's old music studio in the present day, Julie slowly begins to find her love of singing and writing again. The boys' unlikely friendship and chemistry with Julie brings them to form their own band, and hence, Julie and the Phantoms is born.
"It's a sweet spot for storytelling in the YA space when someone's got a secret, so we gravitated towards that. The more we dove, we got into the emotion of it and we started thinking about the character of Julie and her journey," co-showrunner Dan Cross tells ET, "because when you're telling a story, you want the protagonist to have the most growth. So we were like, 'We should lean more into the mother's passing.' We decided it was going to be more than a show about a ghost band, once we really got into Julie's character."
"It became more of just a show about ghosts and more about a show about relationships, about friendship with a whole lot of heart," co-showrunner David Hoge tells ET. "And the girl who was going to be going through so much and had such an incredible journey to go on with the help of three great friends, who just happened to be ghosts."
Sure, the concept seems a little outrageous on paper: a teenage girl begins to see three attractive ghosts and creates a sort-of-faux band, who others can only see when they're performing music together. But Hoge said once you get into "the heart of it, you realize there are so many universal emotions that are going to be happening, it's hard not to start to fall in love with it."
"When we got together with Kenny [Ortega], we were spit-balling the idea, and Kenny's eyes just lit up," Cross recalled. "You could just tell he was getting closer and closer to the character, Julie, and any time we sat in a room with him -- he has a contagious personality and a contagious energy -- that any time we left the room after being with Kenny Ortega, we knew we had a show. I guess that's the most important thing we could say about this whole process is he fell in love with it and then we fell in love with it even more."
Reyes, who famously got the role of Julie -- specifically meant to be Latinx -- after a nationwide casting call, reflected on getting the stamp of approval from actress Mariana Lessa, who played the character on the original series.
"When she messaged me, that was so crazy," the newcomer told ET. "It really made me feel like this was true and I'm not dreaming. Even while we were in the process of filming, I just constantly thought back to who Julie already was for so many people and how I want to continue that legacy and do it right and do the character justice because that's what she deserves. But also, just kind of finding myself through Julie, which is also very interesting because she's this girl who everybody can relate with. Knowing that made it a much more fun experience because I'm excited to see everybody else's reaction and how they start to love Julie as well."
Gillespie, who plays the Phantoms' lead singer, Luke, said he got "butterflies" after reading the sides for the audition.
"It's something that struck with your values, that you can relate with and I was definitely there," the actor told ET. "When I got to the end of the first episode, because that's all we received [for the audition], the relationship between the Phantoms and Julie, I can just tell that these two groups were going to be amazing friends. Like family, instantly."