26 Wild "The Circle" Behind-The-Scenes Facts That Explain How The Show Really Works
"If you had to use the bathroom or go in the shower, they would turn the camera around."
If you're anything like me, then you're likely A) obsessed with The Circle and B) want to know exactly what goes on behind the scenes. Well, of Season 2's stars is Lisa Delcampo, who you might also remember by her catfish alias — her IRL boss, Lance Bass. So, I caught up with Lisa — with one of Lance's dogs on her lap — over Zoom to ask all about how the show was made:
1. The audition process involved making a tape, interviews, questionnaires, and psychological testing.
“It's probably different for everyone. I met a friend of a friend who came to my birthday party, and we were talking about The Circle and he was like, ‘I cast that show!’ And I was like, what?! That's how I got started,” Lisa began. “[The questions were like] tell us about yourself? Where did you grow up? What do you do for a living? Kind of like a job interview.”
2. The show is filmed near Manchester, UK, despite exterior city shots that show American cities.
“I've had so many friends text me and say, ‘Oh my God, that's like my hometown skyline.’ I'm like, well, how can everybody live in different places?”
3. Filming was in October 2020, which included a mandatory two-week quarantine.
“We were tested I think every three days [in quarantine]. Even though I was alone for two weeks, I was still tested every three days — they were really, really careful and good about it.”
4. Conversations can vary in length, and messages can take minutes to send and receive while they are being transcribed behind-the-scenes.
“I have had conversations that take 10 minutes, I’ve had conversations that took 20–30 minutes. It just depends on how much time that each of you have — like, is there a competition coming up? Or is there something else? They have to type them out, and you want to get everything perfect — you get one chance to send the message.”
5. Contestants can’t tell people outside their family and the person whose photos they’re using that they’re filming.
“My family knew, obviously, because I couldn't just get up and leave and not tell anyone. Lance obviously knew because I was playing them, and because of work. Nobody else. I just said I was going to be gone for work.”
6. There are no limits on how many conversations contestants can have during the day.
“No limits at all. There were times when I had three or four conversations, sometimes I had two.”
7. And there are conversations that we don’t see on the show.
“When I first went into the Circle, I had a really good conversation with River and they didn't show that. They probably just sift through the really juicy ones. For me, at least, there were conversations that weren't shown.”
8. There is an intercom system in the apartment where producers can speak to contestants.
“You have a daytime producer and a nighttime producer. I didn’t know what they looked like for the longest time; you just hear them. If you want to go up and get fresh air, or if you need something, or whatever. Sometimes it was just nice to chat with them, because you're so bored.”
9. And producers would sometimes remind contestants to vocalize their thought process.
“They do when it's late at night, and you're tired — that's when I would forget. But other than that, it's a weird feeling — but you become accustomed to it, and it gets easier.”
10. Before shooting, contestants are asked for a list of food that they want. Food can also be brought to them if it runs out.
“Before I went to the UK, I got an email and they’re like, write down all the groceries that you want. I was like, this is so fun! I feel like I have a tour rider, like a musician, and I was super boring — berries, yogurt, cereal, croissants. I just thought that they wanted to know a list of my favorite things — but when I got to my hotel, they brought in everything on the list in a fridge like this [gestures three feet] big. Like, oh my god, what am I going to do with all this food?
When you are actually in the Circle, they still went off your list. I'm a big Diet Coke person, and I’d run out — so they would ask if I’d want more, and it would be there within an hour.”
11. Contestants are held to the American drinking age of 21, even though the show is filmed in the UK — where the legal drinking age is 18.
“Jack couldn't have any [alcohol] because he was only 20. Even though he's legal in the UK, it's for American television, so they didn't let him drink. I was like, I'm not drinking on the show — because you never know, I didn't want something crazy to come out of my mouth, or to make a fool of myself.”
12. There are cameras in every room in the apartments. When contestants need to use the toilet or shower, the producers rotate the camera away.
“There's a camera in the bathroom, as you see people getting ready. If you had to use the bathroom or go in the shower, they would turn the camera around. You can leave your mic in your bedroom.”
13. Contestants weren’t allowed on the balconies, but could get fresh air by the hot tub.
“We weren't allowed to go outside on the balconies. You could go up to where the hot tub is — I never went in the hot tub, but I would go get fresh air out there once or twice a day.”
14. When a blocked player visits another contestant’s apartment, producers will knock on everyone’s door to get the surprised reaction shots.
“They pretend to knock doors, or the producer will say, ‘We're knocking at the door now’ — so you look. I mean, how else are you going to get the shots of everybody?”
15. Contestants aren’t allowed personal electronics in the Circle, or in quarantine.
“They brought me a puzzle — which was so hard, I didn't even finish it. I read a lot, and it was sucky because you couldn't bring your Kindle in because it's an electronic. I've got so many books on there! They just would bring me books and I'm like, I need more books!”
16. However, contestants are given a phone they can use in quarantine to talk to their families.
“We did have a phone that production gave us, so you could keep in touch with your family.”
17. And there was a day off shooting where contestants could watch Netflix.
“There's a day where we didn't play — it was a rest day, probably for the production team more than us. We had that day off, and then we could watch Netflix, and we would tell the producer, ‘I want to watch this show.’”
18. Contestants don’t have clocks, and sleep times are controlled by the producers.
“They would wake you up in the morning and say, ‘You have 20 minutes until we start,’ or, ‘You have an hour and a half until we start.’ They're like your own personal alarm clock.”
19. After quarantine but before gameplay, players are brought into "hiding," where they have a chaperone. It's also where blocked contestants go while waiting for the finale.
"You have a chaperone. They put you in a two bed, two bath, and you can go on walks and stuff."
Warning: Some Season 2 The Circle spoilers ahead.
20. All the Season 2 contestants are in a group chat.
"We're all in a big group chat. We all talk, and everybody's fun. I really liked everybody that I played with; they're all good people. They're fun, and funny, and nice."
21. Lisa regrets how she answered the question, "What would you do with the money?"
"Everybody slammed me for this one. I wasn't in the Circle for that long, I think about an hour. It caught me off-guard. I was prepared for it before I went in, but, of course, when I went in, I'm like, 'Oh, my God, what do I say?' I meant it as a joke, but I should have put a laughing emoji or something. He's not gonna pay for his own tour!
I didn't feel right about saying I would give all the money to charity — because let's just say in some crazy world, that's why I won. Lance is giving all the money to charity, we want him to win! And then it's me and I don't give all the money to charity. I know it's okay to lie in this game, and you do what you have to do to win, but I just felt bad about it. So yeah, I did that, and then that backfired."
22. What revealed Jack (aka Emily) as a catfish to Lisa was when he listed Boots (a UK drugstore) as a makeup brand.
"Doing the mannequins on styrofoam was not easy; what gave him away to me was when they asked him to name the five makeup brands. I was like, well if it's a guy, he's going to say a national one — like a L'Oréal or Maybelline. He said Laneige — I'm like, I think they only make skincare, because I have the lip sleeping mask. They didn't show it in the show, but he said Boots — like the drugstore in the UK. That's what gave him away for me, he was going through the the box of makeup from the mannequin challenge and saw a Boots price tag or something."
23. Lisa and Jack were asked if they were okay with splitting the $100k prize money between them before they started playing as John.
"When we got a second chance, they were like, 'Would you guys be willing to split the money?' And we're like, of course! Absolutely. It's still a lot of money."
24. Lisa applied for The Circle because she loves to play games — but doesn't want to be an influencer, like some other contestants do.
"I'm a huge game player. The one thing I miss during COVID is not being able to do game nights. The Circle was the only reality competition show I could ever do because I'm not an outdoorsy, physical competition kind of person. Years ago, I really wanted to go on Big Brother — but I could never do Big Brother. First of all, you're in that house way longer. You're in-person — there is something about being behind a computer that is more liberating.
I did The Circle for the fun of it. You know, hoping to win the money, but for the experience. I am not an influencer person, I've never bought something off what an influencer recommends. It was really funny, because when I got the blue check on Instagram, I got more congratulations over that than being on The Circle."
25. During the day before the finale, contestants ordered takeout.
"Our last day, they got us takeout — we got Nando's. I was so excited. Jack and I hung out and chatted, I don't know what everybody else did, because they were alone."
26. Lisa hasn't told anyone who wins.
"I didn't even tell my parents. I've told no one who won."