Original Sin and Playing Twins

Mallory Bechtel will never forget the day she first bought it Pretty little Liars book. It was fourth grade – she had just finished performing a song with her friend, Gabby Gillespie, at a local bookstore when, out of the corner of her eye, she saw a Barbie-esque doll wearing a pink shirt on a book cover. Having already watched Coraline and My teacher ate my homeworka 1997 children’s horror film about a doll that comes to life, Bechtel was immediately intrigued.

“It was way too mature for me at the time, but I was getting into the world of boys and acting, and I loved the scary element,” says Bechtel, now 22. O on Zoom laughing. “I read that a lot [at night]. I would be scared and have to crawl into bed with my little sister.

So when Bechtel received her first audition for the upcoming series Pretty Little Liars: Original Sinthe Houston native, who managed to turn a lifelong love for musical theater into becoming the first Broadway replacement for Zoe Murphy in Dear Evan Hansen in 2018 – knew she could turn her childhood obsession into an art form.

Created by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Lindsay Calhoon Bring, the fourth series of the liars The franchise, which premieres Thursday on HBO Max, maintains the main female friendships of its predecessors. But this time the story is set in the strange blue-collar town of Millwood, where a new group of disparate teenage girls are tormented by “A” – an unknown abuser bent on punishing them for their mothers’ sins, as well like theirs.

As a pre-teen, Bechtel was completely absorbed in the world of the original five Liars: Alison DiLaurentis (Sasha Pieterse), Spencer Hastings (Troian Bellisario), Aria Montgomery (Lucy Hale), Hanna Marin (Ashley Benson), and Emily Fields (Shay Mitchell). ) — and “wanted to be like Aria.” But after rewatching the show in early adulthood, she was struck by how parents were written and took a special liking to Hanna’s mother, Ashley (Laura Leighton). “I don’t know what she would do, but maybe she could be friends with our moms,” Bechtel suggests of her dream cameo on Original sin. “I’d be crazy if she came over to say hello.”

While there are tons of Easter eggs referencing the original, which had a “creepy feeling” in its own right, Original sin is “very different in that it’s rooted in horror,” Bechtel adds. “It’s so referencing 80s and 90s slasher movies, and that’s how I sold it to my parents.”

After originally auditioning to play Imogen, the pregnant high school girl whose personal loss drives much of the dangerous quest to unmask “A,” Bechtel landed the roles of Karen Beasley, the “Queen “reigning villainess” of the school, and her soft but sinister voice. sister, Kelly. Playing identical twins on her first outing as a series regular on television was a welcome challenge for the actress, whose past screen credits include Hereditary, Law and Order: SVUand FBI: Most Wanted. When it came to playing twins, Bechtel wanted to sound like she was playing “two distinct, fully realized people.” She had long conversations with the creative team, including director Lisa Soper, about adding details that would set the sisters apart.

“It really helps that Karen always shows more skin — you just behave a little bit differently because of that. Karen always wore heels and Kelly always wore flats, so she was curvy a little more,” Bechtel explains. Karen frowns a little more; Kelly holds it down. Karen has her mouth open as she listens; Kelly keeps her mouth shut. Even my eye makeup is slightly different.

Although she had the sole responsibility of doing double duty, Bechtel reiterates that she relied on her ‘double twin’, actor Alex O’Shea, who was on hand to shoot all the scenes with Karen and Kelly. and acted as a sounding board for figuring out how to bring the power dynamic between the sisters to life. In other words, the actress never felt like she was acting in front of herself. “Internally, my little reminder to myself has always been, ‘Karen is driven to be the best at everything, and everything she does is to impress her dad,'” Bechtel says. “Kelly is motivated to help Karen and to keep the peace between her family.”

For Bechtel, Karen and Kelly’s sibling dynamic is mostly reminiscent of Spencer and Melissa Hastings (Torrey DeVitto) from the flagship series. “Melissa was the star of the family, and Spencer maybe felt like she had to do horrible things to compare herself to her. I remember she copied Melissa’s essay to hand in for a school assignment and completely plagiarized her,” she explains. “I think Kelly bites the bullet a bit more. At least when we first met her, she agreed to live in Karen’s shadow. , so that would be the big difference, but [there are] certainly a lot of similarities.

When it comes to playing the antagonist in high school dramas, young actors might be tempted to play off the villainy of their characters, to the point that their performances are too campy. In this case, Bechtel thinks the writing lends itself to creating a more grounded take on the conventional “mean girl,” as viewers get better insight into “why Karen feels like she has to pick on it.” to others. “I’m so grateful that we can come home and meet her dad, and see what a typical family dinner is like, where everything she says is going to be challenged,” she adds. “She doesn’t have that unconditional love from her parents – the only way she can even [get] a sign of approval is if she wins.

Karen’s sense of self-worth “comes from feeling like she’s the best at everything, and the Liars pose a very real threat to that,” Bechtel warns. “There’s something about them that makes him feel like, ‘They’re dominating in an area where I’m supposed to be dominating, and I’m going to fight with everything I’ve got, because I can’t stand the thought of come home and my dad has to hear that I’m not the boss [ballerina or] the queen of spirits.’”

Kelly’s dynamic with the Liars, on the other hand, is ever-changing. “I love that Kelly feels obligated to do whatever Karen says, but she also has a lot of love for her,” Bechtel says with a smile. “They’re best friends. And when they really hurt Karen, her smart side comes out, and her evil side comes out, and she takes full control of the situation. She’s on a journey of self-discovery, and liars are very involved.

And as an initial tragedy strikes the Beasley family and raises the stakes to uncover ‘A’s’ true identity before they claim their next victim, Bechtel has an ominous warning for fans who think they will have figured it out. story: “All is not is as it seems. Don’t trust anything on this show, because really anything could happen.”


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