Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin, a 10-episode HBO Max drama series starring Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Lindsay Calhoon, is a story about a group of teen girls who are forced to confess for their mothers' sins in a manner that appears to be straight out of a horror movie. They work together to investigate precisely what happened 20 years ago.
Co-creators/writers Aguirre-Sacasa and Calhoon Bring talked about how the series came to life, what it was like to work with this cast, how far ahead theyve planned on telling the story, and how grateful he is to not have to deal with network regulations and practices during his final interview with Collider.
Roberto, youve created a TV series with Riverdale's source material. Now, you've created this new chapter of Pretty Little Liars with Original Sin. What inspired you to create this series and what is the joy for you to recreate these things that exist already in very different ways?
ROBERTO AGUIRRE-SACASA: It's funny, that is true, but in very different situations. My bosses at Warner Bros. knew what Pretty Little Liars was, and I knew it from that. But when I was doing Riverdale, I listened to every YA pilot, like Dawsons Creek, Everwood, and I was like, Yeah, I understand why they're asking me to do it. At its core, however, Pretty Little Liars was about these five girls'
Lindsay Calhoon Bring came knocking on my door to see if there was anybody who would be willing to tackle a different PLL topic. We worked on Sabrina, which had so many horror elements, but I had never really done it. I was so interested in knowing who these girls were and would be, and what they were struggling with.
Lindsay, what it's like to take on a show that was so successful and the cast was so iconic, and feel like you saw something in it that made you want to add to it? Is it terrifying to realize that, or is it both?
LINDSAY CALHOON BRING: I think the experience was equally as nerve-wracking as exciting. Part of that is that I felt very comfortable collaborating with Roberto because I knew that we would achieve something extraordinary. We were really aiming to help the original in a way that it exists in Rosewood, a couple of towns over, and that weve expanded on the universe. Were hoping that everybody will fall in love with the cast.
Roberto, you've done that with Riverdale and that cast. What was it like to find this cast, and what makes this cast special? What has been the greatest surprise to you, from spending the season with them, seeing how they work, and seeing everything develop?
AGUIRRE-SACASA: During casting, we work with the wonderful casting directors, David Rapaport and Lyndsey Baldasare, who have brought together such amazing actors over the years. It was incredible to watch Maya Reficco as Noa during her tenth season. She had this incredible passion for her and was so passionate. Until she died, I would text her and be like, Thats me! During her tenth episode, I was surprised to see her as an amazing actor
CALHOON BRING: Friend love is real love. I think our love story of the show really is these girls becoming friends, and thats happening on screen and behind the scenes, in a really, really beautiful way. Theyre just so connected and so supportive of each other. Its amazing to watch and hear as the season progresses.
This episode leans heavily toward horror and suspense, especially when a nameless and faceless figure is running around, and masks on murdered people in horror are well-known. How did you come up with the look for this scary figure, having his body covered, wearing gloves, and not seeing his face? How did you intend to portray it and describe it?
AGUIRRE-SACASA: I will not be happy unless A gets a custom action figure. Lisa Soper is a brilliant designer and a fantastic production designer. From the start, Lisa sent us ten or twelve sketches of what we saw at the theatre, which was like something out of Silence of the Lambs. It was just terrifying and terrifying.
I like that you even try to put him in a Halloween mask for the holidays and shoot some of that episode through the eye holes of the mask.
AGUIRRE-SACASA: I just loved that episode. I love that set piece. It's so good.
CALHOON BRING: I love the idea that a masked villain might hide in plain sight on Halloween night, by simply wearing another mask. Thats so cute. I love that.
Roberto, youve taken a long, wild road from where Riverdale started through to where the show will end up. Did you know that the end point you would eventually reach would be this end point? Is where you've gotten to where you always imagined yourself going, or are you surprised?
AGUIRRE-SACASA: I'll be honest with you, no, I don't think anyone knew that Riverdale would get to Season 7, but Im really excited about Season 7. It's completely unexpected, yet completely inevitable, so Im super excited. But wait, when Season 6 was over, someone else came in, and we're all excited about it.
Im always interested in learning because I work with a lot of showrunners, creators, and writers, some of whom say they know how their program will conclude, while others have no idea, or a general idea.
AGUIRRE-SACASA: Theyll say, I know the exact image.
How far ahead have you considered the narrative you'd like to tell in Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin?
CALHOON BRING: It's funny, even with this program, in Season 1, you always get on the train where the story will go. Robertos philosophy, which I love and have learned from, is that the greatest idea wins and the best story wins. If there's a direction we're going in, like some of our mysteries, there's things we've stayed stuck to throughout the season, and then, there's some new story concepts and places for the characters to go after this.
Do you guys have a very clear idea of who A is?
CALHOON BRING: Yes, quite literally.
What are the challenges of having twins as part of your narrative, and what are the benefits of having them as part of it? Were there any specific topics you wanted to explore with that?
AGUIRRE-SACASA: Twins have always been a popular horror genre. In The Shining, Carrie is well-known for having twins. It's one of the great things about Season 1, especially the very unlikely friendship between Kelly and Faran, because she's a professional actors, and it's enjoyable. We're all ready for the challenge.
CALHOON BRING: I want to extend my appreciation for Mallory Bechtel, who plays Karen and Kelly. She displays a very different perspective on herself and how she would respond. She was so thoughtful about that. From the start, seeing her performance and seeing how talented she is, she encouraged others to give her more story.
What has affected HBO Max's content and the material that you may explore? I like the fact that you have teenagers who can speak language that you might not have been able to, who would absolutely use that language to respond to situations.
AGUIRRE-SACASA: Yes, absolutely. I know that the Riverdale cast is incredibly dissatisfied when they have to say, I'm not saying friggin. I'll just say that KJ [Apa] has said, what do you want to do? It's never about whether or not you're into gratuitous violence, gratuitous sexuality, or gratuitous language. Those are my thoughts. But sometimes, you're just like, Do you want to be
HBO Max has released Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin.