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The Original Sinners Reviving 'Pretty Little Liars' For A New Generation

Meet the rising stars behind the newest clique in Millwood

In the newest chapter of Pretty Little Liars, five young women are bound together by dark secrets involving their past misdeeds. Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin, streaming now on HBO Max, tells the story of five teen girls in the small town of Millwood, Pennsylvania, who originally banded together to seek revenge on their high school’s queen bee, Karen Beasley (Mallory Bechtel).

When Karen is pushed to her death at Millwood High School’s spirit week dance, each group member receives an anonymous text message from an entity known only by the letter A. It reads, “To thine own self be true. One bully down. Five more to go. Keep quiet about me or you’re next.” As the town reels over Karen’s passing, A continues to follow the girls and send threatening notes, at one point leading them to believe the elusive entity is seeking revenge on behalf of Angela Waters, a former classmate of their mothers who died at a school dance 22 years prior.

Over the course of the season, the bubbly Imogen (Bailee Madison), the resourceful Tabby (Chandler Kinney), the sporty Noa (Maia Reficco), the tech-savvy Mouse (Malia Pyles), and the disciplined Faran (Zaria) work together to uncover their masked tormentor and discover the truth about what happened to Angela. The six leading ladies tell MTV News about interesting secrets of their own, as well as the process of manifesting their breakthrough roles.

Actress Bailee Madison starring as Imogen Adams in Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin.

Karolina Wojtasik

Bailee Madison

MTV News: Tell us about your character, Imogen.

Madison: She is 16 years old, pregnant, and in the middle of dealing with a lot of trauma and tragedy. As A enters the picture, you’ll see Imogen stop at nothing to uncover the truth and fight for protection for her friends and the people in her life — and also work to take her power back.

MTV News: What was the audition process like?

Madison: I fell in love with the fact that there were no rules and we could play with [the script] and have fun. I rewatched a bunch of old PLL episodes, and it was so exciting to know I was walking into something that I've admired for so long, with people I have admired for so long, and get to tackle a role that has genuinely been a dream of mine.

MTV News: How did you begin acting?

Madison: My mom was a commercial queen in Florida. My sister was an actress, and she and I are 13 years apart. One time, when I was 3 years old, I was in a waiting room with my mom waiting for her to come out of an audition. They asked my mom and my sister, “Does she act?” and they were like, “Oh, no.”  Then they asked, “Does she want to give it a try?” They looked at me, and I was like, ‘I’ll try.’ I went in that room and ended up booking that commercial, and then my sister forced my mom to put me on tape [to audition for the role of May Belle in] Bridge to Terabithia, because that was the childhood book that all my siblings grew up on. Somehow, by the grace of God, I was able to do that.

MTV News: After Imogen’s mom dies in the first episode, we see Imogen return to her old house several times throughout the series, collecting items from her past. What is one childhood keepsake you still have?

Madison: I have my rainbow bear. I also have my Lab Top. It was this cute little puppy with fuzzy ears. I lost Lab Top when I was in New Zealand, and they put up fliers in the hotel, and we found him.

Actress Chandler Kinney (left) starring as Tabby Hayworth alongside Bailee Madison as Imogen Adams (left) in Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin.

Barbara Nitke

Chandler Kinney

MTV News: Tell us about your character, Tabby.

Kinney: Tabby is an avid filmmaker and a huge cinephile. She has a film reference for literally everything, which is really fun. She's funny, sweet, and often provides a bit of levity in darker moments.

MTV News: What was the audition process like?

Kinney: I would like to say that it was almost like any other audition process, but really, this one was unique in the sense that I immediately bonded with the entire creative team. I remember saying to them, “I don't know who's gonna get this role, but honestly this has been my favorite audition process because you guys have been so sweet and collaborative,” and they really allowed me the space to interpret the character the way I saw her.

MTV News: How did you begin acting?

Kinney: I actually started as a dancer. I started dancing at the age of 3, doing competitive dancing. I was dancing at the Debbie Allen Dance Academy when I was about 9, and there was a shortlist that was sent to Gap when they were casting for a commercial. I was the last name that got put on the list, as I was the newest dancer there. Through that experience, I ended up signing with a commercial agent, which meant I had to start taking acting classes.Then I caught the acting bug and started auditioning for TV and film. It kind of snowballed.

MTV News: Tabby is the film buff of the group. What is your favorite movie of all time?

Kinney: I can't answer that, but I will say I am a huge lover of animated film. Biggest Pixar fan over here. I also really love Studio Ghibli movies, and Hayao Miyazaki is also one of my favorite filmmakers. If I had to pick a favorite from that world, I would say Kiki's Delivery Service.

Actress Maia Reficco starring as Noa Olivar in Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin.

Karolina Wojtasik

Maia Reficco

MTV News: Tell us about your character, Noa.

Reficco: We meet Noa fresh out of juvie. She's at a very important time when she has to figure out who she is after such a life-defining experience. I think she's finding herself within the mess that being a teenager is, and in that, she finds strength, loyalty, generosity, and humor. She's battling a lot of external circumstances that make it hard for her to stick to one thing.

MTV News: What was the audition process like?

Reficco: I was the first Liar to be cast. I actually messed up a little part, and then I was like, “No, Maia, go again.” The producers loved that energy. I brought a lot of Maia into Noa, and that's how it came to be.

MTV News: How did you begin acting?

Reficco: I've been acting, singing, and making music ever since I was 4. I never really had a choice in my mind. It took some convincing for my mom to let me, because she works in the industry and knows how hard it is.

MTV News: Noa is the sporty member of the group. What is your favorite sport?

Reficco: I watch so much soccer. It's what connects me to home when I'm not there. Soccer is my favorite one to watch, but to play, field hockey or gymnastics.

Actress Malia Pyles starring as Mouse Honrada in Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin.

Karolina Wojtasik

Malia Pyles

MTV News: Tell us about your character, Mouse.

Pyles: I love [Mouse] dearly. It was so fun getting to sink my teeth into someone so complex and nuanced. She’s very quiet. She's trapped in her solitude and has a real fear of the outside world because of circumstances that were outside of her control when she was a child. When we meet her, she's on her journey of coming into her adulthood. She meets the other girls, and from there, it's about Mouse finding her power, her voice, and friendship.

MTV News: What was the audition process like?

Pyles: I had heard about the fact that there was a new show in the PLL universe through a friend, who sent me the breakdown for the show and was like, “This is so perfect for you.” I was like, “I have to be a part of this.” It actually didn't pan out in my favor for a really long time. It wasn't until the week before shooting — I was the last Liar cast. It really happened out of nowhere. It took a while for me to own the fact that I was allowed to take up space in this new world, because it's been such a dream of mine to be a part of this [franchise.]

MTV News: How did you begin acting?

Pyles: I knew I wanted to be an actress when I was 8. I was a painfully shy kid to the point where people thought I didn't speak. One day, my aunt sent my mom this page from the newspaper that said there was going to be a local Disney audition. It ended up being a scam, but my mom wanted me to go and see if I enjoyed it,  just to get me outside of my bubble. And something just clicked.

MTV News: Mouse is the tech nerd of the group who can’t live without her several gadgets. What is one device you can’t live without?

Pyles: Definitely my phone. So much of our lives exist on there, whether it be social media, interacting with the fans, and being present with everybody, including our family. Everything is so compact nowadays, so when I lose it, which I do often, it feels like my world is crumbling. I definitely try to be mindful and put it down, but so much of my life is in there.

Actress Zaria as Faran Bryant in Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin.

Karolina Wojtasik

Zaria

MTV News: Tell us about your character, Faran?

Zaria: Faran is ambitious. She's motivated by dance. She believes that the only way to live is to live full-throttle and say what's on your mind. She has scoliosis, so she deals with chronic pain. And she is learning about herself as a high schooler in Millwood.

MTV News: What was the audition process like?

Zaria: I auditioned for Tabby and Faran at the same time, and Faran had such a fit. I felt like I wore a size eight, and she wore a size eight. It was really exciting to be able to go from self-taping to being in the room with the amazing showrunners, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Lindsay Calhoon Bring. It was the best audition experience I've ever had. They were so collaborative, and they were so open to my questions and how I saw Faran.

MTV News: How did you begin acting?

Zaria: I started by doing musicals at my school and was obsessed with performing. I was obsessed with singing, and Beyoncé was like my queen mother. I bombed a talent show one time and was like, “I never want to feel that way again, so let me throw myself into these characters.” I’ve done a lot of auditioning ever since.

MTV News: How did you train for Faran’s ballet scenes?

Zaria: We trained with choreographer Kelly Devine, who is divine. We did eight-hour practices. I did some ballet as a kid and throughout my life, but it was always on and off. The thing about Faran is she knows that, in order to be a ballerina, you have to be on all the time.

MTV News: In a later episode, we see Faran present an interesting theory to her friends. What is one theory in life that you believe completely?

Zaria: We would all have a better life if we took a little bit more time to understand one another, and if we were open to listening to one another, empathizing, sympathizing, and connecting.

Actress Mallory Bechtel as Karen Beasly in Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin.

Barbara Nitke

Mallory Bechtel

MTV News: Tell us about your characters, Karen and Kelly.

Bechtel: Karen is the leader of the twins. She's definitely the reigning queen of Millwood High. She's a ballerina, captain of the cheer squad, and she’s going out for spirit queen. She’s ambitious, very much a winner. Her whole sense of worth comes from being better than everyone else. Her claws come out when there’s any threat to that. Kelly, who has grown up in Karen's shadow, has accepted that she is never going to be as talented or as popular as her [sister]. She will do anything Karen tells her to, but as the show progresses, we get to see Kelly come into her own.

MTV News: What was the audition process like?

Bechtel: I originally auditioned for Imogen, and it was not that great of a tape. I was so distraught because I really wanted to be a part of the show. I have no idea if that tape even made it anywhere. But a month later, I booked the audition for Karen and Kelly, and I was like, “This is it. This is my second chance from the universe.” I sent in a tape for that, and then two weeks later, I found out I had a callback. It was a Zoom with Roberto, Lindsey, and our director Lisa Soper. I found out five days later that I got the parts, and I freaked out.

MTV News: How did you begin acting?

Bechtel: I always loved singing, and my parents always thought I was really good. I look back at videos and I'm like, “How did anybody see any talent in me?” I started musical theater when I was 5, and ever since, I can't remember ever wanting to do anything else. I grew up wanting to be on Broadway. It wasn't until I was 12 that I got into film and TV.

MTV News: What was the hardest part about playing twins?

Bechtel: It’s not like Lindsay Lohan [in The Parent Trap], where one’s hair was shorter and one had a British accent. Karen and Kelly do pretend to be each other sometimes, so the hardest part was making them distinct but not too distinct. That amounted to a lot of conversations with Lisa and with wardrobe to find what those little things could be so that the characters felt like real people, not me playing the same person. I loved figuring them out.