Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin victim speaks!

·8 min read

Warning: This post contains spoilers from the first three episodes of Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin.

Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin wasted no time in claiming its first victim. Or its second. Or its third!

As the second episode of the new HBO Max drama came to a close, Karen (Mallory Bechtel) was poised to humiliate Imogen (Bailee Madison) at the school dance by dumping a bucket of blood on her. (It would be her Carrie moment.) But before Karen could pull her mean girl prank, "A" showed up and pushed her from the rafters. Just like that, Kelly (also Bechtel) lost her twin, and the show lost its first mean girl.

EW spoke with Bechtel about playing twins, Karen's death, and what this will mean for Kelly.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Were you familiar with the Pretty Little Liars universe before you joined the series?

MALLORY BECHTEL: Yes, extremely. I bought the first book when I was in fourth grade. I saw that cover with the doll on it, and I was obsessed with Coraline at the time, and it just looked so creepy. I remember thinking that the doll was going to come to life. But I bought the book when I was way too young, and was obsessed with it. And then when the TV show came out, I was in middle school and all of my friends watched it. We would just go crazy trying to figure out who "A" was. We would hold sleepovers for the premieres. So I was obsessed with it when I was a kid.

Pretty Little Liars Original Sin
Pretty Little Liars Original Sin

Barbara Nitke/HBO Max Mallory Bechtel on 'Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin'

So then you understood the twin reference! Did you audition for twins? How did you find out about all that?

So I originally auditioned for just Karen, but they included in the description that she has a twin. But in my mind I was like, "Okay, well the other twin will be the less important twin, clearly." Which, of course, everything's about to change. So I had one callback after my initial self-tape, and for that, I had to sign an NDA for the third scene, because it takes place after Karen's death. And that was when I first realized, "Oh, this character's going to die."

That's how you found that out?!

Yeah. I always assumed it was going to be at the very end of the season because I was like, "She's such a huge character surely that's a season finale event!" But no. So it was interesting initially auditioning for Karen because I really felt like I had that character down and I was very excited to do that character, and I just had this one scene as Kelly. And so for the callback, I sat down with the little information I had and I was like, "All right, let's figure out every tiny little difference between these two people." I made a character profile for each one of them. And I think it paid off.

Speaking of those character profiles, what are the big differences between Karen and Kelly, in your mind?

It was the vaguest character breakdown I've ever received, which honestly was maybe helpful because I was not given a lot. It really was like, "Karen is the queen of mean. She torments our Liars. And Kelly is her slightly nicer sister." Or I don't even think they used the word nicer. I think they said, "less mean," so that's really all I had. And then I had these two scenes. It's a testament to [co-showrunners] Roberto [Aguirre-Sacasa] and Lindsay [Calhoon Bring]'s writing, because somehow I was able to extrapolate that Kelly's purpose in life is that she is the ultimate henchman, at least when we first meet her, and she's going to do everything in her power to help Karen and support her. There's that tiny little scene where they're at home and it's dinner and Karen is bitching about not getting the lead. And the claws from her dad come out and Kelly has the bravery to try and stick up for her. That meant a lot. That's who Kelly is. She's slightly less mean, but she is selfless, at least when it comes to her sister. When I read episode 2, eventually, it was cool to see the lengths that Kelly goes to to protect her sister after she sees that she's hurt. That was, at least the biggest difference in the beginning, is that Karen thinks about herself and Kelly thinks more about her family and the people around her.

Pretty Little Liars Original Sin
Pretty Little Liars Original Sin

Barbara Nitke/HBO Max

Even in episode 3, you see her trying to reel her parents in a bit.

Kelly goes through the craziest journey. But yeah she has to, once Karen is gone, her dad becomes even more awful and goes into this drunken spiral and her mom is just completely catatonic. And so she has to really step up to the plate. She is the caretaker of the house.

I really loved that swing set scene with Kelly and Imogen, that was so sweet.

Oh, it's such a great scene. That was toward the end of shooting for episode 3, and both of us were just so excited to do that scene. I had a completely different vision of what it was going to look like. I thought it was going to be nighttime for some reason. And we show up and it's this beautiful sunset happening behind us. I've just seen little bits of that in ADR, but it's a gorgeous scene and it's so fun to play, too, because obviously Kelly has been just beating herself up, keeping the secret to herself, that it was her idea for Karen to go up in the rafters. She chooses Imogen to confide in her, and it's a moment where you realize these two girls were also friends back in the day.

By the end of it I found myself hoping that maybe Kelly will get pulled into the Liar fold.

There might be a little bit of that down the line.

Look, they all definitely seem to have a common enemy. We can say that much.

Yes. Very true.

Pretty Little Liars Original Sin
Pretty Little Liars Original Sin

Barbara Nitke/HBO Max Bailee Madison and Mallory Bechtel on 'Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin'

Is this "A" as creepy in person as it is on screen?

I cannot emphasize how sweet of a man Travis Patton is. We got to see a little blooper clip the other day, and there's this brilliant shot of him doing a dance. He is also from Broadway, like I am, so I used to make him do the Cats dance all the time. But he's just so fun, so sweet, not a creepy bone in his body, except when we start doing the scene, and all I can hear is him breathing through the mask. And it's just the grossest mask on the planet. He's so sweet in real life, but when we're shooting the scene, he turns it on and he's absolutely terrifying.The first time I saw the mask, I gagged a little. That's the reaction it brought out of me.

Looking ahead, do you have a favorite episode? Something you can't wait for fans to see?

I think episode 9. And I don't want to spoil what happens in it but it's very emotional, very heavy across the board. That's one I'm interested for people to see. I think it's a lot like episode 3, actually. It's one of the heavier, not as much happening, but a lot of emotional turmoil.

Well the last thing I'll ask you is, we started by talking about you picking up your first Pretty Little Liars book. Now that you've filmed a season of this show, was it what you expected? What was it actually like to be part of the PLL universe?

So incredible. More than just being a part of the Pretty Little Liars universe, it was my first big job. It's the first time I got to be on a set for more than a week or two weeks. It was an absolute dream. And our show is so different from the original, so I think being part of the PLL universe wasn't really on my mind, because we were trying to create something unique. But now I've done the premiere and met Sara Shepard, and we're seeing the reaction from fans, because that's what's incredible about the PLL universe is there's this incredibly enthusiastic and passionate fan base. That has been so, so cool. The response has been better than I expected.

This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.

New episodes of Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin drop Thursdays on HBO Max.

Sign up for Entertainment Weekly's free daily newsletter to get breaking TV news, exclusive first looks, recaps, reviews, interviews with your favorite stars, and more.

Related content: