Mallory Bechtel & Zaria Interview: Pretty Little Liars Original Sin

HBO Max's Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin introduces a new generation of unique characters to follow in the footsteps of Freeform's Pretty Little Liars, which ran from 2010-2016 and starred the likes of Troian Bellisario, Lucy Hale, Ashley Benson, and Shay Mitchell. Among Original Sin's cast are Mallory Bechtel and Zaria. Bechtel plays Karen Beasley, a ballerina and entitled mean girl, while Zaria plays Faran Bryant, also a ballet dancer, who deals with both illness and alienation from her peers.

Zaria previously appeared in Black-ish, Two Distant Strangers, and most recently, Bosch: Legacy. Bechtel has played roles in Hereditary and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Original Sin also stars Chandler Kinney, Bailee Madison, Maia Reficco, and Malia Pyles as part of its core group of Liars.


Related: Original Sin Repeats Pretty Little Liars' Best Family Trick

Screen Rant interviewed Bechtel and Zaria about embodying their characters in Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin and what they'd like to see in the show's future.


Zaria as Faran Bryant in Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin

Screen Rant: Mallory, Karen immediately appears as a mean girl. What was it like for you to take on that kind of character?

Mallory Bechtel: So great. I loved every little bit of meanness. Every opportunity to be awful is such a great joy as an actor to be like, "Why? What is motivating this behavior?" So, any mean girl, it's fun to dive into that and to try and understand and empathize — well, where is this actually coming from?

Karen is such a beautifully flawed character and we do get to go and see what her home life is like and try to understand why she's like this. I always feel weird saying it, but any opportunity, any moment with the Liars where I'm just supposed to be so awful, it's such a great joy to do 'cause you don't get to do it in real life. You feel a little naughty. I love playing Karen so much. I love her as a character.

In the first episode, we learn that Faran is a ballet dancer. Zaria, do you have a background in that or did you have to prepare for that aspect of your role?

Zaria: There was a lot of preparation that went in. I danced a lot throughout my life, but it's never been consistent. So, I wouldn't put the crown of dancer on my head, but I would say that we had like eight-hour dance rehearsals. It was like, "Great, pause for a drink of water" [laughs] and Kelly Devine taught us and it was really, really, really beautiful to be able to step into those point shoes and be what I think is so beautiful, which is an artist and an athlete combined into one.

Which cast member is most like their character?

Zaria: Definitely not this one. [laughs] Most unlike her character. The most like their character?

Mallory Bechtel: I would say Maia.

Zaria: Maia's quite like her character, yes.

Mallory Bechtel:Maia is very funny in real life. I don't want to call her crass, it's not the word.

Zaria: Yeah, she says what she thinks.

Mallory Bechtel: Yeah, she's to-the-point. She reminds me of Noa, and also [she's] just so sweet, too.

Zaria: You know who's a lot like his character as well? Ben Cook, who plays Henry. In the best ways.

Mallory Bechtel: They're both great dancers.

Zaria: Yeah, exactly. In that way and that he's protective and a great friend, so I think those two people.

Did you take any inspiration from the original Pretty Little Liars series in your portrayal of your characters?

Mallory Bechtel: I mean, how could I not? You try. I would hope to be similar to Alison. I certainly did not want to try and emulate, replicate her performance because no one could ever and Sasha Pieterse is such a genius. I did have hopes, like you can't help but be like, "OK this is the mean girl." Although, I like to say I think Karen's kind of a combo of Mona (Janel Parrish) and Alison and I recently heard a little bit of Melissa (Torrey DeVitto) too, and Jenna (Tammin Sursok). So, when I describe it to people who loved the original show, I'm like, "She's a combo, you know."

Zaria: For Faran, I just wanted to be really protective of her story and I was really excited to step into the same universe and also to represent something that I am excited to see in this world — which is a Black ballerina. So, it's really inspiring to be able to see their performances and then have a story that builds on that foundation.

Keeping it spoiler-free, how would you like to see your characters and this series evolve should there be a second season?

Mallory Bechtel: I have trouble answering that one. You go.

Zaria: To avoid spoilers, Faran is also dealing with chronic illness and she is struggling with the idea of being seen, whether it's being seen by her mother, being seen by the ballet world, being seen because she has a pain that people don't see just by looking at her. So, I think that I would love for her to feel seen because I think that would open her eyes to be able to see other people like Karen and Kelly, who are people who have hurt her in the past.

Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin Synopsis

pretty little liars characters and mystery "A" killer

Twenty years ago, a series of tragic events almost ripped the blue-collar town of Millwood apart. Now, in present day, a disparate group of teen girls — a brand-new set of Little Liars — find themselves tormented by an unknown Assailant and made to pay for the secret sin committed by their parents two decades well as their own.

In the dark, coming-of-age, horror-tinged drama Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin, we find ourselves miles away from Rosewood, but within the existing Pretty Little Liars universe — in a brand-new town, with a new generation of Little Liars.

Check out our other interview with Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin stars Bailee Madison & Chandler Kinney as well as creators Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa & Lindsay Calhoon Bring.