The Original Sin star breaks down all the references to the OG series.
Bailee Madison has been theorizing about A long before she was cast as the lead in Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin. Now, the stan has become the star, living her best “final girl” fantasy as A’s new target Imogen Adams. After years of waiting to get a text from A, her dream (or, nightmare) has come true. “The girls and I all teared up and got goosebumps when we filmed the first text from A,” Madison tells Elite Daily, referring to Imogen and her four friends all getting a creepy text after she was crowned the Spirit Week queen. “We were like, ‘We’re Little Liars! This is the show that we’ve all grown up watching and has meant something to us.’”
Spoiler alert: This interview discusses events throughout the first five episode of Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin. It’s clear that Madison’s devotion to the original series, which defined teen drama in the 2010s, informed so much of her experience in making Original Sin. She sees Imogen as a combination of Spencer and Aria, with maybe just a dash of Hanna. “I think that won’t come out until Season 2,” Madison teases. “But I do think Imogen’s humor falls along those lines.”
Despite sharing a name with the 2010 show, Original Sin carves out its own gory niche. The new series is significantly darker and bloodier than the first PLL, leaning much more heavily into the slasher genre. While speaking with Elite Daily, Madison was eager to hear any and all theories, and she even dropped some clues... if you’re a sharp enough PLL stan to catch them.
Below, Madison dishes on theories about A’s identity, who the hell the father of Imogen’s baby could be, and what fans can expect from the season finale and beyond.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Elite Daily: You’ve said before that you were a huge fan of the original Pretty Little Liars. What aspects of the original show did you really want to recapture in this new iteration?
Bailee Madison: It was very clear early on that the whole team had the same understanding that I did as an OG fan, which was that you cannot recreate the original. We wanted to respect what was created, and have influences and nods. I think the most important nod is the core friendship, at the end of the day. I loved watching these girls turn into women before our eyes, and watching the way that their friendship formed and got stronger and stronger, and the humor and inside jokes between them. The thing that was important to all of us was making sure that when you had these girls in a room you had the same level of care as the original. You wanted them to be safe and protected, and they made you laugh, and you felt almost like you were a part of their group.
ED: What do you think most differentiates Original Sin from the original PLL?
BM: This show is incredibly darker and grittier; our A has no remorse when it comes to just slaughtering people. And also, there are a couple of storylines that might mirror the original at first, but I think we as a generation and a society now have been able to speak up about so much that was kind of unheard or unspoken back when the original was out. So I’m excited for a fresher take on those topics, and for those stories to finally get told.
ED: Have there been any PLL Easter eggs so far that fans might have missed?
BM: We will have those specific nods in the upcoming episodes. In the first five episodes, we wanted to make sure you could settle into the world of Millwood, even though we are literally so close to Rosewood. That will be my hint.
ED: Was there something specifically that helped you and the rest of the cast really settle into this PLL world?
BM: Our director Lisa Soper was able to get the the original mockups of the Pretty Little Liars sets with all of the notes and the writing about the coffee shop and their bedrooms. She had the physical pages from back then that she brought to rehearsals one day, and we got to hold them and look through them. As the superfans, Maia and I started crying; we were tearing up. That was really cool because at the same time, our sets were being built just a few hallways down and our world was being created, so it was a really beautiful full-circle moment.
ED: It really seems like the bond between you five is as strong off-camera as it is on the show. Do you all have a group chat?
BM: Our group chat is called “A’s B*tches.” Then we also have one called “Liars,” and then we have “The Millwood Crew.” We hop back and forth on all the group chats. Our bond was great; we were genuinely thrown into this show for nine months of our life. We were filming in the middle of COVID still, which meant we couldn’t really have visitors and we weren’t able to fly back home. We were in upstate New York in these little cabins, so our family quickly became each other. We didn’t really have a choice, but at the same time we were so grateful because we all just meshed so beautifully like we had known each other for years.
One of the reasons I was so excited to join a show like this is I’ve never been able to experience the hours that come with a YA show. I remember I used to follow all the PLL girls and I’d to see them up at like 3 a.m. with five coffees by their cast chairs, and I’d be like “Aw, I wanna do that one day!” And then before you know it we’re all drinking coffees and trying to stay up. It’s so fun to watch us get closer and closer on-screen because the reality was that’s exactly what was happening off-screen.
ED: You had the unique experience of wearing a pregnancy belly for pretty much all of your scenes. What was that like?
BM: I was so excited when I heard I was going to be pregnant, because I was like, “This is amazing, I can have a test run. Like, I can see what I’m going to look like on day.” So in the beginning it was really amazing. But I did have to hide the pregnancy stomach for so long, because no one was supposed to know about Imogen’s pregnancy. So I actually did feel like I had a secret pregnancy. I actually started getting back pain towards the end of the season, and my ribs started kind of getting funny because of the way the pregnancy suit was squishing on my back and ribcage. Malia [Pyles] would be like, “I actually need you to have this child. Like, you look like you’re ready to have this baby.” They all call me Mama B in the group anyway, so I think it was fitting that I was the one wearing the stomach.
ED: OK, I want to get into some theories. As of Episode 5, we’ve only actually seen A kill Karen and Tyler, who were enemies of the Liars. Could A actually be an ally to them instead of a rival?
BM: You know, we can only hope, right? Not everything is as it seems on our show — it does a really good job at keeping you guessing. I think there’s definitely a thought in their minds that A might possibly be trying to fix things, but also the way A goes about it is very different than what the girls would hope. I would say it’s a great theory and keep watching.
ED: At the end of Episode 5, Imogen says she can relate to Tabby’s assault. Is that connected to her pregnancy, and are we going to find out more about the baby’s father this season?
BM: Absolutely, yeah. That’s the moment when these two women who have lived in silence for a really long time and have had a lot of hurt and pain really find each other when they both need it most. I think the two of them want that truth for one another, so knowing Imogen and knowing Tabby, they’re both going to stop at nothing to try to find out the truth for each other at the end of the day.
ED: Have there been any clues about the father’s identity that viewers may have missed up to this point?
BM: I mean, I would consider them as clues, but I can’t tell you what they are. I would just say pay attention. You really have to go back and rewatch things, and try to pay closer attention to people around them and things like that.
ED: The Karen/Kelly twin mystery is such a PLL staple, but I remember there was a lot of backlash when the original PLL ended with a totally out-there twin twist. Do you remember how you felt about that finale as a fan?
BM: I think after a show is so successful after so many years, I don’t know how you can possibly please everybody. As a fan, I remember reading interviews with cast and they had a much darker ending planned that they weren’t able to do. So, given what they were allowed to do with the platform that they were on, I would assume they did push it the best they could. And I think Troian [Bellisario] is such a joy to watch, so for me it was such a joy to watch her go completely ham. I think all of us just didn’t want it to end, so it was less the thing of “That’s the finale?” and more so just not wanting the show to end. But I was satisfied; I celebrate their finale for sure.
ED: How do you think Original Sin is approaching the idea of twins differently from PLL?
BM: We wanted to bring back that nostalgic feeling with the twins. And twins in recent years have kind of been prominent in shows like this, so it was important for us to make sure we weren’t following a familiar trajectory, but that we were also delivering something just as juicy. I think that people will love what’s to come for the Karen and Kelly story.
ED: What can we expect from the season finale?
BM: The finale is huge. When we all got the script we were freaking out in the group chat. Our first question was, “How are we actually going to finish this on time?” Because every scene is so big. There isn’t a second in the finale where you’re not going to have your jaw drop and be like, “Holy sh*t! Wait, what?” There’s so much in our show that we’re so excited to keep moving forward with. These characters have so much yet to go through, and I don’t think you have to sit in the same story to be able to go through those stories. Things can lead to things, if that makes any sense. We’ve still got secrets, but I think you’ll feel very satisfied as a viewer at the end of the season.
ED: If Season 2 gets picked up, what are your dreams for the next season?
BM: If I tell you what I want to see the girls do it genuinely will give things away, but I will say they were almost forced to grow up quickly within this first season due to what they went through. I think it would be really interesting to pick up with them when maybe they’ve all settled for a moment, and then see everything go to complete sh*t. I just think there’s so much we can push in our following seasons and many more stories to tell, and it can get grittier and darker as the seasons progress. I’m just excited to push the boundaries more hopefully within a second season.
New episodes of Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin drop Thursdays on HBO Max.