Pretty Little Liars returns with a new story, new liars

Lea Salonga channels own mom for her role

YOU don’t need to have watched the original TV series Pretty Little Liars to enjoy the upcoming Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin, said one of its stars, award-winning Filipino actress and singer Lea Salonga.

Ms. Salonga made a surprise appearance during the advanced screening of the series’ first episode on July 20 in Powerplant Mall in Makati City.

Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin premieres this weekend on HBO GO.

She assured the audience at the screening that watching the original series from 2010 is not required to jump into the new adaptation.

“Hopefully when you see the first episode, you will feel as passionate as we do and that this is something worth investing the time in to sit and binge,” she said. “I’ve been excited since I started filming it… Hopefully, you all enjoy it.”

The original series of the franchise, Pretty Little Liars, premiered in 2010 and ran for seven seasons. Based on the series of novels of the same title written by Sara Shepard, the story of Original Sin takes place within the same continuity as the previous series.

Original Sin introduces a new generation of “liars.” Twenty years ago, a series of tragic events almost ripped the blue-collar town of Millwood apart. Today, a group of teen girls — Tabby, Noa, Imogen, Minnie, and Faran are the new set of Little Liars — find themselves tormented by an unknown assailant known as “A” and made to pay for the secret sin committed by their parents two decades ago. The story in Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin is miles away from Rosewood, but within the existing Pretty Little Liars universe.

In the series, Ms. Salonga plays the recurring character Elodie, one of the Liars’ mothers. She said that the character reminded her of her own mother.

“There are more similarities between Elodie and my own mother than there are between Elodie and myself,” Ms. Salonga said, referring to how her mother would react to a situation depicted in the series. “I had so much of my mother to pull from to create this character.”

The slasher teen drama is relatable with its very human relationships, she said.

“Whatever your relationship is with your mother or father. I think you will find something relatable in anyone of the girls because we see each of their relationships,” Ms. Salonga said. “It makes the horror part or slasher part more horrifying because we are investing in human beings and seeing their vulnerability.”

“We wanted it to feel different from the original,” executive producer and writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Riverdale, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina) said in the series’ behind the scenes featurette, which is accessible on HBO Max’s YouTube page.

“We wanted to tell a story about the sins of the mother being visited upon the child,” co-executive producer and co-writer Lindsay Calhoon Bring (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina) said in the same video.

“The direction we went was making ‘A’ a slasher villain akin to Michael Myers,” of the Halloween horror movie franchise, Ms. Bring said of the villain who has no name and face.

Bailee Madison, Chandler Kinney, Zaria, Malia Pyles, and Maia Reficco star as the new generation of Liars. Joining the cast are Mallory Bechtel, Sharon Leal, Elena Goode, Eric Johnson, Alex Aiono, and Ms. Salonga.

To find clues to the identity of A, the lead actresses said in an interview with Entertainment Tonight that audience members should keep an open mind.

“Pay attention to little things in the background that will give you guys clues,” Ms. Reficco said.

“Don’t count anything or anyone out,” Ms. Kinney said.

The first three episodes of Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin’s 10-episode season will be released this weekend. Two new episodes be released on Aug. 4 and 11, and the final three episodes will drop on Aug. 18.

One can stream or download Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin on HBO GO. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman