Alexandra Chando In The Lying Game On ABC Family

Coming to ABC Family this Monday is the new one-hour scripted drama based on the novel of the same title by author, Sara Shepard (Pretty Little Liars). Having just read the novel earlier this month, I can say with assurance that I am very excited to see this fairly new book series come to life. Granted, some aspects of the book have been changed for the show but there’s still a lot to look forward to. The (executive) producers boast credits that range from Ugly Betty, Desperate Housewives, and Melrose Place, to Gossip Girl and The Vampire Diaries. So we know that we are in good hands. Also, the plot is just surreal, no matter how you mix up what comes next.

The Lying Game follows Emma, a kind-hearted foster kid who learns she has an identical twin sister, Sutton. Sutton, unlike Emma, was adopted by wealthy parents and is seemingly living an ideal life. After their initial meeting, Sutton talks Emma into stepping into her life for a few days while she pursues a lead on the mysterious identity of their birth mother.

After Sutton inexplicably fails to return to the girls’ designated meeting place, Emma must decide whether to come clean about her identity and risk her own safety in the hope of uncovering her twin sister’s whereabouts, along with the truth about why they were separated in the first place.

The Lying Game” stars Alexandra Chando (“As The World Turns”) as Emma/Sutton; Andy Buckley (“The Office”) as Ted; Helen Slater (“Supergirl”) as Kristin; Blair Redford (“90210”) as Garrett; Sharon Pierre-Louis (“Lincoln Heights”) as Nisha; Kirsten Prout (“Kyle XY”) as Char; Alice Greczyn (“Lincoln Heights”) as Mads; and Allie Gonino (“10 Things I Hate About You”) as Laurel. I am only familiar with 2-3 of these names, the most familiar being Kirsten Prout who I am thrilled to see back on ABC Family. But it’s Chando who will make or break it for me, as she plays the main characters, long-lost twin sisters, Emma Becker and Sutton Mercer.

Chando took some time off from set in Austin, TX to give a few details about the show. She says on the challenges of having dual roles, “To be able to develop two characters and kind of find different things about them and explore them each and every day has been incredible. It does come with its challenges, though. I have 15-hour work days and I’m working an awful lot compared to what I would be working if I was just playing one… It’s a challenge in the sense, besides the hours and the exhaustion, just trying to keep them straight sometimes.”

On telling the two apart, she says, “I think the hair and makeup is definitely a key element, as well as the wardrobe. When we started, I sat down with our hair and makeup ladies and wardrobe and we kind of planned it out how we were going to do each character; who gets what makeup; who wears their hair differently and which way. But I also think on top of that Sutton talks a little bit differently. It’s not necessarily an accent thing. She talks just a little bit differently as far as she always has a little bit of a drawl, in a way. She kind of grew up in that very privileged way, so she talks in that kind of manner. Her posture is different. She’s definitely a little bit more polished.”

On the characteristics of Emma and Sutton that she has brought to the table on her own:

I would definitely say for Emma, I try and bring a warmth to her and kind of a comedic lightness to her. She’s very smart. She’s intelligent. I think she’s one of those people that doesn’t realize how fantastic she really is in a way, which is interesting, and that’s fun to play. With Sutton, her characteristics are very different. I don’t know. Like I said, I’ve kind of drawn from the way I handle some emotional things to add to Sutton and kind of make her be a little bit of a stronger individual.

As for talk of the book and the series, Chando had this to say:

When we shot the pilot, which was in December, the first novel wasn’t out yet, so we didn’t get to read it until after the pilot was done being shot. But I did read the first one. I haven’t had a chance to read the second one yet, but I did read the first one and it was so helpful. It really helped paint the picture of who Emma was and where she came from and her upbringing and what she has kind of dealt with in the past.

The show does differ from the book. It’s a mystery and in order to keep fans intrigued and keep a television series going, we need to maintain that element of mystery… We did depart a little bit from the book, but it’s based on the characters and the lying games are mentioned.

So clearly there is a lot to look forward to and a lot to anticipate nervously. The series has received a 10 episode order and depending on its success, the first season could be extended, so be sure to tune in this Monday night to see what The Lying Game is all about! And be sure to pick up your copy of the book as well!

The Lying Game Series Premiere Airs Monday, August 15, 2011 at 9/8c on ABC Family.