Elena Goode stars as Marjorie on the HBO Max original series Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin. Elena’s character Marjorie is part of a group of moms holding on to a dark secret from decades earlier that has shaped and defined their lives. In the present day, their daughters have begun paying the price when a masked assailant has taken matters into their own hands. Enter A.
We had the pleasure of chatting with Elena about her character Marjorie and her relationship with Noa, working with the amazing cast and crew, how Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin has reimagined the slasher genre, and the intense twists and turns ahead.
Read on for our exclusive interview with Elena Goode below:
Can you talk a little about your character Marjorie and what viewers can expect from her?
Marjorie, depending on your perspective, can be seen as a victim or a villain depending on the situation that she’s in. She’s definitely someone that struggles but she is someone that doesn’t give up. She’s complex and complicated and I think that as a result she puts a lot of undue pressure on her daughter, Noa. You’re going to see how that affects Noa and her life and challenges throughout the season.
I was very deep in the original Pretty Little Liars universe. I spent many years theorizing and enjoying the ride. Were you familiar with the original series at all before accepting this role?
I was. I jumped on the train late but I jumped on the train. I loved how everything unfolded in the final season and some of the unexpected romantic relationships that blossomed. I really enjoyed the twists and turns.
I recognize that with Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin. Every time I think I have it figured out they do something where I have to say “Oh, never mind.”
Yes. I felt that way even though I obviously know based on reading the scripts and being in the show. Me and the other actresses who play the moms are in a text group and we are texting each other like “Wait what happened with Mouse? Can you remind me because this is really a twisty journey?” We find ourselves enjoying the mystery and inadvertently forgetting. The show plays out so well and hints at other possibilities and other answers for how storylines and mysteries will unfold.
In the original series, the parental figures of the show were always oblivious to what was happening around them when it came to A. It would almost seem that this time around, it’s the parents’ turn to be tortured. Just in case the parents were feeling left out, A is an equal opportunity torturer. How has that been to play a more involved role in the mystery?[laughs] That’s been really exciting. I think that anytime I’ve ever booked a role in my career, I’m always really open to the unknown. You read the script and have an idea of what’s going to happen but sometimes things change and sometimes the writing evolves. There’s always a journey that you go on whether it’s on television or on film. That’s one of the things that makes this job exciting.
Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin in particular is really thrilling because we did not get the final episodes until the end when we were shooting them. The degree of the involvement of the parents has been exciting and thrilling for me. I was able to go on a journey similar to the audience of discovery as I was reading the script and understanding the depth of the involvement of the mothers. As an artist, it’s exciting to perform. All the screams and the jump scares and spooky sets that we were able to be on were really exciting for all of the actresses playing the mothers.
We just saw a Halloween-themed episode that really got us in the mood for spooky season. How has that experience been filming a darker series on location? Any fun memories?
Oh my gosh, yes. There were so many. Shooting late has the quality of one big sleepover. When the clock goes past 10 pm and you’re with everybody and it’s dark and cold and everybody’s dressed up, it starts to take on this feeling of a late night sleepover with a Ouija board. Everybody is in their own delirious state of performing and excitement.
I would have to say some of my fun memories are just hanging out in my trailer between takes with the other actresses just telling stories and getting to know everyone. This may be a spoiler so I have to be delicate but in the end, there were some late nights together where we were delirious together, just were all screaming and cracking up for hours. Shooting the finale was one of the most memorable experiences for me personally and as an artist.
Hmm. Interesting. I feel like no one is laughing on this show and they’re all screaming for very different reasons.
Definitely. The laughing was between shots to lighten the tone in between the screams.
The producers, the writers, and cast are all such an incredibly talented group. How has that experience been working with them? I mean Lea Salonga, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa…
Sometimes I just pinch myself especially when people start singing. That for me is so much fun.
I love that Lea Salonga’s character is Disney-obsessed.
Isn’t that so fitting? [laughs]
How has that experience been working with the other moms?
Amazing. One of the things I expected is that they would be powerhouse performers as they, of course, are. But what was a surprise was the friendships that I’ve come away with each and every one of them. We spend time together in LA, we have dinner together, and we do activities.
For a lot of people based on what industry you’re in, it can be a singular experience. But one of the things that I loved about being on a show and being able to work with and get to know such interesting people, is the relationships that I get to develop. Working with the moms has been really exciting and inspiring. Getting to know them has been wonderful because I’ve developed some great friendships.
That’s really special. It can be hard to find those creative connections and grow together.
Speaking more broadly, what we’ve all gone through the last few years, I think people have been habituated to doing things on their own or being more acclimated to working on their own. We’re all craving more connection now and more community.
Arguably, Noa has gotten a bigger brunt of A’s wrath so far on the series. She’s come face to face with the masked figure and A is using the family secrets against her. Can you talk a little about how your character will be dealing with the fallout or consequences of those secrets?
Yes. Each individual mother has their own coping strategy. That can be denial, that can be avoidance. That can be self-soothing and numbing. That can be control. I think that Noa has been receiving a tremendous amount of heat from A. Marjorie’s way of coping with that has absolutely been numbing herself. She’s really checked out. For her, any confrontation is met by avoidance and withdrawal, and denial. That’s definitely been her coping mechanism in her life.
I think that positions Noa to have to be the one to deal with the confrontations and the intensity. In many ways, their dynamic is reversed. Where Noa is more the adult. Inadvertently, Marjorie is hiding behind her daughter in many ways.
The relationship between Noa and Marjorie is so special because they lean on and support each other throughout everything. What can we expect to see from this relationship evolving moving forward?
Yes, there are going to be some shifts and changes as things unfold throughout the season. There’s going to be some hope there for some shifts and changes in their relationship but you never know.
This show is like a psychological thriller with so many twists and turns. What can you tease about what viewers can expect from the upcoming episodes? What are you most looking forward to them to see?
Wow. There’s so many fun things coming up. Without teasing too much…
I need a map.
Totally. I think viewers can expect absolutely more incredible delivery of the snark and the wit and the charm of the girls. I love watching them, and the way that they deliver in their scenes. It’s so much fun. The viewers are gonna get a deeper connection to each of the characters. I want to watch it with my family this Summer and ask them who they identify with most. Which Liar represents you? Each girl embodies a different relatable characteristic.
You can expect more mystery. As much as I think we’re going to want resolution and answers, you can expect more twists, more turns, and more mysteries that are gonna build and build until the very end.
What would you say to get someone to tune in if they were on the fence?
This would be my reason for tuning in. Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin takes a genre that has been very well established. The slasher genre. It revisits it and reimagines it in a way that is so fresh and so relevant and interesting that it’s completely new. Similar to Get Out. Get Out took what we thought we knew of horror and comedy and in an unexpected way introduced it to us that included a fresh eye, diversity, and excitement that was completely relevant and modern. That would be my pitch.
Now, more than ever we need that visibility.
Absolutely. And the women. One of the most exciting things for me about Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin, being in the industry, is working with so many female directors. This is the first time I’ve ever gotten to do that. That is a great reason to tune in in and of itself.
Definitely. When I first tuned in my first instinct when getting to know the characters was “Well, I don’t trust any of the men…”[laughs]
I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds.
If you’re familiar with the original series you may have a little bit of an edge.
I lost years of my life theorizing for Pretty Little Liars![laughs] We’ll see.
Thank you so much to Elena Goode for taking the time to speak with us!
Be sure to keep up to date with Elena Goode by following her on social media on Instagram.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
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