‘Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin’ Q&A: Bailee Madison Reflects on the Horrors Imogen Endured and Moving Forward

“I don’t think that ever goes away,” the actress told TheWrap

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the HBO Max series “Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin.”

At the end of “Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin,” Bailee Madison’s Imogen finally gave birth after a final battle with “A” — who turned out to be none other than Angela Waters’ twin brother. While Imogen thought about raising her child, who we now know was conceived from her sexual assault, she ultimately chooses to put her child up for adoption. But Madison thinks that, even without her baby, Imogen’s trauma will remain.

“I don’t think that ever goes away. I mean, what she had to go through, that exposing feeling of giving birth, all the trauma from her mom, all the trauma from ‘A,’” Madison told TheWrap. “I’m excited to see her get to try to figure out what that looks like for herself and in a way where she isn’t lacking support.”

In a new interview, the actress chatted with TheWrap about how she tried to find a connection to a character who she said in many ways felt deeply disconnected from her reality.

TheWrap: I really enjoyed the ending to Imogen’s story, watching her have to reconcile the horrible things her mother did with the image she had of her.

Bailee Madison: I think so much of what the first season does is it dives into what happens when you’re being raised by someone who isn’t honest and what happens when your whole world is one thing and then you quickly realize that you’re in a false reality. There’s something I was told a couple of years ago, which is, ‘You think your parents are superheroes and then one day you realize that they’re also flawed.’ That’s a hard thing to come to terms with, let alone the way that these mothers were in high school. But they still had a lot to learn. It’s one of those things where I think in that moment for Imogen, her whole world comes crashing down and she has to face the fact that not only was her mother a terrible person, but her mom hadn’t really grown enough to face that and to face her daughter. I think that’s the biggest heartbreak of all for her. But when everything comes full circle, there’s either a moment where you hold hatred and resentment or you choose to find the joy in the moments and the honesty within the moments. I think this show is about looking towards kindness and not living in the hatred. And I think for Imogen, that was a really important moment for her as as the season closed.

I also loved that, while there were definitely some parallels between the girls’ situation and their moms, they end up making conscious decisions to be better.

We always joke that the kids were the parents to their parents.

You wrote on Twitter that Imogen is a lot different than you, more so than a lot of your other roles. Can you elaborate?

I would say she was the most far removed from myself. I’m usually able to pinpoint [my character’s emotions] to something personal. With Imogen, the amount of trauma that she’s dealt with, there’s no way for me to source that kind of pain. Thankfully. But that is a pain that’s very real and very true to her and, unfortunately, so many women. So I think it was just mentally having to switch off a lot of Bailee and try to figure out the way in which Imogen’s mind works and what that trauma and pain would look like. Once the nine months wrapped up, I got home and my family was like, ‘Yeah, you’re a little off.’ But it was really fun to strip everything that I knew.

I think many will agree that Imogen and Tabby’s friendship is a highlight of the series. How did you and Chandler Kinney approach that story together, which is such a beautiful friendship but bonded by such a horrible experience?

I have so much love for Chandler. We know each other like the back of our hand. I remember early on, we didn’t know a lot about the season. A lot of what our characters confess or confided [in each other] about, we didn’t know until it was time for our characters to do that. So it was a bit of a guessing game when we first started the season. I think as you watch Tabby and Imogen grow, so much of it then became Chandler and I knowing each other and having seen each other in really low places off camera throughout the nine months [we were filming]. It is so heartbreaking the way these girls come together but it is such a beautiful thing that they found each other in this time. The pain of living in silence and not having someone to talk to.– the fact that they don’t have to do that anymore because of one another and that they can take power back and own their voice was such a beautiful thing. But so many little moments are really just Chandler and I being like, ‘You might tell us not to do this but we’re going to anyways.’

The road trip to Rosewood, specifically the scene where you’re singing in the car, is so great.

It’s very rare that Tabby and Imogen laugh, ever. I remember reading the script and being like, ‘Oh my God, it’s a girls trip.’ We had a lot of fun. We just kept playing that song over and then they were shooting B-roll [and] we were playing Taylor Swift. If we ever had to ride together [to set] in the mornings, music was a big part of it. I would look at her and be like ‘She needs ‘Cruel Summer’ by Taylor Swift.’ Or Chandler would be like, ‘She needs a little country vibe.’ Towards the end of the show, when everyone was getting tired — rightfully so — there was one morning where we were filming the finale and we were on our fourth day of filming this one specific scene. And we opened up the car doors as everyone was loading in and we blasted the music. Our whole crew started dancing.

Now that Imogen has given birth to her baby and chose adoption, how do you see her moving forward to begin coping with her trauma?

I don’t think that ever goes away. I mean, what she had to go through, that exposing feeling of giving birth, all the trauma from her mom, all the trauma from ‘A.’ I’m excited to see her get to try to figure out what that looks like for herself and in a way where she she isn’t lacking support. She now has the support of her friends who know her, who went through it as well with her. So I’m excited for some true, hopeful, joyful moments for all of them. I think what I love so much about this first season is that it gave everyone a chance to solidify who these characters were and let people understand them and watch these girls grow closer. I’m pro ‘Imogen has a hot girl moment.’ She deserves it. I think for me as an actor, I’m especially excited about the idea of going back because I feel like whoever Imogen is, it’ll be all the things we know about her but she has to be a completely different character at this point, because she’s been through so much. So to get to dive into that and discover who she is would be just so much fun.