Lucy Hale wasn’t necessarily looking to do another TV show so soon after the end of Freeform’s long-running PRETTY LITTLE LIARS, but the character of Stella on The CW’s new family dramedy LIFE SENTENCE proved too enticing.
“When we met her, she wasn’t actually looking to do another TV show right away,” co-creator and showrunner Erin Cardillo told Tracking Board ahead of the show’s premiere. “She was looking to do some comedy. So when we met and talked to her about this project, the show, I think the story and this character was more appealing to her rather than the idea that it would be on TV. I think she was maybe craving a little bit of a break -”
“But we did not give her one,” added co-creator and fellow showrunner Richard Keith.
“We did not give her one!” said Cardillo. “The character was the thing that was really interesting to her, and she jumped on board after reading the script.”
“I think one of the things that appealed to her, and which was important to Erin and me, on the heels of a show like This Is Us, which is great because it’s so positive… We were going to tell this story where this young woman’s life was going to be a mess, but she was really going to keep a positive attitude and affect positive change in her life and her family’s life,” said Keith. “I think that appealed to Lucy as much as it did to us.”
The character kept being developed following’s Hale’s attachment and subsequently embodied much of the actress’ personality and humor.
“Our original concept of this character was a ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl’ come to life,” said Cardillo. “Someone who watched all those cancer movies when they were sick and modeled themselves after the Manic Pixie Dream Girls in them, and Lucy really embodied that for us when we met her. She has those big doll eyes that sort of don’t seem real. There’s something really magical about her. But her personality, I think we really started writing for her, the way she speaks.”
“We met with her when we were still pitching the show,” added Keith. “When we were writing the pilot, we were writing it with the hope that she’d read it and be on board. Our goal was to write a scrip that she would read and go, oh my god I absolutely have to do this. And then as the show went on and we saw, not just how good she is at the drama, but how funny she is, and in what specific way she’s funny, as the series went on I think we tailored even more towards her, but I think our goal was always to marry our idea of this character and the reality of Lucy.”
Life Sentence premieres Wednesday, March 7 at 9 p.m. ET on The CW.
Linda Ge | TV Editor