Pasadena, Calif. — ABC’s Secrets and Lies reminds viewers how quickly lives can change.
“What’s so compelling about the story is that it could happen to you,” said executive producer Timothy Busfield Wednesday during the TCA winter press tour. “That you wake up one morning and all of a sudden you are the focus of Juliette Lewis’ character [a detective] and your life is upside down.”
That story centers around Ben Crawford, played by Ryan Phillippe, who is accused of murdering a child in a close-knit town.
“The journey has very much been Crawford’s attempts to prove his innocence and in doing so what it becomes much more about are the secrets and lies all all around the people around him are keeping,” said executive producer Barbie Kligman, who joined Busfield and executive producer Aaron Kaplan as well as actors Dan Fogler, Natalie Martinez, Juliette Lewis, Phillippe and KaDee Strickland.
Perceptions are a big part of Secrets and Lies.
“I think it sort of speaks to those ideas and how judgmental of a society we become and how when something is salacious and it’s presented in a certain way that becomes the truth of the thing whether it is or not,” said Phillippe.
Kligman added: “Ben’s perception of Detective Cornell is not necessarily who Detective Cornell is the same way Ben’s perception that all the neighbors are turning on him. That’s certainly happening. But the neighbors are behaving in a way consistent with them hiding their own secrets.”
Other highlights front he panel included:
—Lewis talked about researching the role of a detective, saying that she went on ride-alongs and watched interrogations to help her prepare. Her experiences shaped her character into the tough woman seen on screen. “My character does not lead or function or operate with that kind of emotion and she can’t to do her job well. So that was really challenging to play.”
—Secrets and Lies is based on an Australian show of the same name, which Kaplan said helped give them a blueprint for the show. “What we saw in this format was an opportunity to do a much bigger, different kind of show,” he said.
—Kligman revealed that at the end of the season the mystery of who killed the child will be resolved and that if subsequent seasons are ordered she could see them focusing on different stories.
—During the panel, Phillippe mentioned that filming the series was exhausting. Busfield said that the series was shot 60-70 hours per week and that Phillippe’s character is in every scene. “This is a guy who every day showed up on time, knew his lines, ready to play and gave it his all and that’s exhausting,” said Busfield.
—Secrets and Lies brought comparisons to Gracepoint and Broadchurch. But Kligman said the ABC show is different. “Gracepoint, and Broadchurch, is more traditional in terms of the many points of view and going on a journey with two detectives who are solving a case of a murdered boy. Our show is a singular point of view. And for season one it’s the prime suspect. We’re not with Detective Cornell unless Ben Crawford is with Detective Cornell. And I think that’s a very important distinction because ours is a character drama with an underlying mystery.”