By Stacey Harrison
Last time I spoke with Alexandra Chando, she had no idea what was about to hit her. Her ABC Family drama, The Lying Game, was about to launch, and she wasn’t exactly sure how she might handle the onrush of sudden fame. Fans of shows on the teen-friendly network tend to be rather devoted.
But, as with the mammoth acting job she took on in portraying long-lost twins Emma and Sutton — whose background and personalities present as much variety as any actor could want — she took it in stride. And as the series ends its first season with tonight’s episode, “Unholy Matrimony,” she took some time to speak to us about what to expect, and how she’s handled her whole new life.
Channel Guide Magazine: Last time I spoke with you was just before the show premiered, and you weren’t really sure how you might handle all the fame that might be coming your way. Well, how’s it been for you?
Alexandra Chando: It’s been great. It’s been a little bit of a different experience for me because we do shoot in Austin [Texas], so we’re kind of in our own little bubble there. It’s kind of nice that you can go to work and just work, and then come home and be normal. I did notice, which was kind of wild to me, the last couple times I was in New York, being recognized a lot. Which is fantastic, I mean, it’s so exciting that people are watching the show. It’s a little surreal, but it’s great. It’s been fun.
CGM: Do fans approach you as Emma, Sutton or Alex?
AC: They usually just ask if I’m on The Lying Game. But I was walking down the street once in New York, and I heard someone yell, “Sutton!” So, I don’t know, maybe I looked more like Sutton that day.
CGM: How has it been going through the whole season playing two characters? Do they try to help you out on the production side?
AC: They try their best to schedule it where I’m just Emma all one day, or I do all the Sutton scenes in one day. But obviously the scenes where I’m both Emma and Sutton, we film those on the same day. But we try to keep it pretty consistent as far as that goes, so I don’t have to do too much back and forth. I have moments where it gets frustrating, because the switch has to happen so fast because we’re on a time schedule, so by the time I switch over and get on set, the first couple of takes I need to get my bearings. But it’s gotten a lot easier … differentiating two characters. I know them so well now.
CGM: As the season went on, were you privy to all the twists and turns ahead of time, or did you find out episode-to-episode?
AC: I don’t like to know. I like to be surprised when I read the script, so I prefer not to find out to early on. It also confuses me what I’m playing on that day, if I know too far ahead.
CGM: At the end of the last episode, Emma and Ethan seemed to be pretty much done. Will their relationship be revisited in the finale?
AC: Their relationship is definitely revisited. It was really hard for Emma [when she found out Ethan had kissed Sutton], she was heartbroken. Ethan tries his best to do what he can to prove himself to her, and try to get her back. He’s very apologetic, but we’ll definitely see more of them in the finale.
CGM: So what kind of a season finale is this, the kind that ties up loose ends or just sets up more cliffhangers for next season?
AC: It’s a mixture. The Ted and Kristin situation that’s been going on the last couple episodes has come to a head, so there’s some answers there. There’s definitely questions answered, and then there’s this huge cliffhanger that is very shocking.
CGM: After a full season of playing them, how do you see Emma and Sutton’s very complicated relationship?
AC: I think there’s definitely an underlying connection. But I think that they’re still trying to figure out where their relationship stands and the dynamic of it, definitely. But they do have a connection, that twin connection. But they’re very different and need to figure out how they can work together.
CGM: Could they be friends someday?
AC: Maybe. I don’t know if I want that, though. (laughs)
CGM: Do you look at it like Emma is the hero and Sutton is the villain, or is it more complicated than that?
AC: I think it’s more complicated, not so black and white. Sutton, yes, she does malicious things and does things that are definitely not OK. The thing about her, I don’t think she just does it to be mean. It comes from a place of hurt and, I think, self-defense. She’s very dynamic in that sense where it’s, you know at the ranch, she let her wall down with Ethan and then the next episode he tells her that she meant nothing to him. So the walls go back up and she’s hurt and her defense mechanism is to do things to hurt people. I don’t think it’s as black and white as people say, you know, the good twin and the bad twin.
Photo: © 2012 Disney Enterprises, Inc. Credit: Felicia Graham