Interview by Rafy Mediavilla with show runner/creator Meaghan Oppenheimer about Hulu’s “Tell Me Lies” series. We spoke about adapting the novel, the amazing ensemble and how far they were allowed to go. Now streaming on Hulu!
“Tell Me Lies” follows a tumultuous but intoxicating relationship as it unfolds over the course of 8 years. When Lucy Albright and Stephen DeMarco meet at college, they are at that formative age when seemingly mundane choices lead the way to irrevocable consequences. Although their relationship begins like any typical campus romance, they quickly fall into an addictive entanglement that will permanently alter not only their lives, but the lives of everyone around them.
We know this is a work of fiction, but the story as it was told felt real. I wonder what from the novel translate to the characters in the series, or what was created for the series?
I think in terms of the ensemble characters outside of Lucy and Stephen. They were so small in the book that we really got to create those from scratch more or less, and, you know, find all new things for them. Because the book was so focused just on Lucy and Stephen. And I think Lucy and Stephen are definitely, I think, emotionally very truthful to the characters in the book. But all of us in the writers room pulled a lot from our real lives and our own experiences to just flesh these characters out.
For the audience that haven’t read the book, they are not so caught up on Lucy and Stephen. What had to change in order to captivate that audience, to drive them from the book to the series or vice versa?
Well, I think casting is number one. You know, if you have the right actors in the roles and they’re people that you can’t stop watching, then you’ve done 90% of your work for you. And I think it’s just about keeping the writing sharp and intentional and never wasting time. I really try not to. Even though there is a lot of silence in their pauses, I try to make sure that they’re all for a purpose so that people don’t get bored because nowadays people have no attention span.
Coming from the book to the series, and it being so sexy and so open. How much were you able to push those limits?
Well, Hulu is wonderful and they are… For them, it’s go as far as you need to to tell the story as long as it’s not gratuitous. And so there is a lot of sex in the show, but it’s never just for the point of having a sex scene. You know, some of the sex is sexy. Some of it’s really sad. Some of it’s really awkward, some of it’s embarrassing. And so, yeah, we definitely were able to push a lot of limits, but then we would also pull things back when we felt like we were going too far or more than we needed to do.
And we also spoke to our actors. You know, there was they were always very, very involved in all the sex scenes and no one did anything they did not want to do. And there were times when a couple of actors would be like, you know, I don’t think we actually need the sex scene. And I was like, Great, we don’t need it, you know? So yeah.
For people that are coming completely blind into the series just by seeing the trailer, just seeing one side of the story. What can they expect from it?
They will see more sides of the story. For sure they will. The trailer is definitely mostly from Lucy’s point of view. We will absolutely learn about Steven’s emotional internal life, his family, his back story, but also all of the ensemble characters. We will get to dive into their secrets as well.
See the interview below: