At the focus of ABC's new drama Secrets and Lies are the murder of a young boy and his neighbor, Ben Crawford (Ryan Phillippe), who's suspected of killing him. But unlike other serialized mysteries, you don't have to wait more than 10 episodes to know for sure who committed the crime.
Adapted from the Australian series of the same name, Secrets and Lies, which plans to feature a largely new cast and story each season, stars Phillippe as a family man who discovers the body of his neighbor's son while out on a run and is immediately thrown into the media spotlight as the police department's No. 1 suspect. Private Practice alum KaDee Strickland plays his estranged wife Christy — although the two are still married — while Juliette Lewis stars as the austere lead detective, Andrea Cornell, who is unwavering in her belief that Ben is guilty. But between a big bomb dropped at the end of the series premiere, conflicting accounts of the day in question and other dubious actions from a multitude of characters, viewers will be left wondering until the very end of the season to find out what really happened.
Get more scoop — and seven truths! — about Secrets and Lies.
1. No cliff-hangers here!
Executive producer Barbie Kligman revealed during the Television Critics Association winter previews in January that the show was planned as an anthology series. "The mystery of Ben Crawford and who killed Tom will be resolved at the end of this season," she said. "And, hopefully, in subsequent seasons we'll have a different mystery. The only ongoing mystery is Detective Cornell as we sort of unpeel the layers of who she is."
2. They shot multiple endings.
Even the cast doesn't know who really did it! Strickland tells TVGuide.com, "[Director Timothy Busfield] would say, 'You could be the person! So this time do a take this way because if it's you you'll want to do something interesting there.' I still don't know [who the murderer is], which is what's so wonderful about shooting multiple endings — I'll find out when the viewers find out."
3. It hit home.
For both Strickland and Phillippe, filming the murder mystery was taxing. "This is the first time I've portrayed a mother since becoming a mother and it influences your work," Strickland says. "You have no idea how different it is to project the fear of the death of a child until you've actually had one; it's a different ball of wax. It's truly a terrifying scenario and as a new mother, it rocked my world." Adds Phillippe, "I felt very much in the throes of the material throughout the experience. Every day I was playing a guy whose life was falling apart, who was being accused, who was being slandered. [There's] so much negativity in the material ... and there were things about that I would take home with me."
4. Juliette Lewis doesn't care if you don't like her (character).
Be warned: You most likely will not like Lewis' Detective Cornell. Her response? "I don't care! I don't care to be likable and, in fact, all I ever want to do is make feel people something." About her character's tough exterior, Lewis says, "She doesn't lead with her emotions and no matter what the view [is], it's not personal. You'll learn a little more about her backstory in Episode 8 or 9 and how her obsessiveness has served her well on the job, but has compromised relationships in life. I modeled her off of this [real] detective who's a married mother of two and she's caring and loving, but on the job, you won't know any of that because she's a homicide detective first and foremost. It's challenging for me to play a character who keeps her cards close to the vest and has a poker face; it's completely different from myself."
5. Webisodes will tell you more.
Following each episode, ABC will post webisodes called "Cornell: Confidential," which will provide a deep dive into Cornell's investigation. "You see me do interrogations and me behind the scenes following other leads," Lewis says. "You'll understand more why she then goes this way or that way with the case." One to three minutes in length, the webisodes will also feature series regulars or guest stars offering additional clues and bonus content.
6. It could happen to you.
Perhaps the scariest part about the show's theme is that anyone could be (wrongfully) suspected of a crime. "[Ben's] an everyman," Busfield says. "What's so compelling about the story is that it could happen to you. You wake up one morning, and all of a sudden you are the focus of Juliette Lewis's character, and your life is upside-down." Adds Strickland, "These are very normal people with normal jobs that live in a small neighborhood — people we know."
7. There will be some light moments.
Yes, it's a largely dark show, but cast member Dan Fogler, who plays Ben's best friend and lives with the family, provides some levity. "Fogler brings quite a bit of humor to the character, which allows you to take a breath now and again," Kligman says. Adds Fogler: "He's a bit of a loose canon, he's a rock-and-roller and gets intro trouble, a fun character, but he is very loyal."
Secrets and Lies premieres on Sunday at 9/8c on ABC.
Watch Juliette Lewis explain the show in emojis!