Ahead of its highly anticipated final season, Pretty Little Liars brought together the cast and crew for an illuminating oral history with Cosmopolitan magazine. Check out some of the juiciest tidbits below.

1. Lucy Hale was interested in playing Hanna first
Says creator creator I. Marlene King, "We started [pairing] her with some different guys for chemistry reads and that's when she realized she really wanted to be Aria. She was the first person we cast. She didn't have to audition because she already had a big following."

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2. Troian Bellisario's audition scene was cut from the pilot
Bellisario says, in addition to being certain she wasn't right for the part of Spencer, that her audition scene, which included her sneaking out of dinner with her family to smoke a cigarette with her sister's fiancé, got 86'd for being too risqué.

3. Shay Mitchell almost wasn't cast as Emily — but made producers change their minds at the last minute
"We had a really hard time finding Emily," I. Marlene King says. "We saw two [actors] on videotape, and I was inclined to go with the other person. But in the room, Shay just owned the character of Emily. She changed our minds in the room and got the role."

<em>Pretty Little Liars</em>Pretty Little Liars

4. King had big debates with the network...over smoking
"The biggest debate was [over] Wren smoking a cigarette!," King says, citing a Disney policy that frowns on people smoking. "But they allowed us to let him put out the cigarette butt in a plant holder. That was the most daring thing we did."

5. Your fan theory may not be that far off
Says Ian Harding: "I've also heard the theory that in the end, we find out it's all made up. I will not dispel that rumor."

6. Yes, they're aware of how ridiculous some of the turns are
You're not alone if you've noticed that the ladies aren't exactly novel students. As costume designer Mandi Line put it, they never go to class but always have time for coffee dates. Line says, "I'd be like, 'Marlene, did they go to school?' "Not yet!" "What time is it?" "1 p.m.!"

7. And of course, they're immensely proud of the show they've made
Especially since the pop culture phenomenon has featured same-sex romance, as well as meditations on how these women navigate some very grown-up situations, the cast and crew is glad to have made a show that's fundamentally a story about true friendship....among truly badass ladies.

Pretty Little Liars' final season premieres Apr. 18 at 8/7c on Freeform.