Supernatural, True Blood, Jessica Jones, and more. These are some of the series that television writer Raelle Tucker has been involved with over the course of her career. Most recently, she created the Facebook Watch series Sacred Lies, which has started airing its second season subtitled The Singing Bones.
I had a chance to speak with Tucker regarding the origin of the series and this upcoming season of the compelling show. Take a look at the series for yourself HERE!
Sacred Lies: The Singing Bones airs on Thursdays at 12 pm PT / 3 pm ET.
LRM Online: You are the brains of some my favorite shows, starting with a True Blood. I mean that’s pretty exciting for me.
Tucker: Thank you. It was a really fun, crazy, wacky six years of my life. I’m glad you have enjoyed it.
LRM Online: Yes. Thank you for sharing that wacky six years. So, now here we are. I’m speaking of Sacred Lies. Can we start from the beginning? I got a chance to check out the first six episodes, which were phenomenal and definitely keeps you hooked. How did you start with the concept, I mean, I know it’s based on a novel.
Tucker: It is not based on a novel.
LRM Online: Oh, thank you. Clarify.
Tucker: Our show is an anthology. The first season of our show, The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly, was inspired by a novel by that name that was written by Stephanie Oaks. It was an incredible sort of a modern fairy tale. I bought the option to that book and developed and turned it into what we thought initially was going to be a limited series. We sold that to Facebook Watch and made the first season. We got this incredible fan base of really loyal fans that found the show in season one, and we’re really in love with it and supportive and vocal, Facebook Watch came back to me and said, “Hey, we want more.” If you watched the first season of the show, you’ll see that it was very clearly intended to go 10 episodes. It wraps up. I hope in a really satisfying way. As a show that last season was about a girl with no hands, we really felt that this character has been through enough and deserves a happy ending. There really wasn’t a way to continue that story.
We wanted to take the tone and everything that everyone loved about the first season emotionally and kind of apply that to both a new fairy tale and a new mystery. I set out in November 2018, to try to figure out how to develop another 10-episode season. I was reading a ton of true crime cases, listening to the podcast and reading a bunch of Brothers Grimm fairytales and trying to batch all of these sources into something that would capture the essence of season one. That’s how I came upon this particular story and Facebook Watch, not knowing exactly what to do with it, but really being credible partners and trusting that I would deliver something that would satisfy the fan base just said, “All right, go with it. Make a new show,” and here we are.
LRM Online: Okay. Thank you so much for clarifying that. Which I was going to ask you, how did that part of the real-life murder cases were integrated in this season of Sacred Lies because that’s where I got from my production notes?
Tucker: Absolutely. There are multiple real actual cases weave into the show, but these are actual human beings’ lives. These are people that are often, many of them are actually still unidentified and they did have, you families out there and people that are grieving them. So for me, I never had any interest in naming, Oh, this is a fictionalized version of this person’s real life.
LRM Online: Right.
Tucker: Terrible story.
LRM Online: Of course.
Tucker: So I just, I pulled sources from multiple places and kind of crafted them into a work of fiction that is both a mystery and a fairy tale.
LRM Online: Okay. Thank you so much for explaining that part. I know in the scenes sometimes it says a fairy tale and then based a true story. So even watching a little bit late, the bit I got to watch firsthand, I was like, huh, this is intriguing. It makes you wonder like, what part was what?
Tucker: Yeah. There’s definitely some cases if you’re familiar at all with unidentified victims and instead of looking to that, that you will see direct parallel stories that we’re telling. Again, I feel weird sort of profiting or kind of fictionalizing someone’s actual tragedy and naming those cases.
LRM Online: Right. Can we talk a little bit about the casting of Sacred Lies? How involved were you? Then, also, you had some former True Blood talent in this production too and how that came about?
Tucker: I’m absolutely involved in casting. It’s sort of starts with me and the casting director, April Webster. We have conversations as the early first scripts are starting to be developed about who these characters are.
I don’t usually write for a specific actor because my experience in the past, if you can develop what you think is a true character for that actor, then their unavailable or they’re not interested and you end up sort of trying to rethink everything you’ve got. I tried to write characters that are just sort of fully formed as fictional people and don’t have an actress base on them. Occasionally, there’s like a moment where you can’t avoid it. Every time you think of them you just think of that actor. It happened particularly with Kristin Bauer, who played Pam on True Blood and plays Shannon, Elsie’s foster mother on Sacred Lies. While we were writing this character. I just kept seeing her. Every line I wrote for her. I just kept hearing Kristen say it and I thought, Kristin is very busy. She’s on all kinds of fancy shows. There’s probably no way that she’s going to be able to do this and show up. It was sort of a dream come true that she absolutely signed on right away and it was just a perfect fit. It’s everything I wanted for that character.
The same thing happened with Kimiko Glenn, who plays Lilly. Some of the other writers were saying it’s got to be her, it’s got to be her. I kept saying, guys, guys, guys, no, we don’t cast until we cast. Right. In our heads it was always her. So again, she signed on immediately and that both of those things just felt meant to be.
In terms of Ryan Kwanten, he’s a really good friend of mine actually, since True Blood. So, we’ve been looking for work to do together. I did not think he would be available because he was on another series. He was the lead of it at the time that I started working on this. So, didn’t even cross my mind until we had dinner one night and suddenly he was like, I don’t know if I’m going to go do that show again. Suddenly, it made perfect sense to me that it needed to be him. It’s a joy to get to work with these people that you have had six years to learn how to write for and you know their voices, and their talent, and what they can do and things that people haven’t seen them do, but you know, that they can pull off. it’s a joy to go to work with them.
Then of course, Juliette Lewis, I’ve been a rabid fan of hers. Natural Born Killers was one of the defining film for me in my late teens, early twenties. Her portrayal of that character, she was just always seems fearless, and just disappears into characters, and was just really brave and funny, and kind of terrifying in moments. I couldn’t believe that she was excited to do the part. It was that was a no brainer. As soon as she said she was interested, we were just begging her to come aboard.
LRM Online: That’s awesome. I did get a chance to speak with Jordan Alexander, newcomer who plays Elsie. How did you find her? How did you know it was her for Elsie?
Tucker: Yeah. All the rest of our cast are actors that I know or I’m familiar with their work. Some of them, they’re familiar. I always knew that Elsie’s character was going to be a new discovery for us. Similar to last season, Elena Kampouris was an actress that had done some work but most people had not heard of. It’s that thing. It’s almost like you really want the fresh face at the center of this. You want somebody who isn’t distracting, their past isn’t distracting so, you could absolutely just believe everything about this character that you’re meeting. We knew we were going to have to look really hard because we needed a person who could play guitar for real. She has multiple scenes in the show where she plays guitar and sing.
LRM Online: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Tucker: I had a sort of character, not look per se, but a feeling that I was really going for, which was this edgy, kind of tough, not the typical fairytale ingénue girl that you see. I wanted someone much more rough around the edges, much more sip versus to that pretty fairy princess image that we often had at the center of the show. So, I knew I wanted that. I needed somebody rough, but I also needed Elsie to have a tremendous amount of vulnerability and really be somebody that you could root for and care about because often the other characters surrounding her are pretty and moments off putting people and that’s my intention. So, Elsie is kind of the person whose story you latch onto. We auditioned probably, I would say about probably at least 500 actresses for this part from all over the world. The minute I saw Jordan Alexander’s tape, I stopped. I was sitting there with my husband and I just grabbed his arm and I was like, it’s her, it’s her, it’s her. Within the first 30 seconds of watching her in camera, I just knew.
LRM Online: I really enjoyed her character. I mean, yes, you nailed it. She’s like a tough cookie, but yet she’s sensitive. She transmits that and she, gosh, putting her through those roller coaster of feelings. She did pretty great.
Tucker: It’s incredible that she’s done almost no acting and she held her own so fiercely next to Juliette Lewis. It’s a remarkable performance. I really hope everybody gets to see it because I have a feeling people are going to be talking about Jordan Alexander for years to come. I’m just really proud that we were able to give her, her first shot
LRM Online: Of course, and look who gets to discover her. What better than you?
Tucker: Well, she has to do all the work.
LRM Online: Right, right, right. Is there anything you can by any chance share that you may be like working on or have coming up in the works?
Tucker: Right now, we just launched the second series. It’s the beginning of that. I’m really giving so much of my attention to Sacred Lies at the moment because a huge part of what makes our show on Facebook Watch different than anywhere else is that we have something called the community, which is a Facebook group that is full of die hard fans of the show. They’re called the Keepers. They spend a tremendous amount of time sort of sharing their insights and feelings and et cetera and participating even in the making of the show, they were really involved in. We involved them in naming characters and picking the location where the second season took places. So anyway, there is incredibly active group and I am super active with them. I’m on there at the moment, like every day talking to them, half the day, it’s really interacting with the fan base. So are some of the other actors, Jordan Alexander is on there all the time. Siobhan Williams, who plays one of the Cherry Falls sisters. So, a lot of the casts and myself were really participating with our fan base and that’s what I’m focused on.
I have other shows in development, but those things are not at a place where they are public knowledge yet. So, you’re just going to wait and find out.
LRM Online: Okay, we’ll definitely wait. Just to finalize, I did want to kind of just cover this. What do you hope some of the viewers will take out of Sacred Lies because you do cover more on the sensitive personal topic, the fostering system. You know, maybe open conversation on this too, I imagine.
Tucker: Absolutely. I think it’s one of the great opportunities and privileges of being able to tell stories is to talk about things that are meaningful or give characters a focus that you don’t normally ever get to see on television. So at the center of a show, right? So by making Elsie a foster youth, we did a change amount of research. We talked to lots of people, who both work in the foster care system but also who had gone through the foster care system. It’s trouble. It needs our attention. There are so many people in Elsie’s position who really need people to step up and open up their hearts and, and help kids who sometimes go through 20 to 30 homes by the time they’re done with the system. I hope it inspires some people to really get involved and to learn about how they can help because there’s just tremendous need. So, that’s a part of what I hope that the people take from the show.
The bigger message at the center of the show is about connection. It’s about finding your family because many people in our world are not born into families that give them everything that they need or a safe environment. They have to go out into the world and find people to be their family. The lesson at the center of the show and what every one of the main characters is going through is this search for their true family. The people that loves them, the people that will love them for who they are. By the end, that’s the arc of the series. It becomes a series about no matter how dark or bleak or grim the world may be, there’s a way to survive that and find the light at the end of the tunnel and find your true family.
LRM Online: Well, that is an awesome, perfect way to close this interview with those words. Thank you so much for your time.
Tucker: Thank you.
Sacred Lies: The Singing Bones airs on Facebook Watch!
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