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Sasha Pieterse says she obsessed over playing troubled twins in 'Image of You'

Nestor Carbonell and Sasha Pieterse star in "The Image of You," opening in theaters and available on digital platforms on Friday. Photo courtesy of Republic Pictures
1 of 4 | Nestor Carbonell and Sasha Pieterse star in "The Image of You," opening in theaters and available on digital platforms on Friday. Photo courtesy of Republic Pictures

NEW YORK, May 10 (UPI) -- Sasha Pieterse says she wanted to play a dual role in The Image of You because the film blends familiar storytelling genres, while keeping viewers on the edge of their seats.

"I read a lot of thrillers and rom-coms, so I just expected it to be one way," the 28-year-old actress told UPI in a recent Zoom interview.

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"I was flipping through the script and liked it and whatever, but I was like, 'I know what's gonna happen here,' and when THAT twist hit and I didn't [know], I loved it."

The Pretty Little Liars and Inherent Vice alum was excited about the project after her initial reading of the screenplay and couldn't stop thinking about it.

"I was in the shower like, 'Oh, I know how I would do that scene...'" she recalled. "I was dreaming about it. It was just one of those things where I felt like I knew exactly what it could be and I wanted to be the one to do it."

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In theaters and on digital platforms Friday, the adaptation of Adele Parks' novel stars Pieterse as Anna and Zoe, troubled twins whose sisterly love is tested by the arrival of Nick (Parker Young), a romantic suitor who seems too good to be true.

Nestor Carbonell and Mira Sorvino play the women's conflicted parents, while Michele Nordin plays Nick's disapproving sister, Rebecca.

"Quite a lot does need to be re-imagined," Parks, an executive producer on the film, said about bringing her original story to the screen.

"A book is a really private dialogue, and if you have an audio book, it's 19 hours long," she added. "We haven't got 19 hours. We've got 90 minutes, so, first of all, a lot of things that are internal need to go off the page, but, somehow, need to stay in the actor's head so that they can be that character."

The ending of the film departs from the one in the book, but Parks doesn't mind seeing plot points change.

"What's intrinsic is the character and, in this case, the 'characters' because they are twins --physically identical, but, in terms of emotions and experiences, very, very different," Parks said.

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"Both are really complex. Anna is sweet and wholesome and naive, and we have Zoe who is sexy and crazy, a little bit crazy, and certainly disruptive," she added. "I didn't want to lose that. I wanted that sort of punch that she delivers, and, luckily, we cast Sasha, who could deliver on both of those fronts."

Pieterse's script was covered in post-it notes intended to help her keep the two characters straight.

"I had it all color coordinated," the actress said.

"It was like this character, this character and the scene together, and it was wild. But I feel like, once we started filming, it was fairly natural. It was hard. You got time crunches and you're flipping back and forth."

For scenes that showed the twins together, a body double was used with Pieterse's performance digitally added to the film later.

"Once we completed that, we switch over, and I become the different character and she would switch over, as well," Pieterse said.

The fact that the characters' hair, makeup and clothing were so dissimilar was also a huge help.

"I could just sit there and watch the transformation, watch the red lips come on," Pieterse said about her preparation to play Zoe.

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"It just felt natural and i never was like, 'OK, who am I?' and, 'What am I?' It just kind of came out. When I turned into Zoe, I was Zoe, and it was very empowering, and a fun contrast," she added. "It's a different perspective of the same scene. You're looking at it completely differently from somebody else's perspective, so I loved it."

Nick almost seems like different men, as well, depending on whom he is with.

"He acted a certain way with Anna, and I think it really worked, and when I became Zoe, I kind of took control," Pieterse said.

"It got that natural reaction," she added.

Some of the scenes they had together were intense and the fact that they had become good friends during production made getting through the darker material easier to navigate.

"Parker's hilarious. We had such a good time on that. We laughed so hard and that's what you need off camera," Pieterse said.

"We have a lot of similarities," she added. "We've both been with our partners for a long time, we're married, we've got kids and I think it just immediately sets the tone."

Parks said the main theme of artifice that runs through her book and movie extends to Nick.

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"He isn't able to be his entire self with either one of them and, so, he also has a duality. The entire book is about people's duality," she added. "Even the parents act differently depending on which daughter they are dealing with."

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