Annalisa Cochrane is a talented star on the rise. Discovering her passion for acting at just nine years old, Cochrane landed a variety of highly-praised roles prior to her latest work, the streaming hit One Of Us is Lying on Peacock. A thrilling and unpredictable story based upon Karen M. McManus’s highly acclaimed novel, Cochrane steps into the complex and multilayered character Addy. Schön! spoke with Cochrane about her childhood, career and of course, One Of Us is Lying.
Let’s begin with the start of your career. When did you realise that you had a passion for acting? Was there an epiphany moment?
Acting and performing has been a part of my life since I was very young, but I remember the concrete moment of deciding it would be my career — at the very grown-up age of nine, mind you. It was 2005 and Andrew Adamson’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe had just come out. I was a voracious reader and had always felt an affinity to the book and the adventurous youngest character. When the movie came out — and I watched another person play the character I was meant to — I got a hold of everything I could to understand the filmmaking process. My parents gifted me a ‘making of’ book, and a few days before my tenth birthday, I made the commitment to pursue acting — marked by a drawing and written promise.
You spent 10 years of your adolescence in India. Did Bollywood play a part within your decision to pursue acting? If not, how did living in India shape you as the person you are today?
While Bollywood was, at one point, a discussion in my pursuit of acting, my parents prized education above all and chose to keep me focussed in school. However, Bollywood’s proximity and, more generally, India’s culture helped shape my desire to act as well as who I am. It’s a beautifully vibrant country with an eternally optimistic culture. People there are philosophical and laid-back, but have a strength and grit, which I notice in myself and my pursuit of things. India also has a history of oral tradition, culture and performance, which gave me freedom to engage in deep conversation, perform, and live my choice of self expression. I’m forever grateful for the wonderful childhood I led there.
Let’s talk about your recent work, One of Us Is Lying. Upon reading the novel, what was your first impression about the storyline and your character Addy?
My first impression was one of curiosity. I had heard of the book, but had no concept or idea of where this character was going. On the surface, she seemed to be similar to many roles I’ve played, but she had something deeper. The more I read, the more fascinated I became with understanding her. Of course I jumped to the book right away, and couldn’t help but be taken in by Addy’s attempt at being perfect, hiding her insecurities, and repressing her true self in order to fit in. Our high school experiences were different, but there were so many elements she was dealing with that I recognised in my inner psyche. I remember finishing that first audition and crying as I walked back to the car, because I had such an intense desire to bring her to life.
You played a similar high school ‘prom queen’ role in Cobra Kai. Has this previous experience aided you in embodying the ‘high school princess role’ of Addy? How did you seek to differentiate your portrayal of each character?
I actually felt quite different about Addy versus Yasmine from Cobra Kai. While they both seem to have similar paths on the surface, their economic backgrounds, their families, their friendships and more differed significantly enough that I felt I could bring something else. In creating the role of Addy, it was a good reminder that no matter what, we never know someone’s full story and what makes them the way they are. I felt that their internal monologues were very different and therefore, required different physicalities or voice pitches.
One of Us Is Lying deals with important teenage issues such as: cyber-bullying, parental issues and drug misuse. What message do you hope to convey to teens through the series?
I hope everyone can take away the importance of being yourself, of standing up for what’s right, and of not believing everything you hear or see on the Internet.
As we discussed, Addy is an extremely complex character. Do you see aspects of yourself within her character? How so?
Addy is trying to hold everything together so intensely that she’s actually widening the cracks in her perfect life. In many ways, I relate. I can be a perfectionist, and sometimes when I can’t be perfect (and you never can, perfection is a myth), I hide or I run away. And in that sense, there was so much to learn from Addy. The way that she doesn’t back down even when the world is against her, is admirable. More than that, I saw parallels in many of her insecurities. Shooting this show and being on camera everyday can give anyone a bit of a mental crisis, but watching Addy’s strength inspired me to find my own, to overcome those feelings of inadequacy and that imposter syndrome.
The filming of the series took place during the pandemic. What challenges did you face during the shooting, and how were you able to overcome them?
The biggest challenge would have been the waiting that accompanied these two years since we shot the pilot. We thought we were weeks away from hearing about shooting our first season when the world shut down. It was quite a long year of uncertainty and loss for us all, but when we finally were able to go into production over a year later it felt like a dream. To be able to work in New Zealand, free of COVID for a time, was everything. We weren’t completely in the clear, however. With three days of shooting left, New Zealand went into a hard lockdown for some community cases. After two weeks, we flew back to the US and eventually Canada to finish shooting our last three days. Definitely a whirlwind.
You have incredible chemistry with your cast members. What was your favourite memory from being on set?
Favourite memory on set was working with the other Bayview Four in the abandoned cinema. That day there were incredible moments of solidarity between the four of us as well as a Wim Hoff session, and of course some limbo and dance energy breaks. Love you BV4. Look out for some lil’ tattoos come season two, fingers crossed!
After such a long wait from pilot to production and now release, what scene were you most excited for viewers to see?
My haircut scene felt so empowering as both Addy and Annalisa. As women, we often feel our femininity is tied to our hair, and it was freeing to get rid of it (at least while shooting). Other than that, I have to say my knife scene with Jessica McLeod would be a standout moment.
As Annalisa, what advice would you give your character Addy?
If you watched the last episode, this girl is proving to be much stronger than even me. I would remind her, however, of the people that gave you the freedom to be yourself. And to just remember how important it is to stay true to what you know.
The four teens in One of Us Is Lying certainly have an unorthodox high school experience. How was your personal high school experience?
My experience had its ups and downs, but I found this wonderful group of friends who helped cultivate my sense of adventure — similar to the BV4. We did our fair share of sneaking into abandoned places and generally getting up to mischief.
If there’s a season two, what themes or character developments do you hope Addy explores?
I’d love to see her continue to work on personal development away from her norm. Her marginalisation in the first season is what allowed for her empowerment, and I’d love to see her continue along this path. However, I also think she has beautiful budding relationships and watching her navigate those would be a joy.
Besides acting, what’s been keeping you busy these days? Any hobbies or activities to share?
I feel quite lucky that I’ve been able to continue travelling since returning from shooting. With the encouragement of new environments, I’m focussing on this growth mindset. Specifically delving deeper into some writing projects, some videography, some bad drawing, chess, cryptocurrency, and just general learning and knowledge.
What else can we expect from you in the future?
Stay tuned. Many things to come!
One Of Us is Lying is currently streaming on Peacock.
photography. Sheen Wang
fashion. Carlee Wallace @ Art Department
talent. Annalisa Cochrane
hair.Ryan Richman @ A-Frame Agency
make up. Lilly Keys @ A-Frame Agency
fashion assistant. Nina Martinez
photography assistants. Brandon Chheng + Priscilla Coronado
words. Faseeha Khalid