The "Pieces of Her" Cast Talk BTS Pranks and a Surprise Easter Egg

How well can you really know someone? Netflix's "Pieces of Her" tells the story of a mother named Laura Oliver (Toni Collette), whose dark secrets come to light after a freak series of violent crimes forces her daughter, Andy (Bella Heathcote), into hiding. Desperate for answers, Andy digs deeper into Laura's previous life, uncovering lies about her father — and herself — that threaten to unravel everything she ever thought was true.

A suspenseful adaptation of Karin Slaughter's thriller novel of the same name, "Pieces of Her" challenges the idea that the version you know of a person is the only one that exists. Through Laura and Andy's strained mother-daughter relationship, we get an extreme taste of what could be lurking on the other side if we dare to dig deep enough — and find out about a decades-old unsolved murder along the way.

If your wind-down TV shows are typically packed with betrayal, heartache, and haunting flashbacks, keep reading to find out what Collette and Heathcote told POPSUGAR about the show ahead of its March 4 premiere. (Hint: the behind-the-scenes pranks were hilarious, and there's a hidden Easter egg you'll want to keep your eyes peeled for in every episode.)


POPSUGAR: What drew you to your respective roles?

Bella Heathcote: I found the story incredibly gripping. I loved both Laura and Andy's arcs and their fundamental drive — Laura's was to protect her daughter, and Andy's was to uncover the truth — and the tension that arises because of the clash of those two motivations.

Toni Collette: I love this story as a whole, not just my role. I really love that my character is trying to break this inherited generational trauma by controlling her daughter's life. But actually, she's setting her daughter up for more of it. So I always find that stuff really interesting. And I think that the character of Andy is forced into a kind of situation where she has to step up and really be brave. Actually, she's the one who may potentially break the cycle of all these secrets and horrid behaviors.

PS: Did you read the Karin Slaughter book that inspired the show?

BH: I did. We were both told not to, and I disobeyed the order — only because the show, pretty early on, departs hugely from where the book leads to. So I read it when I was still in the audition process because I was desperate to know what happened and I only had access to one script, but I never referred to it after that point.

TC: I rarely look at source material because, ultimately, I'm married to the script, and that's what I've got to rely on.

PS: What was your favorite moment on set?

BH: Pranking Jacob Scipio. Jacob is a delight, and I really feel for him, because he'd have like one day on and 30 days off. He was there for the run of the show but probably shot the most sporadically throughout the whole period. . . . But he would refer to his legs or his lips as his "puppies," so we called them puppies. And one day — he's going to hate me — we swapped out his lip balm for a lip scrub and just watching him put this stuff on his lips. Watching his expression change and try and figure out what was wrong — that was probably my favorite moment.


PS: What was the most difficult scene to film?

BH: The first scene I shot with Toni was when we were reunited [in the first episode] — the second diner scene, if you will. That was a lot, because I was so nervous to work with Toni for the first time. Toni has spoken about this a bit in interviews, about how exhausting it is when you're trying to hold something back that you unconsciously want to feel . . . the stakes are high all the time, and how do you find the nuance in that?

PS: Did filming so many intense scenes take a toll on you?

BH: It's the only time I've ever had a year to prepare for a role, because we were about to [film] and the the turnaround between casting and shooting was really quick. It was like, "Brush up on dialect, break down the scripts, let's go." Then we had a year's hiatus because of COVID, and if anything, I feel like I was trying not to overprepare. I did about six months of drawing classes . . . because I was like, "If I keep looking at these scripts, I'm going to drive myself crazy and lose any kind of spontaneity."

TC: Yep, it did. When I'm working on stuff that I know is going to be intense, I just pretend it's not happening, and I let moments creep up on me. The only real preparation I did was learn how to play that [Johann Sebastian] Bach piece [in the final episode], which was very intense. I had two weeks to learn it by memory, and I don't play piano. That was petrifying. I thought it was going to be smooth sailing, but every scene was bigger and more intense than I thought it was going to be.


PS: Are there any Easter eggs fans should look out for?

BH: Karin Slaughter is in the show. There's a moment where I cross paths with her.

PS: What was it like portraying a mother-daughter relationship on screen?

BH: I loved it. My mum passed away when I was little. She passed away very much at a time where she was still on that pedestal before the "healthy disconnection" [between a mother and daughter] comes, so just to experience that [relationship] in the flashback scenes between us and even just experiencing the peanut-butter spoon in the dishwasher, flipping it around — those moments felt bizarrely kind of special to me. It really actually deepened my connection with my dad and made me have even more empathy and sympathy for what he went through as a single parent trying to protect his kid in an impossible circumstance.

TC: It's a really complicated relationship. It isn't a run-of-the-mill, "let's bake cookies together" situation, so it was quite pleasurable to have something so complicated and ever-changing to play with. . . . So much of [their relationship] is miscommunication and a bit of resentment, disappointment, disenchantment, a lot of negatives. They're swimming in the unknown. It's a bit muddy, and until it's clearer they're not going to have a real connection. So watching that change and playing with all of those moments was a true joy.