When most kids try to swipe something while their parents aren’t looking, it’s a cookie or a bar of chocolate.
For Lucy Hale, it was her mom’s nursing books.
“Even as a little kid, I gravitated toward the darker things in life,” said Hale, 32, who stars in the gritty new British crime drama “Ragdoll,” which premieres on AMC+ on Nov. 11. “My mom was in nursing school, and I would steal her nursing books because I wanted to know about diseases and ailments. I was a very strange child.”
Though she’s best known for teen dramas like “Pretty Little Liars” and the short-lived “Riverdale” spinoff, “Katy Keene,” her new venture into the macabre sees her starring as a recently recruited American detective — Lake Edmunds — tasked with tracking down a serial killer in London who sews parts of his victims’ dismembered bodies together into a grotesque creation referred to as “the Ragdoll.” The six-part series is based on Daniel Cole’s 2017 novel.
“I’ve never played a detective,” she said. “But I had written in journals that I had wanted to play a character like this, so it definitely felt natural.”
In a Zoom audio call from her home in Los Angeles earlier this month, Hale shared her admiration for Lucille Ball and “Forensic Files,” and explained why Graceland is her happy place. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.
Everyone always asks me, “Where did you get the bug for performing?” And it goes back to sitting on my grandmother’s living room table. She put on “Grease” for the first time when I was 6 or 7, and I was hypnotized. I’ve probably seen the movie 100 times, and even as an adult, I still enjoy it the way I did when I was a little kid — the music, the chemistry between John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, the hair and the makeup. I heard a rumor that they’re remaking it — I’ll keep an open mind, but it’s so classic.
2. The Pattern App
I first heard about it a couple of years ago when Channing Tatum posted about it on Instagram, and it’s now the most-used app on my phone. You type in the city where you were born, your name, your birth date, your birth year and the time of day. Then it calculates a birth chart for you, which is almost like a personality reading. It’s the most accurate one I’ve ever read. If you’re dating someone new, you can plug in their information and then compare how you guys are similar or different. It also gives you reminders; I checked mine first thing this morning, and it says I identify with being the giver in my relationships, and I derive my self-worth and identity from being the provider. And so today, my reminder is that I need to be sure to check in with myself.
3. The Rose Bowl Flea Market
Imagine the Rose Bowl, but with thousands and thousands and thousands of people with suitcases ready to buy vintage items. It’s incredible. It happens the second Sunday of every month at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, and you have to get there at like 6 or 7 a.m. to find parking. There are hundreds of vendors; they have a clothing section categorized by era, and there’s an amazing vendor who has the most beautiful turquoise jewelry I’ve ever seen. You definitely have to devote a day to it, and you have to be willing to dig and be patient.
4. “Jagged Little Pill” by Alanis Morissette
This was the first album that I bought with my own money. I remember seeing the cover for the first time when I was really young, in vivid red and green and blue with her hair blowing everywhere. I would have been around 7, so I was too young to understand the angst. But I would put her CD in my boombox, and I just loved the tone of her voice — the honesty and the passion.
5. “I Love Lucy” Reruns
There will never be anyone like Lucille Ball. She was big and bold and not afraid to make crazy faces and be physical, be wild and wacky. During that time, that just wasn’t what a lot of women entertainers were doing — she’s truly a comedic genius. And her and Ethel are one of my favorite duos of all time, so much so that I named my puppy for her. So we’re Lucy and Ethel. (I’m actually named after a grandmother of mine.)
This is an African-inspired restaurant in London that was rated one of the top 50 restaurants in the world last year. I know about it is because a friend’s brother, Jeremy [Chan], is the chef. I went there for the first time about a month ago, and it is, without a doubt, the most extraordinary culinary experience of my life. I’m just blown away by how people can think, like, “Oh, this would taste great with this.” For instance, there was a really nice white fish with vanilla bean foam. And another dish with a paste on the side that he said was inspired by Warheads candy. All these out-there flavors, but it all seamlessly works together, and the presentation is truly art.
7. Frances Berry
Frances Berry is this extraordinary painter out of Memphis, where I’m from. A lot of her paintings are these gorgeous female bodies with wacky colors and stripes and different textures. But she also does these cool Pop Art paintings — I have a custom Elvis Presley one here. A lot of her work is very feminist and supportive of women. She does sayings, like “Smokin’ Naked,” and then she has a female form with a cigarette. She’s just very cool — she wears roller skates to do her art in.
My grandmother was a huge Elvis Presley fan, as am I, and you definitely get a feel for the type of person he was walking through this home. There’s a room with like 10 TVs in it because he liked to watch different things at the same time, and there’s the animal room, which is all animal prints — floor, ceiling, furniture. It’s just very ’70s, very tacky in the best way.
9. “Forensic Files”
It was nighttime over 10 years ago, and I’m flicking through the channels, and I hear that creepy intro music — the “Forensic Files” theme song. I love the show because it’s not scripted — it’s purely about how detectives find the people who do horrible things to people. There’s hundreds of episodes, and you can always find “Forensic Files” on any given channel at nighttime. In a weird way, it’s like a comfort show for me.
10. Yosemite National Park
This is the place I go to when I feel like I need a break from everything. It’s five or six hours north of L.A., and for the last couple of years, I’ve taken these solo hiking trips there. You look at these waterfalls, and these mountains, and these cliffs, and it truly looks like a painting.