From left to right, actors Lex Lumpkin, Henry Joseph Samiri, Aliyah Royale, Warren Christie, Mariel Molino, Jon Ecker, Amy Acker, and Kelly Bishop pose in a promotional photo for Freeform’s The Watchful Eye. No one is smiling. They are standing in a dimly lit room with ornate wallpaper and portraits hanging on the walls.

The Watchful Eye Cast Shares Behind-the-Scenes Secrets

By Zach Johnson

Freeform’s The Watchful Eye is proof that looks can be deceiving.

The new psychological thriller from Ryan Seacrest Productions follows Elena (Mariel Molino), a young woman with a complicated past. Matthew (Warren Christie) hires Elena as live-in nanny for his son (Henry Joseph Samiri), drawing her into a new social stratosphere. At The Greybourne, a landmark Manhattan apartment building, Elena discovers everyone in the enigmatic building has deadly secrets and ulterior motives. What they don’t know, however, is that Elena has some shocking secrets of her own...

“There is a very empowered female at the center of this story who’s got an axe to grind,” Molino teases, praising the series’ “suspense, eeriness, and cinematic aspect.” Indeed, The Watchful Eye is designed as an intricate puzzle—one audiences will get closer to solving each week. “It’s not just a whodunit,” executive producer Emily Fox explains. “All the different pieces need to be assembled over the course of the series.”

In a scene from The Watchful Eye, Mariel Molino is in a dark room. She is holding a piece of paper and reading a message. She has long brown hair and is wearing a striped tank top, layered necklaces, multiple rings, and natural makeup.

The Greybourne is full of intrigue, from the complex politics among its wealthy inhabitants to its history which is riddled with mystery and tragedy. “There’s just something really sort of compelling about the idea of an apartment building and the fact that it contains so many stories and all these people are so close to one another,” Fox says. “There’s privacy, and yet, there’s this community inside of the walls of the building.”

“Of course, the building is gorgeous,” Fox continues. “It’s familiar, but it’s our version of a castle. And the palace intrigue is what’s so fun to play with... Every apartment building has its own personality and its own literal and figurative secret passageways. I think it’ll be fun for everybody to get to see how The Greybourne lives and breathes.”

Rounding out the cast of The Watchful Eye are Kelly Bishop as Mrs. Ivey, a lifelong resident of The Greybourne who is accustomed to getting her way; Amy Acker as Tory, a woman who instantly dislikes her brother-in-law’s new nanny; Jon Ecker as Scott, Elena’s cunning boyfriend who helped arrange for her to get a job at The Greybourne; Lex Lumpkin as Elliott, a precocious teenager who lives in The Greybourne and strikes up an instant friendship with Elena; and Aliyah Royale as Ginny, who works alongside Elena as a nanny and is one of the few people who can get past her tough outer shell.

In a scene from The Watchful Eye, actor Mariel Molino sits on a green sofa. She is wearing a white shirt, layered necklaces, a red cardigan, black capri pants, and black shoes. Her hands are clasped in her lap, and her brown leather bag is by her side. Amy Acker is seated on the opposite side of the couch. The blond actress is wearing a long-sleeved white shirt with ruffle details and coral pants. Her hands are clasped and placed on a red clipboard on her lap, and she is looking at Molina. Actor Warren Christie sits opposite the two women on a green chair. His back is to the camera, and he is wearing blue jeans and a black shirt. The luxury apartment is decorated with a geometric coffee table, a painting on the walls, two lamps, and more.

So... who knows Elena best? That depends on who’s asking. “I think Tory sees her as a threat,” Acker says. “She wants to have a stronghold on the family, on the apartment building, on everything. Elena doesn’t always play by Tory’s rules and isn’t afraid to stand up to her, and so it causes a little bit of stress and anxiety in Tory’s realm. She’s probably taking a few more meds because Elena is in the building!” And while Elena and Ginny have an instant “connection” and begin to develop “a beautiful friendship,” Royale cautions: “We all have friendships that we have to reevaluate at some point.”

According to Christie, The Watchful Eye wouldn’t work without Molino’s performance. “She’s the eyes of the audience, right? She’s bringing everyone into this world of the uber-rich, and then she has to toe the line between the haves and have nots,” he says. “She’s the one who is bringing the audience along, and she does this incredibly beautiful job with it to make sure they see the divide between these different people.”

The Watchful Eye premieres Monday, January 30, with two episodes at 9 p.m. ET/PT before moving to its regular timeslot on Mondays at 10 p.m. ET/PT, only on Freeform.