The Drama Club: Stars Reveal The Truth About ‘Pretty Little Liars’

Pretty Little Liars‘ (ABC Family, premiering June 8th)  will be this summer’s best guilty pleasure.  The premise is that four teenage friends drift apart after the queen bee of their clique, Allison, disappears.  They reunite when they start getting text messages that seem to be from Allison, threatening to reveal their deep dark secrets.  It’s ‘Gossip Girl‘ meets ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer.’  The hot cast includes Laura Leighton (‘Melrose Place‘) and Holly Marie Combs (‘Charmed‘) as parents with plenty to hide themselves.  The girls are played by Lucy Hale (‘Privileged’),  Ashley Benson (‘Eastwick‘),  Shay Mitchell and Troian Bellasario.  The cast provided a primer on the series at a press junket on the set.

Get to Know Your Pretty Little Liars

Hannah (Ashley Benson): “Hannah is the new it girl in school.  She is full of sarcasm.  She’s kind of adventurous.  She likes to risk things because she wants to get attention so she shoplifts.  I think she does it to get attention from her dad because he’s not really around and to show people that she’s cool.  But when she was younger she was heavier and kind of a loser.  So she’s transformed herself to be like Allie, who was the girl who disappeared a year ago.”

Aria (Lucy Hale): “When the pilot picks up, Aria was away in Iceland.  It’s because her dad was having an affair and he wants to escape it and start over.  So he takes the whole family.  I’ve been there for a year and sort of blossom and find myself.   I come back and get thrown back in to this Allison world.  But I definitely am a new person when I get back from Iceland.”

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Spencer (Troian Bellasario): “Spencer is a very, very smart and perfectionist kind of Type A person.  She wants to be the best at everything. Her family puts a lot of pressure on her to do that.   She’s also very funny.  She’s got a dry, sarcastic sense of humor which I also have so I love that.”

Emily (Shay Mitchell): “She is the good girl.  She’s a very sweet, wouldn’t hurt a fly type of girl, extremely loyal to all the girls in the group.  I’m the peacemaker, wants everything to be good for everyone.”

Ashley (Laura Leighton): “Ashley is the single mother of Hannah.  She’s very interested in maintaining the appearance of everything being okay in her family and in her life.  She’s a busy working mom and at the same time she’s struggling to make appropriate parenting choices and protect her daughter when her daughter gets into a bit of trouble.  Ashley makes some choices that aren’t always the best choices.”

They Are Only As Sick As Their Secrets

Hannah: “One of the big things is shoplifting.  There’s stuff that goes on in the first episode with my mom and me that threatens to get out which ruins everything.  Also Hannah has an eating disorder because she wants to stay thin.  Nobody knows that except for Allison.  There’s a lot of secrets and a lot that’s threatened to be revealed that are going to shock the audience.” -Benson

Ashley: “In the pilot, Hannah shoplifts.  That’s the first transgression Ashley’s forced to cover up.   The way that she chooses to do that is her desperate attempt to make sure that nobody finds out and that her daughter’s name is cleared.” -Leighton

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Aria: “I’ve had the weight on my shoulders of knowing this secret [of my dad’s affair] and keeping it from my mom who I adore forever and finally my mom finds out.  It sort of tears apart my family.  I’m trying to protect my little brother.  I’m trying to protect my mom, even trying to protect my dad because I love him them all.” – Hale

Spencer: “Spencer has an intense competition with her sister which is also why falling in love with her fiance is also terrible because then they’re both competing for him.  She also had an intense competition with Allison.  One of the competitions they had was who could get the most boys. One of the boys that they were fighting over was Spencer’s sister’s other boyfriend when they were in high school.  Spencer actually ended up kissing him.  Allison held it over her head and tortured her with threatening to tell Melissa.  She’s dealing with the fact that she’s in the same sort of situation and someone’s threatening to expose the past and now.” -Bellasario

Emily: “Along with everything else a teen has to figure out, she’s just exploring different things.  She doesn’t know exactly what her feelings are telling her.  So along with growing up and going through all of that, she is exploring her sexuality, coming to terms with does she like girls, or does she like boys?  Is this normal? I don’t feel like she has somebody to express all this to, so it makes it a lot harder. Her secret is her feelings.  She doesn’t want anybody to label her as, ‘You’re a lesbian,’ or, ‘You don’t know what you like.’  It’s more hiding the fact that she may have feelings for Maya.  She doesn’t want someone to out her before she’s even fully aware of what that is.” – Mitchell

Their Scandalous Romances

Aria is hot for her teacher. “She meets this great guy at a restaurant.  They hit it off, everything goes well, and then I go to school the next day and I look up and he’s my English teacher.  Throughout the series, it’s about us trying to make it work and him being like no, we can’t do this, it’s wrong. But they sort of have a strong connection and they can’t stay away from each other.  We know it’s so wrong and it can’t happen but I think he’s really special.” -Hale

Adds the hot teacher, Ian Harding (Ezra), “It’s a high stakes relationship that I find myself in, mildly on the illegal side.  Or is it?  We don’t know.  It’s very exciting.  She’s an amazing girl.  The rough part of it is that she’s my student… Maybe he should reference Lolita, find out what happens at the end.”

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Spencer is after her sister’s fiancee. “She’s under pressure all the time from her family.  Nobody ever asks her, “Are you happy doing this?  Do you want to be on every sports team and try to get straight A’s and get into all these colleges?” They just want her to be perfect on paper.  She meets her sister’s fiance and she has the same sort of inappropriate sense of humor she does and he says, “I like you for who you are and whatever you want to do is cool with me.  In fact I find it really fascinating.”  She can’t help but fall for him, and that’s not something you should do with your sister’s fiancee.” – Bellisario

Emily has a crush on her female neighbor Maya, the world’s oldest high school student. (She’s played by Bianca Lawson AKA Emily on ‘Vampire Diaries,’ who played a teenager on ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ back in the 1990s. ) “She is meeting somebody who she is very comfortable with.  This is a new person.  She doesn’t know who Emily was before. There might be some weirdness about her moving into Allison’s new house, but it’s just another girl that she genuinely cares for, maybe as more than a friend.  That’s what she’s trying to figure out.”- Mitchell

The Lingering Impact of Allison

Hannah: [Hannah] definitely became the new Allison which is what she wanted forever.  She always admired and wanted to be just like her and she just wasn’t.  Now that Allie’s out of the picture she’s taken that opportunity. – Benson

Aria: “When she goes missing, we know that something’s not right.  We know that this is going to be a long haul, that this is going to take a while.  For each of the girls,it just changes their lives and they’re trying to find ways to deal with it.  It’s a never ending thing, like, wow another text message from this A person.  It just keeps getting crazier and crazier.”- Hale

Ezra: “Without getting too specific, there is some interaction.  He discovers something.  There’s some misunderstanding that leads to more drama and heartache and danger.”- Harding

Emily: “She was extremely loyal.  They called her the pit bull.  She’d always defend her.  She loved her as a friend and maybe a little bit more.” – Mitchell

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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