This past Tuesday, ABC Family’s teen sensation, Pretty Little Liars, had its season two premiere. The episode picked up right where the show left off in March, leaving a lot of drama for all of the liars. At the heart of it all was Spencer (Troian Bellisario) who’s pregnant sister’s fiance, Ian, nearly killed her. Oh, and he may or may not be dead.
Today, Troian Bellisario spoke to the press about her character, the upcoming season, her secret rock star aspirations and of course about the elusive, A.
Last episode we found out that Ian might still be alive, how does that change the dynamic between Spencer and Melissa?
Troian: It’s a huge change. I totally understand where Melissa is coming from; this is the father of her child, the man that she saw herself being connected to for the rest of her life. And [now there’s] the possibility that he could have killed somebody in the past and could have potentially killed her sister…there is almost the safety and finality of him being dead. If he is alive, she now has the opportunity of believing Spencer and absolving him, believing Spencer and getting away from him, or destroying her relationship with her sister and leaving with a murderer. Her allegiance is with this man. It makes things a lot more complicated. It only makes things more twisted.
We’ve certainly seen an evolution from Spencer’s character from season one with her family, friends (the liars) and, of course, Toby. Can you talk about the evolution of Spencer through those three aspects?
Troian: It’s difficult for me to speak about her evolution because I’m so deep in it. I think Spencer’s biggest evolution is being able to let go. She learned how to get her friends back and how to be supportive. The family that she’s grown up with has a very strong sense of what is right and what is wrong and she thinks that she can control other people…I still think she has a long way to go in terms of being judgmental of other people, and I think her biggest lesson in that is her relationship with Toby. He was their mortal enemy, and now there’s nobody she holds closer than her friends and Toby.
A is kind of like a super villain on the show. What would you say are Spencer’s superpowers?
Troian: Spencer has a whip smart intellect. It is both her superpower and her kryptonite. She is able to be ahead of A at certain points and come up with plans to trap or trick A. She has this incredible mind to get the girls as close as they can possibly getting to discovering who A is or discovering how to protect themselves at the last minute. Also it is her greatest weakness, because her mind works so fast sometimes she doesn’t take a moment to think and determine the difference between A’s red herrings and A’s actual moves. And so, just as often as Spencer is right about something she also grabs something that A gives her and runs with it and it’s hugely wrong. It’s what she did with Toby. She said, “This is the guy, this is who killed Alison, we need proof”, and it got them into nothing but trouble and she had to come around and accept that she was completely wrong.
Do you know who A is? Or is that being kept secret from the cast?
Troian: I feel like I could answer this question a million times, and nobody would ever believe me. They will not tell us who it is. To be honest, I don’t even think they know who it is. And I don’t mean that they don’t have a few choices, but they are keeping their options as open as possible. Maybe Marlene, executive producer and creator of the show, has a hard fast choice and she’s now working towards that, but I remember there was a time in the writers room where they told me they had six different options for people that could be A.
When you’re reading the script do you find yourself getting surprised about what’s happening? Do you have OMG moments about what’s going on in the show?
Troian: Absolutely. I mean I’ve spent over two years with Spencer, so when something happens to her it’s very close to my heart. Even when something happens to the other girls, I love being surprised. The great thing about the show is that I’m guaranteed one of those “oh my gosh” moments when I’m alone reading the script all the time. That’s why we’re always so excited and so antsy to get the scripts.
Spencer has been in many life-threatening experiences. How do you, as an actress, mentally prepare for these scenes?
Troian: It’s really hard because we’re always having our lives threatened. If the things that are happening to the girls were happening to me I would ask my parents to commit me to a mental institution and leave me there for my own safety. But, you can’t play that all the time. There are moments when A threatens the girls and it’s just a nuisance, and there are moments when A threatens the girls and it throws Spencer into a rage. As human beings we don’t ever have one reaction, so I think it’s determining where we are in the story, what was the last time A tried to get under our skin, what are the stakes at this present moment, and really connecting to all of those things to determine: Is this truly a scary moment? Is this a moment where I completely lose my self-composure? Or is this a moment where we’re all four of us in the jungle and we’re all scared and if I go to pieces everybody else goes to pieces but Spencer has to be stronger.
How are you personally different than or similar to Spencer?
Troian: Spencer and I are very similar in that when I was Spencer’s age I was very studious, I was the valedictorian of my class and my academics meant everything to me. My family put a lot of pressure on me to do well, but it was also mostly coming from myself. I felt that I had to be the best and the brightest at everything, otherwise I wasn’t worth anything. I think Spencer definitely feels that and that’s something that I’ve had to grow out of. I’ve only grown out of it with age and life experiences. And Spencer hasn’t had those experiences yet; she is in the middle of trying to be perfect in every way. I would say that’s the biggest similarity and difference between Spencer and me. I hope one day Spencer will go through the life rocking experiences that I had that make you get off your own back a little bit and realize what is really important.
The show is known for its fashion and style. Have you been able to keep anything you wear on the show?
Troian: No, everybody always says, “Oh my god, you must have such great clothes.” No, I go home in my pajamas everyday. We, unfortunately, are not allowed to keep anything….I will say, we do have awesome outfits coming up. The clothes are adorable and really insane.
Spencer has a very defined sense of style. What’s an outfit we’ll never see her wear?
Troian: Maybe a giant clown suit. It’s hard because I feel like Spencer can go so many different ways. She can traipse into Aria’s closet and be a bad girl for a day. She can go into Hanna’s closet…well, probably less into Hanna’s closet. Sometimes she’s more casual like Emily. She can go very prim and proper, or be wearing sweats after field hockey and be the same girl. It’s not really her style that defines her; Spencer defines her style all the time.
I love your name. Is there a story behind how your parents came up with it?
Troian: It’s an old family name. It means woman of Troy. I’m fortunate enough that in a family full of Michaels and Nicks and Davids, I got a pretty epic historical name.
Does your family have a nickname for you?
Troian: Everything. People call me T, one of my friends calls me T-Rizzle. Anything with a T. T-Bones, T-Bird, T-Rex.
When you’re not filming your own show, what other shows do you watch?
Troian: I haven’t had cable for the past five years, I really never watch TV. The only show I really got into was Six Feet Under in college and that became my obsession. I’m trying to keep up with Games of Thrones. That’s really the only show I keep up with. If I have time I want to see a movie, because I like that containment.
Who are your favorite musicians?
Troian: My favorites are probably Bright Eyes, Elliot Smith, Arcade Fire and The White Stripes. I think that Jack White, especially on the guitar, is a god.
If you couldn’t act, what profession would you be in?
Troian: In a fantasy world I’d be a rock star. I mean, who doesn’t want to be a rock star? But when I was younger, I was fascinated by forensic scientists and morticians. I was drawn to work with the dead in some sense, so maybe I’ll go back to that.
If you could give Spencer one piece of advice, what would it be?
Troian: Chill out. Seriously, take a chill pill. Life is too short. You need to spend one night going to the movies instead of sneaking around Alison’s house and trying to find Ian. Maybe try to find time to do your homework. I don’t know how Spencer maintains good grades, and literally never does her homework.
(Image courtesy of ABC Family)