Even the best of friends wrestle with their consciences to keep a secret. We have seen it in Desperate Housewives, in the I Know What You Did Last Summer movies and in Gossip Girl. And now Pretty Little Liars, which is based on Sara Shepard’s series of novels, continues to flourish in the second season of that tried and trusted formula. Debashine Thangevelo gets the perspective of its four über-sexy female leads and sees whether they will budge and reveal the identity of ‘A’…
Role: Spencer Hastings – Ms Preppy in the group.
WITH a few credits to her name, Bellisario made waves when she was cast as a principal character in Pretty Little Liars.
Her character is known for being a perfectionist, but she is also gutsy and speaks her mind. She was dating Jenna’s stepbrother until the threat posed by “A” saw her break things off to protect him.
Shedding light on the character, she says, “Spencer and I have a lot of things in common. We’re very type A, have a lot of anxiety and I’m highly logical and left-brained. But I think the biggest difference between Spencer and I, and it’s why I love her so much, is she has so much growing up to do in terms of finding out what she really wants and how to vocalise that. I think she, right now, is kind of under a lot of pressure from her family and from society and what she thinks she’s supposed to be doing or wanting.”
Offering her take on the tone of the series, Bellisario says, “I would say it’s like if you took Twin Peaks and injected it with bubblegum and threw in a couple of Mean Girls. It’s like it’s really weird, dark and quirky… and then it’s really hilarious, and in other moments it’s just eye-candy – a lot of it – and it’s really fun.”
The second instalment picks up with Ian Thomas (Ryan Merriman), Spencer’s brother-in-law, who was supposedly killed at the top of the bell tower. There was suspicion of him being behind the murder of Alison DiLaurentis, the clique leader.
In the face of that aftermath, the actress, 26, says, “A lot has been going on for Spencer, especially when we came back and found her in the second half of the first season. Viewers are going to find out a lot about the mystery of Alison’s disappearance and all of that is through Spencer’s storyline. A lot of the girls are getting involved in relationships, and they’re finding love. That comes later for Spencer.”
Role: Aria Montgomery – known as the “weird” girl, with serious daddy issues. And she is crushing majorly on her English teacher, Ezra Fitz.
REMEMBER her from Bionic Woman? She played Becca Sommers, the younger sister of the lead character, in the remake.
At 22, Hale has amassed an interesting array of film/TV credits: Drake & Josh, The OC, American Family, How I Met Your Mother, Wizards of Waverly Place, The Apostles, The Sisterhood of Travelling Pants 2, Fear Island, Sorority Wars, Scream 4, Private Practice and CSI: Miami. For a newbie in the industry, it’s not a bad footing in Hollywood.
Although she has given Aria an interesting take, Hale admits that she has much to learn about her character.
“When the series first started, she’d just come back from Iceland, and so we don’t really know, as well as all the girls, we don’t really know much about their past and their friendship with Alison while she was alive. So I’d really love to see us dig more into the past and like what made them the way they are, why they made the decisions that are ruining their lives now. So it’s going to be interesting,” she offers.
Is there anything about Aria that makes your jaw drop?
“She’s 16 but she’s very, the way she’s written, like a go-getter. I don’t know many 16-year-olds that act the way Aria does, that would be ballsy enough to have a relationship with her teacher. Aside from making bad decisions, all these girls are very mature for their age,” she explains.
On what people like about the show, she says, “I think everybody just loves a good mystery and scandal and bad girls. So we’ve got that going for us. There’s lots of drama. But we also have pushed the limits a bit, especially since it’s a teenage show.”
Given the genre and the overall sexiness of the characters, Hale talks wardrobe. “We have an amazing costume designer, Mandi Line, who is just so good at what she does. She has an eye for each character and makes them distinctive. And what I really love about our show is that I watch shows all the time where I’m like, oh, I love what they’re wearing, and I look it up and it’s, oh, it’s four grand. With our show, it’s very budget friendly. Mandi makes a lot of my outfits. And I think that’s cool for young girls to watch. My wardrobe is a little quirky, a little edgy and sometimes it’s cute.”
This season, Aria learns that Ezra’s ex-fiancée, Jackie Molina, is back in the picture and she isn’t happy about it.
Role: Emily Fields, the jock in the group who was outed as a lesbian by “A”.
THIS Canadian actress and model made her claim to fame with this series. Kudos to her for going against the grain and breathing life into such a challenging character.
Now rumour has it that the identity of the blackmailer “A” will be revealed this season.
Mitchell laughs, “I know. That seems to be quite a popular question. I would love to share it with everybody, but I don’t even know. None of the girls know, I promise you. So it’s a secret for us, too. And I’m kind of happy that the writers don’t tell us. You will definitely find out. When we’ll find out, I’m not sure.”
As to how she gets along with her co-stars, Mitchell says, “It’s hilarious on and off set. I mean, in between takes, we’re laughing. One of us is saying a joke or doing something funny. It’s so much fun and we hang out off set, too.”
Determined to get her character nuances right, Mitchell admits that after she got the part, she stopped and picked up a couple of books on her way home.
“I think I read right through them on the airplane home. The stories are great and the characters are so relatable. I fell in love with the books,” she confides.
What’s the deal with Emily?
“She’s extremely comfortable with who she is now, whereas at the beginning she was still figuring things out. I think she’s come full circle from the pilot.”
In the second season, Emily, while grappling with whether or not she wants to move, becomes the new target of “A”.
Role: Hanna Marin, the Queen Bee at Rosewood Day, who got her heart stomped on by Caleb, a phone hacker, in the first season.
SA viewers will recognise her better as Abigail Deveraux from Days of Our Lives. The gorgeous 22-year-old has left footprints in an array of TV and movie roles too.
She appeared in 13 Going On 30, Bring it On: In It To Win It, Spring Breakers, Seventh Heaven, The OC, Zoey 101, Supernatural and CSI: Miami, among other productions.
Chatting about the fans’ reactions, she smiles, “It’s crazy. Weirdly, I get noticed like everywhere. I think it’s ’cause I’m the blonde one. I don’t know. But they’re always positive, sweet and nice. And what’s really cool is I’ve gotten a lot of guys come up to me, and they watch the show.”
Peeling back the layers of Hanna, she reveals, “Hanna is the fun, sarcastic girl. In the beginning, she transformed herself to the ‘it girl’ because she was heavier and kind of left out all the time. She took the opportunity when Alison disappeared to transform herself into Alison. She felt that she had to put on a show for everybody else and to just act like she’s better than everybody. Now, she’s finally coming into her own. And she’s really comfortable with who she is.”
While she can’t divulge much about the storyline, Benson hints, “Just pay attention to everybody… everybody. And you’ll kind of piece it together.”
She continues, “Tons of secrets are going to be revealed, especially in the season finale. And ‘A’ is going to take us all on a ride, for my character especially. An episode that just aired, I’m doing things to get money because my mom stole it, and then it got stolen from the house. So Hanna, well, she kind of betrays one of the three other girls.”
Looks like the second instalment of Pretty Little Liars has more edge-of-your-seat intrigue… and it isn’t generated by “A” only.
• Pretty Little Liars airs on M-Net Series (DStv Channel 110) on Saturday at 9.30pm.