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Interview with Ian Harding of "Pretty Little Liars" on ABC Family 6/28/11.
ABC Familyís Q&A Session with Ian HardingĖ Pretty Little
Moderator Why do you think people love Ezra and Ariaís relationship so
I. Harding I think because itís so right, and like thereís a connection
that is undeniable and kind of once in a lifetime. But I think the
problem is the circumstances; itís that kind of element of forbidden
love that it needs to happen, but oh it canít happen, and so itís them
trying to work it out and trying so hard to just make this love happen.
I think people can really relate to that and really love that.
Moderator How do you view the current status of Ezra and Ariaís
I. Harding Itís always a fluctuating status. The moment that it starts
to kind of hit a plateau of ease and of happiness somebody gets shaken
up A, because itís a TV show, but B, because their lives are very
strenuous; just the student/teacher relationship, even though itís
changed a little bit. It can be difficult, on top of just Aria has stuff
that sheís keeping from Ezra because itís so crazy I think in some ways
she doesnít think heíll believe it. So itís always itís a very material
relationship, to say the least.
Moderator How much does Ezra factor into the games ďAĒ is playing
considering that she, or whoever ďAĒ is, has a spare key to his
I. Harding Well I think ďAĒ is going to be messing with Ezra a little
bit more, and whether or not he knows that I think is going to be up in
the air, because I think itís a little bit more dangerous. As opposed to
like getting him involved and having him aware maybe itís more
dangerous, and probably more fun for ďAĒ to just start putting a wedge
between Aria and Ezra and have Ezra not know about it, like thinking
whatís going on with Aria. But sheís just like oh I have to keep it
together, I need to keep ďAĒ away from Ezra, and it just creates this
wrench, among other things.
Moderator Could you speak a little bit about how things are different
for you to shoot when youíre filming a scene with just you and Lucy
versus you and the whole cast?
I. Harding Lucy and I have a comfort zone thatís otherworldly in the
sense of like we had to take a photograph, I wonít say specifically for
what, but there is something where we just had to be affectionate. And
itís gotten to the point where I remember when we first starting
shooting if we were going to do a make out scene we were literally
brushing our teeth beforehand and flossing and chewing all kinds of gum,
and now weíre lucky if the other person has brushed their teeth at all
prior to a make out scene. So thereís definitely a comfort level there
that is pretty unique. When itís the whole cast itís just very
professional when weíre actually shooting, but in between takes itís
Moderator Has there been any change in the atmosphere on set going into
this highly anticipated second season?
I. Harding Not too much. I think everybody is really excited to be there
and is really gung ho and enthusiastic, and really just works there they
brought off, but I think everybodyís just happy to be there. Itís like a
very relaxed set and judging from people who have done this for a while,
theyíre like kind of the elders, if you will, of the whole production,
they said that this is one of the most relaxed, fun, happy sets to be
on. So I think weíre just continuing on that path for season two.
Moderator I was hoping you could tell us about a time in your own life
when, like Ezra, you were attracted to somebody that you couldnít have
or you shouldnít have.
I. Harding I feel like everybody goes through that in their life, and
definitely there was a moment when I got out here to Los Angeles and I
was newly single and I thought this one person was just amazing, and she
was also an actress. I know that she was kind of in a relationship at
the time and I was like oh no this is so wrong, this is so wrong, and
then once I finally got to know the person I realized that oh it was not
who I thought they were. But yes, I think thatís probably the most or
the worst kind of love obsession that Iíve had recently.
Moderator Do you have a guilty pleasure TV show that you wouldnít mind
telling us about?
I. Harding I havenít watched it recently, but a few months ago I got
into this show, Bully Beat Down, which I just thought was likeósome of
my friends back home said you have to watch this show itís fantastic.
Iím like oh this sounds so stupid, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But
itís basically this bully gets beat up by a professional MMA fighter and
the people that he bullies are sitting there watching it happen, and as
sick as it is you canít really turn away. So that has been my most
recent guilty pleasure.
Moderator What has been your favorite scene or episode to shoot and why?
I. Harding There was one episode recently that I canít really talk
about, because it does give it away just simply by explaining it, thatís
probably my favorite just because it was so much fun to shoot. It was
really loose on set and everybody was having a good time.
The last episode where I left Rosewood High School was a lot of fun to
shoot because it was with all the girls and they would try and distract
me. I would try and distract them, and it was just quite funnyóbecause
it was so like heartfelt and everything we made light of it in between
takes by ridiculing each other.
Moderator Can you talk about if any other girls will have I guess an
impact or a role in the relationship with Ezra and Aria?
I. Harding Well, yes, but thatís all that Iím going to say, because I
think where the writers are going with this one story line is really,
really interesting. So I think that weíre starting to shootówell,
actually no, I wonít say any more. Iíll just say yes and be really
Moderator Ezra obviously reads a lot, and I was wondering if you happen
to read as much as Ezra does and what are your favorite books?
I. Harding I do read a lot. He reads a bunch of random stuff, like all
around his apartment heíll have something like the economy of 1923
England, which I would never read in my life. But I do read quite a bit,
and I just finished a few books. I finished this book called Painters
that was a Pulitzer Prize Winner. Iím going to start reading Just Kids
by Patti Smith sometime soon. Iím all over the place, something that
peaks my interest Iíll read it. And I get up and I have to read every
day, because if not my mind just goes to mush.
Moderator What else do you do when youíre not on set?
I. Harding I try to cook. I have like a bunch of little hobbies, I do
the usual; I read, I hang out with friends, I see movies. I love, love,
love movies, so I do a lot of that. Learning to cook is very
interesting/dangerous, so thatís something that I do most of the time.
But like pick up where I left off in the German language, because at one
point I knew it and now Iíve forgotten it. So I just keep busy in
between shooting and auditions and press junkets, but yes, just kind of
Moderator Did you imagine Pretty Little Liars being as big as it has
I. Harding I knew that it would do well, only becauseówell actually no,
I guess you donít even know that. I knew that it had like a built in fan
base, so the probability of it being a hit was higher than usual, but I
didnít know that it would be this kind of sensation that it is and get
the ratings that it does and be as big as it is abroad. Like when last
summer I was in Europe and I was recognized in every city that I went
to, which is something that I would never expect with this. So itís
pretty surreal, and Iím kind of happy with the level that itís at right
Moderator Do we think that Ezra will get to know who ďAĒ is? Do we think
that Ezra will find out a little bit about ďAĒ from Aria, and who do you
think ďAĒ is?
I. Harding I think heís bound to; I donít think thereís any way that the
show could continue for a whole other season and Ezra is just that in
the dark. I think things will come out and skeletons will come out of
the closet. In terms of who ďAĒ is, I donít know. And people that ask
me, from like my family to my friends to other people, theyíre just like
who do you think it is, and honestly none of us know, and it could be
you show up to work one day and in the script you come to find out that
youíre ďAĒ. So I think thatís whatís so exciting to watch and be a part
of the show.
Moderator If you could give Ezra one piece of advice what would it be?
I. Harding Oh man, oh I would give him the whole book of advice. Can
that be my one piece of advice? Honestly, I would just say follow your
heart, which sounds so clichť. Well it is clichť. But because he over
thinks things and gets really neurotic about things, and as a result
that can sometimes make him act out in weird ways and put unwanted
strain on the relationship. And itís like heís already in it, he already
loves this girl, so just go for it.
Moderator Do you watch the episodes when they come on? Like what do you
find your reactions are to the episode in its entirety?
I. Harding I donít like watching myself, per se, because Iím very
critical of what I do and I just feel like I can see through me. But I
do think showing support to the writers and the other cast members, like
looking at their work and being able to discuss it later or coming in
and saying to a director hey I thought that was really great or wow I
didnít think the scene was going to turn out that way. Especially when
someone is just kind of starting out like me, I think itís important to
watch your work not in a critical or in an overly praisefulóI think I
just made that word up, praiseful kind of way. But just to look at it
for what it is and be able to view your work as kind of an objective
piece of art. I think thatís probably the best thing to do.
Moderator If you were not an actor what would you be doing?
I. Harding Iíd probably be dead. No, I donít know. Psychology and
helping people have always been an interest of sorts, like I love, I
donít want to say therapy, but I love psychology and all that. So maybe
a psychiatrist, but I donít know if I have the patience to keep going in
every day for years on end for somebody to figure out one thing about
themselves. So I donít know what Iíd be doing, probably manual labor.
Moderator How has going to an all boysí school impacted you as a person
I. Harding I absolutely think like almost any stage in life it has its
pros and its cons. It definitely helped me learn and grow as a person
because I wasnít concentrating on girls, especially in high school when
your hormones are raging. I was able to really focus on me and focus on
my education. And then it was just a great point of growth, and then you
move on from it. And then I went into a school that was a performing
arts conservatory, which is the complete opposite. So because they were
opposite ends of the spectrum I was able to kind of see myself in the
middle of that spectrum.
How has it affected me now? I guess I have no idea when it comes down to
it. I think it has affected me for the better, though.
Moderator Do you have any upcoming projects outside of PLL?
I. Harding We shoot clear through to December, and Iíve been auditioning
and doing other things and kind of getting ready for the hiatus and
anything that may come that way. But on the horizon Iím just kind of
auditioning and still putting my face out here in Los Angeles, because
in the grand scheme of things Iím very new; this was like the first
pilot that I auditioned for. So I show up to a casting directorís office
and Iíll be in a room with people that I recognize, like all of them are
young, established actors, and Iím kind of I wouldnít say green, but Iím
simply new. So there are definitely things on the horizon. There have
been a few close calls that have happened these past few months, but
right now Iím just kind of doing the daily grind and loving it.
Moderator How did you feel when you saw that your name and your
characterís name have been trending on Twitter for the last couple
I. Harding Wow. Yes. I had no idea what that meant. My sister told me
that hey youíre trending on Twitter, and I said oh thatís cool, are you
coming over later? It just didnít register with me, and then once I
realized that oh this is something thatís worldwide like wow thatís
really crazy. I felt really blessed. And itís good that I think Twitter
has really affected this show and it has really helped with its
popularity, so if Iím somehow a part of that then great.
Moderator Since the series began whatís been the biggest shocker for
I. Harding I feel like the shock value grows exponentially as the
episodes progress. Iíd love to say well oh when this happened my jaw was
on the floor. Because Iíve gotten into the habit now of weíll get the
scripts a few days in advance prior to shooting it and weíll have a read
through with the entire cast. And Iíll read through my part only, not
just for vanity, I donít really care what anybody else is doing, but
because I actually like hearing what the other cast, like I love seeing
it happen for the first time with the entire cast. And so when that
happens like every read through just my jaw is on the table the entire
time. Itís kind of hard to talk.
Moderator Youíre basically like us as weíre watching it.
I. Harding Yes, yes, yes, yes. So to answer your question, itís each
episode my jaw goes progressively further down to the floor.
Moderator Do you hang out with any of your co-stars off set?
I. Harding I do. Torrey and I, Torrey DeVitto and I have become very
good friends. I see Keegan; Keegan actually literally helped me move
into my new apartment, so I see Keegan fairly regularly.
Moderator During the shooting what has been the most challenging thing
for you as an actor to do?
I. Harding That is really interesting, because I think that because TV
is incredibly different from everything that I have experienced up to
this point, because I did theater most of my life prior to this, itís
just the kind of just do it mentality. Like where, for instance, a scene
like kind of scared me, Iím trying to think ofóoh, okay, letís say itís
like a shirtless scene or letís say itís a really intimate scene, I
think the biggest challenge is not over thinking it, which I can totally
do. I can over think like oh well we could be doing this in the scene
and blah, blah, blah, blah, and ultimately the biggest challenge has
just been kind of letting go and surrendering to the situation, to the
moment. And as kind of Hallmark channel as that sounds, not to say
anything about the Hallmark channel, but you just have to do it. So I
think letting go has been the biggest challenge so far in this whole
Moderator You had talked about liking to cook. I was wondering if there
was a favorite dish that you like to make?
I. Harding Oh man, oh I hate this question, because there are many a
things that I would like to cook. Well I suppose baking is not the same
as cooking, but kind of. Iím able to make a really good shortbread that
was pretty amazing recently. What else did I do recently? Oh man. I made
this amazing kind of raw beet and pear salad with mint and all this
other stuff. I havenít been cooking a lot of meat recently, but I used
to a long time, I did make this mean standing rib roast that was
practically just Jell-O. And actually that sounds kind of nasty, but it
was so tender that you could eat it with a spoon. So there are several
that Iíve made that are I would say my choice recipes.
Moderator How do you see Jackie playing into this season?
I. Harding First off, I love Paloma; she and I went to college together
actually. But Jackie will play a part in this, because we have shot a
few scenes that have been kind of foreboding. I canít really say the
context, but letís just say on the call sheet Iíll see it will say
Jackie or it will say Paloma, and sheís the only person in the scene,
and kind of weíre like oh what is that, what does that mean, and I donít
really know. So sheís not just like a filler character; sheís going to
have a part in whatever happens towards the middle of this season.
Moderator How do you think Ezra is going to react when he finds out
I. Harding Oh I think itís going to, how do I say this without getting
fired, I think itís not going to be what you expect. Like anything,
thereís going to be some misunderstandings and some moments where
everybody has to own up to their feelings, and I think itís going to
look like oh thatís so great, and then somethingís going to shift. So I
canít really say, I feel like Iím speaking in like the biggest
generalities possible, but I think it will be classic Ezra style and
then with a Pretty Little Liars twist.
Moderator Besides Aria and Ezra whoís your favorite couple on the show?
I. Harding What is my favorite couple on the show? I really love Spencer
and Toby; I think thereís a nice kind of juxtaposition there where just
they are always pulled together, incredibly neurotic Spencer with the
just almost ethereal Toby I think is a nice mix of character. And I
think that thatís going to be a relationship to watch over the coming
season, and hopefully seasons. So theyíre probably my favorite at the
Moderator Who on the show has Ezra not interacted with or not interacted
with as much that you would like to see him with?
I. Harding I would love to, Sasha Pieterse, who everybody forgets that
sheís I donít even think sheís 16 yet; the first time I met her I
thought she was easily like 22 or 23. And sheís a fantastic actress and
always brings so much to the table from what Iíve seen of her work and
in the table reads and everything. I would love to somehow do a scene
with her, but I donít think thatís really possible. Unless thereís some
crazy twist I donít think thatóI would love to do a scene with her. But
yes. Or Iíd love to do a scene with Torrey, only because sheís a good
friend of mine.
Moderator If there was anyone who you could bring onto the show or who
could guest star that you would like to work with who would it be?
I. Harding I mean nobody that I actually think would come on to the
show. Iím a big fan of right now Carey Mulligan or Marion Cotillard. I
just saw Beginners with Christopher Plumber and Ewan McGregor, and I
would love for them to come on the show, but I donít think thatís going
to pan out.
So somebody maybe a bit more realistic, like I donít know somebody from
Modern Family that would be great. Jesse Tyler Ferguson is hysterical;
Iíd love for him to have like a walk on scene stealing moment in Pretty
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