Interview with Ian Harding of "Pretty Little Liars" on ABC Family - Primetime TV Show Articles From The TV MegaSite
 

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By Suzanne

Ian Harding

Interview with Ian Harding of "Pretty Little Liars" on ABC Family 6/28/11.

ABC Familyís Q&A Session with Ian HardingĖ Pretty Little Liars

Moderator Why do you think people love Ezra and Ariaís relationship so much?

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 relationship?

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 apartment now?

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 pretty goofy.

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 vague.

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 simple things.

Moderator Did you imagine Pretty Little Liars being as big as it has gotten?

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 now.

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 now?

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 weeks?

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 you?

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 process.

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 about Jason?

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 moment.

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 Little Liars.

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