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Interview with Keegan Allen of "Pretty Little Liars"
on ABC Family, February 15, 2011.
I phoned in for this conference call,
but I wasn't able to ask a question this time (sometimes they have too
many interviewers for the amount of time). Keegan
Allen seemed like a nice guy and gave a lot of good information. Read
ABC Familyís Q&A Session with Keegan AllenĖ Pretty
Moderator Emily and Toby have a really unique relationship together; do
you think itís romantic chemistry or just friendship?
K. Allen At first they were just really great friends and theyíre both
very shy characters. I think that now, seeing as where Emily is going
with her own sexuality and finding who she is, they can be friends, but
heís still very hesitant of Emily. Weíll see that evolve more as the
series goes on.
Moderator Is Toby going to get positive resolution by the finale this
K. Allen Yes, I think that he will. Obviously we see Toby get beaten
down and heís always in that red spotlight. Getting his ankle bracelet
off and finding this friend in Spencer, I definitely see a positive turn
of events for him towards the finale.
Moderator Last night we saw Toby hanging out with Spencer; howís that
going to affect his relationship with Jenna?
K. Allen Thatís a really good question. Actually, Jenna is a very
jealous, jealous character. Toby and Jenna have that stepsibling crazy,
weird romance thing going on where heís been abused and bashed by her in
the past. I think the jealousy will rise from Jenna in a different way
than when it affected him with Emily. Now itís like another problem for
Jenna to deal with, more people trying to pull Toby away.
Moderator He appears to be kind of a strange, dark sort of guy. Where do
draw upon to get yourself into that place mentally?
K. Allen Iíve had a lot of friends who have reminded me of Toby; heís a
very interesting character to play. As you know, he has this dormant
angst in him that is really bottled up; the characterís very bottled up.
Itís interesting to play that as an actor because youíre able to give a
glimpse of happiness or sorrow. Heís been abused; he doesnít trust
anybody. I draw that from places of people that I used to know in high
school, that were the outsiders; they were very socially awkward. Toby
is very socially awkward. When he does find a friend he opens up; thatís
when you get the small, little hints removing that layer and seeing
that. Itís interesting to play that.
Moderator If you had to describe your characterís motivation in one
word, what would it be and why?
K. Allen Thatís really actually hard to describe. Heís an enigma and I
guess his motivations are drawn by the past. He was accused of murder
that he didnít do so I guess his motivation would just be to live his
life like a normal kid and just to get through. Heís still a child; heís
still a kid and likes to ride his motorcycle around. I guess his
motivation would just to be innocent, trying to get people to see that
heís not a monster.
Moderator Are there any of your characterís traits that mimic your own?
K. Allen Itís funny, Toby is a complete 180 of who I am. Like I was
saying before, itís really interesting to play that because he is very
bottled up and he holds back everything. If he did let it go it would be
a tremendous release; heís been abused during his childhood; he got sent
away, taking the blame for his sister being blind. I draw from other
people and other experiences, but heís very, very different from me.
Moderator One of my favorite things about the show is how the writers
constantly throw us for a loop. They give us a little bit of information
and we think we know what theyíre going to do with it then they go ahead
and turn us all around. As the actor in the show, do you get to know
whatís going to happen ahead of time or is just every script is like,
ďOh, I didnít see that comingĒ?
K. Allen Thatís a great question. Itís very true that we get
information; we might go to the writers and plead and plead, ďPlease
tell me what this means or whatís going to happen.Ē Sometimes they might
tell us, but everything gets changed so rapidly. As the actor, itís nice
to know whatís going to happen, but sometimes itís not so nice. The
writers do a really great job of give-and-take with us and when we go to
table-reads collectively, we all gasp and are so thrown for a loop
ourselves. Itís this roller coaster that we all go on as an ensemble,
writers included. Itís really great and they do such a great job keeping
all of us on the edge of our seats, so much so that even when Iím
watching the show and know whatís going to happen, Iím still biting my
Moderator I noticed in last nightís episode, your character and Spencer
really seem to have an interesting chemistry going on now. Do you think
thereís going to be a romantic relationship there or is it going to just
strictly be letís try and clear our names?
K. Allen Toby has been in that light where Spencer is right now, where
sheís slowly going through this place where people arenít believing her.
Sheís dealing with a whole bunch of issues herself and he knows where
that comes from; he comes from that same place. Itís like she starts to
maybe find a safe place to land with Toby in a way where we might not
have expected. He might open up just a little bit more to her because
the trust factor, he needs someone to trust; he has nobody to trust.
Spencer is very wise and intelligent; itís a great place for both of
them to be. There is definitely the chemistry and weíll see where it
Moderator You were talking before how Toby keeps things bottled up; I
was wondering how you de-stress personally.
K. Allen I love to long-board. Itís like skateboarding with long
skateboards. I love to go down to the beach; that is the best stress
reliever for me, to get on a long board and go right down a hill or take
a hike or play some music. I play piano and I play guitar; thatís a
really good stress reliever, too.
Moderator Since you play a music instrument and long board, would you
like to incorporate some those hidden talents into your character Toby?
K. Allen Itís funny that you say that; I really hope that someday, I see
it as Toby is brooding in the corner playing the organ, the pipe organ,
that would be psychotically creepy. That would be cool to incorporate
some of what I like to do into the character although Toby is such a
different character. I feel that anything the writers did write for him
would be really interesting to take on if it had nothing to do with my
talents or anything. It would be cool to step into those shoes of
something that might release stress for him.
Moderator Are we going to be able to get a little more clarification on
Tobyís and Jennaís relationship?
K. Allen They are stepsiblings; it was brought to everybodyís attention
during before the mid-season finale that Jenna was abusive towards Toby.
The clarification to it - itíll eventually come to that; thereíll be new
things that come up that will explain it better. Thereís not really that
far to go with it. Itís been brought up and itís been shown and weíll
see where it goes. Jenna is definitely a creeper and she does not want
him to leave her; itís like her safety blanket. He finds this sympathy
with Jenna even though he didnít blind Allison. He lives with her; itís
a vicious cycle.
Moderator What are the challenges and the pleasures of playing Toby?
K. Allen The challenge is definitely like I said before, heís so bottled
up and he has so many layers to him. The challenge is giving those
glimpses as an actor of that heís not just a flat character, that he has
these levels that he can play. Heís been so abused and he has nowhere
really to go and no one to trust; thatís a definite challenge is to
bring those little glimpses into the character and into the role. The
pleasures of playing him have been that I get to fix, I literally
learned how to reassemble a motorcycle a million times now, as youíll
see. I have taken apart my motorcycle and put it back together so many
Moderator How would you like Toby to grow?
K. Allen Iíd personally like Toby to grow; heís right now growing the
way the writers have portrayed him from the books, him growing past
dying in the book is amazing to me. In the book series he goes through
this whole thing and heís a totally different character. They took him
and they took all the greatest things from him and had him continue on.
Heís growing wonderfully the way that I see him now and the way that the
writers are portraying him. The way that I could see it continuing is
maybe making him go through more situations in which he is
uncomfortable; itís always fun to watch a character be uncomfortable and
the more uncomfortable, the more entertaining. Putting him in those
situations where he has to grow and he has to get through situations,
that would be interesting.
Moderator Do you think you can give us some hints on the storyline Ö.?
K. Allen He got his ankle bracelet off and heís developing this
relationship with Spencer that is right now very platonic, but still
heís looking for a trustworthy person; he might end up talking to Emily.
Weíll see how that goes because you have to remember that even though
Jenna came forward and said he had turned her in to the cops, he still
doesnít trust Emily. Weíll see that relationship evolve and Emily might
be a little bit jealous of Spencer and Tobyís newfound friendship.
Moderator How is it that you got involved in acting?
K. Allen I got involved in acting from a very young age. I grew up in a
very Bohemian family; my motherís a painter and an artist and my father
is an off-Broadway actor. Being around my dad growing up is a huge
influence on the thespian bug that bit me; being part of this ensemble
and this cast is so overwhelming, itís so great. I really liked editing
movies when I was younger, in high school. I did video production and I
realize that in learning behind the camera it was great and I love
everything. I learn so much on set every day from the camera crew and
everybody, but I really saw that I wanted to be in front of the camera.
That was where it started; I did a lot of exploring and where Iím at
today is just wonderful, Iím so blessed and grateful.
Moderator Can you talk a little bit about how you got the role of Toby?
K. Allen I long-boarded over to the casting office; I had a beanie on,
which my manager, he lost his mind when he found out I was wearing a
beanie for the audition. Itís just a huge no-no, but I wore this beanie,
long-boarded over there. It just worked out and it was great; I felt so
connected to the character and the rest is history. I went in and Oliver
Goldsmith and Marlene King both developed this character over the series
of books by Sara Shepard. I read all the books and I got really into the
series itself. Thatís how it developed; I became hooked on the book
series just like everybody else. It just continued the snowball effect
of learning about this character.
Moderator I know from the book series and everything who A is and Iím
sure you do, too. Do you know if theyíre going to go that way in the TV
show as well?
K. Allen The book series, obviously I canít tell you who A is even
though we, you and me, might know who it is from the book series; I
canít even divulge that. Itís one of those things, not only will I get
in a lot of trouble, but it constantly changes. The writers are doing a
great job. They have their ideas; obviously theyíre going to hold off on
who A is, the longer the better. I donít honestly, every time that I
think I know who A is, I donít. Every time I think I know who A is, it
gets switched around and changes so drastically that it drives me nuts.
Iím close with all of the writers and it drives me crazy; imagine how I
feel. I wish I could ask; I wish I could find out.
Moderator Toby is kind of a standoffish character at times. Has that
made for any memorable fan encounters in real life?
K. Allen Yes. I have a really interesting thing that just happened
recently at the Justin Bieber premier. A lot of fans that were there,
obviously part of that demographic, saw me and they wanted to all give
me a hug and it was a little bit crazy, getting a hug from a lot of
girls at one time was a little bit intense, but yes, Iíve had a lot of
fan encounters that have been really, really positive. Itís really great
that our fans are such good people; theyíre really good kids. Itís just
been really great and even though the characterís standoffish, I,
Keegan, am not. Itís great when people approach me and they talk to me.
I love talking to the fans and hearing what they want and what they see.
Getting insider ideas from them is always great.
Moderator What has been your personal favorite Toby moment so far?
K. Allen My personal favorite Toby moment used to be and still is, I
loved getting pushed through that wall of glass during the homecoming
episode. It was so weird, but we did that in one take and I just loved
having that happen. It would be a toss-up from that moment where Emily
pushed him through glass to this last episode when we were talking in
Jennaís room. The set design is beautiful and he comes in; it was
definitely one of those moments that was great. Also the moment where
Spencer sees Toby break down in the alleyway; that was another cool
moment. I canít really pick just one, but definitely those are up there.
Moderator What character that Toby has not yet interacted with on the
show would you like to see him interact with?
K. Allen I would love Toby to interact with Ezra Fitz. Even though they
shared a glance, it wasnít even like a real glance; it was Ezra coming
out and noticing that Toby was taking that stoic walk through the
hallway. Iíd love to see Toby talk to Ezra; I just think that it would
be really interesting conversation even because Ezraís been talking to
Jenna. I think it would be great to have that take on Toby and Ezra. Ian
is a good friend of mine so it would be fun to do a scene with him.
Moderator Iím curious, now that Toby is off the hook how do you want to
see the character evolve?
K. Allen I would love to see him go through more, experience someone
that he trusts, would be the most rewarding thing for me to deal with.
Like Iíve been saying, heís so held back and is such a caged, beaten dog
almost. It would be great to just see him, which is starting now. He
gets his ankle bracelet off; heís finding this friend in Spencer. I
think where the show is taking it, itís going to be great to see what
happens over these next few shows into the season.
Moderator Toby hasnít really had a romantic relationship on the show
yet; who would you choose for him to go out with if you could choose any
of the Pretty Little Liars cast members?
K. Allen Thatís a really good question. I personally donít know who I
would choose. Itís funny, I feel like he could go with anybody,
obviously not Aria because that would be a little bit intense. Iíve even
thought a funny one would be Ella; Ariaís mom would be awesome. Thatís
obviously a silly fantasy, but you never know.
Moderator Have you seen the Pretty Little Liars It Gets Better PSA and
if so, what do you think of it?
K. Allen I think it was amazing and I loved how all the girls and
Marlene King and Oliver Goldsmith stood up and spoke for something
thatís a real issue. I love that the show touches on these issues; it
should allow people to see that whoever they are, youíre beautiful and
you can be whoever you want to be; nobody should be allowed to tell you
otherwise. I think that PSA does a really great job of that. Itís very
rewarding to be part of a show like this with writers and developers
that are so passionate about the message that we relay.
Pretty Little Liars Official Site:
Toby Cavanaugh Character Bio: Toby is the mysterious boy living down the
street from Emily who has been pegged by the town of Rosewood and the
police as a person of interest in Alison's murder. Described as a
loner and troublemaker, there is more to Toby than people might think.
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