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

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By Suzanne

Janel Parrish

Interview with Janel Parrish of "Pretty Little Liars" on ABC Family 3/20/12

ABC Familyís Q&A Session with ďAĒ (Mona/Janel Parrish)Ė Pretty Little Liars

Moderator Iím a little worried, but I hope Iím safe from you now that youíre Ö ďA.Ē

J. Parrish I promise Iím safe in my apartment and I donít have my hoodie on right now, so youíre safe.

Moderator Was it a hard transitioning from the bubbly Mona that fans are used to, to the dark twisted Mona that we saw last night in the episode?

J. Parrish Yes. That was definitely the most challenging part and also the most fun part was transitioning from this bubbly character that Iíve played for two years to this dark, psychopath character that Iíve never in my life played before. Thatís what made it so appealing was that it was a challenge. It was fun and I had to just kind of let go of this character that Iíve built for two years and create a new one and just go there. Thatís what was really, really fun.

Moderator Youíre doing Spring Awakening in L.A. Does this mean there will be less Mona in Season 3?

J. Parrish Definitely not. Iíve just been made a series regular for Season 3, so itís very exciting. You will see more Mona. I am doing Spring Awakening in my hiatus because we do not start filming Pretty Little Liars until Season 3 starts April 2, so Iíve had time in my break to do a musical, which has been amazing because musicals are actually my first love.

Moderator Youíve probably had plenty of suspicions that you were ďAĒ just because of the books to begin with, so take us through when you first actually found out that you were going to be making this crazy, kind of awesome transition.

J. Parrish Well, like you said, I had an idea during the pilot because I read the books, and since I was ďA in the books. Iíd asked the producers if I was ďAĒ and they were being very coy and saying that I could be ďAĒ but things could change since weíre not following the books exactly. Iíd always kind of put it in the back of my mind that I could be ďAĒ and I found out officially the week that we were filming the finale. We got the scripts a week before we started filming it. I read it and I was super excited. It was surreal and it was really hard not to tell anyone that I was ďA.Ē

Moderator Has Marlene given you any sort of details about what youíre going to be doing in Season 3 yet that you can share?

J. Parrish I do know that Season 3 the premiere will take place six months after Mayaís body was found, so itís the second anniversary of Alisonís death. Mona will have been in the Radley Sanatorium for the last six months. Sheíll get a mysterious visitor. Youíll find out more about that and there will just be more answers and connecting the dots.

Moderator The episode kept us jumping from suspect to suspect, but before you found out for sure, was there a moment in the scripts that you became absolutely convinced that you were ďAĒ? Was a there a moment you always look back on and, ďI just have to be ĎAí?Ē

J. Parrish I started to suspect that it was me once I started getting texts from ďA.Ē That does happen in the books and I know that Mona was sending them to herself, so I had a feeling that thatís where they were headed with it. Like I said, they never confirmed that I was ďAĒ until I got the script, so I was trying not to get my hopes up too high.

Moderator Mona mostly had scenes with Hanna, but these past few episodes you were getting more in with the other girls and Caleb, of course, but as ďAĒ now it just opens up this entire new world for Mona and you both. Is there anyone in the cast that you havenít had too many scenes with yet that youíd like to see Mona interact with the upcoming season?

J. Parrish Interestingly enough, Marlene has said that people will start having scenes with each other that you didnít even know knew each other, so Iím excited. I think a lot of people in Rosewood are connected that the viewers donít know about yet, so weíre going to start to see all of that come to light in Season 3. I do think Iím going to have some scenes with people Iíve never had scenes with before, which is always fun to work with new people.

Moderator How is the revelation that Mona is ďAĒ going to affect her friendship with Hanna?

J. Parrish Itís safe to say their friendship is ruined. I kind of hope to see a showdown. I think that would be awesome. If Mona and Hanna meet face-to-face, I think it would be a very interesting interaction so Iím hoping Marlene gives that to me. It would be fun.

Moderator We learned at the very end of the finale that there might be a ďTeam A,Ē so what are we going to learn about ďTeam AĒ and Monaís mysterious visitor in Season 3?

J. Parrish You will definitely learn about that in Season 3. I donít know exactly when. I know that theyíve started writing the episodes. I have not seen anything yet. Iím super excited to see where itís going, but yes, Season 3 is going to start to get crazy.

Moderator Throughout the series there have been some hints that you were ďA.Ē Can you tell us what any of those were?

J. Parrish Definitely. I think once you look back now that you know whoís ďAĒ youíd definitely find some sly little hints in there. Definitely the scenes where Iím helping Emily hack into the vice principalís system to find out that he was bribed definitely shows that Mona had some technical skills that people didnít know about. It also shows that she has a little bit of a devious side.

There is a scene where Mona finds out that Jenna is dating Noel and I saw in the script they wanted me to have a moment where I just looked very angry. I remember it said something like, ďMona is Ö, and not just in a Ďyou stole my boyfriend kind of Ö off way,íĒ and that was kind of telling to me that they wanted me to show a different side. I think, yes, if you go back and watch some of the episodes youíd find some hints.

Moderator Mona has always been pretty harsh with Lucas and last night we saw Lucas maybe has a dark side coming out in him with his meeting Jenna. Is there any relationship there that we didnít know about, that we should be expecting next season?

J. Parrish Yes. It will be very interesting. Iím not even entirely certain the answer to that question, but I know that the writers do everything for a reason. If they show you a glimmer of something itís for a reason. Nothing is an accident.

Moderator How are you going to be playing this role differently now that you know that sheís such a sinister character?

J. Parrish Well, I think that kind of depends on what the writers give me because Iím not sure where theyíre going to take this. I kind of need to get the script and see how I prepare, but I know when I did get the script for the finale it was totally different. My whole mindset of how to play the character was completely changed.

Itís really just, like I said earlier, letting go of everything that Iíve created for this character for two years. Everything that Iíve built upon for this character doesnít really matter anymore. Unless there are flashbacks of me as that Mona, Iím now creating a new character. Itís really exciting and Iím excited to see where it goes.

Moderator As more of a person and less of an actor, do you feel different toward her now that you know that sheís kind of a bully?

J. Parrish Yes, kind of. I think that there is a lot more going on that hasnít been told yet. I think weíre going to find more about her motives. I donít think we know the whole story yet, so Iím excited to find out more about it.

Moderator Congratulations, youíre a series regular for Series 3 and Iím assuming that means that youíre not going to be stuck in that Radley Sanatorium the whole time. Where do you want to see Mona go? Do you want to just see her completely unhinged in Series 3 or seeking redemption? How would you like that to play out?

J. Parrish Iíd love to see her seek redemption. Iíd love it if she could just break out and go crazy and wreak some havoc on Rosewood, but I can honestly tell you I have no idea where itís going to go. That would be my choice.

Moderator We found Mayaís body at the end of the episode. Do you know if ďAĒ was involved in that murder in any way? Was she texting Emily all along like with Melissa and Ian?

J. Parrish I think all of those things will definitely be revealed in Season 3, but like I said, nothing is unconnected in Rosewood. Itís a creepy little town. There are creepy little people in it, so I wouldnít be surprised if everything is connected in some way. I just donítí know to what extent yet.

Moderator You talk about how Pretty Little Liars is so good at having subtle little details in each episode like the blonde in the red dress from the finale last night. Can you talk about how it affects the storyline as whole?

J. Parrish I think it definitely keeps people guessing and suspecting everyone in the show, which is fun. It keeps people tuning in to find out whatís happening and I think once the pieces are put together itís that much more fulfilling because people say, ďOh, I remember when in this episode this happened and that happened. Now it makes sense,Ē and then itís rewarding when you have the answers.

Moderator Mona is one of the most complex characters on the show because her screen time is more limited. How do you feel that parameter helped her keep up the facade of being ďAĒ?

J. Parrish I think it was very effective because the fact that I wasnít always everywhere, I wasnít readily in the public eye, people canít say, ďOh, it must be Mona. Sheís always around.Ē Theyíre very smart with the way that they had my character kind of pop in and out every now and then and make an appearance and leave and then kind of start to build upon my character at the end showing me working my way into the group of girls before the big reveal. I think the writers have been really, really smart with that.

Moderator How hard was it to keep it a secret that you were ďAĒ once you found out?

J. Parrish It was so hard. I had such an amazing time filming the finale and I just wanted to be able to tell everyone about it. Torrey and I got to do stunts. It was amazing. I got to be creepy in a mental hospital and I just wanted to tell everyone, but it was really rewarding that I didnít tell everyone because last night when people got to see it they were very, very excited.

Moderator If Pretty Little Liars were to have a crossover with another show, which show would you like ďAĒ to wreak havoc on?

J. Parrish Revenge. I love that show so much.

Moderator Are you surprised that the TV show followed the book so closely and do you think that people who are watching it are surprised that it was Mona in the end?

J. Parrish I am not surprised that we did follow the books in that way. I like the way they did it because it is such a big part of the books that Mona is ďAĒ that I think fans probably would have been upset if they would have changed that, but I think that the way they revealed it went a little different than the books. Obviously, I didnít die like I did in the books. I survived and theyíre taking it in another direction. I think itís actually great because the book fans get what they have been hoping for and been wanting and expecting, but they get a little bit more of a twist to keep them excited.

Moderator Since we were just talking about fan feedback, how has the fan feedback been since you were revealed? Have you been on Twitter and seeing what people are saying?

J. Parrish Yes. Iíve been on Twitter. Itís crazy. A lot of it has been great. People are very excited that Iím ďAĒ and they want to see where it goes. A lot of them said that they knew. A lot of them were shocked.

Some of them I guess feel a little disappointed because I guess they were under the impression that it would be different from the books, but really weíve never said that ďAĒ would be different from the books. We said that the reveal would be different and it kind of was. It didnít happen exactly the way it went in the books. They will have nothing to worry about because there will be a lot more surprises coming their way.

Moderator Now that you know for sure that Mona was ďA,Ē are there any scenes looking back you wish youíd have played differently or that maybe you would play differently now that you know the truth?

J. Parrish Interestingly enough, I did go to Marlene King at one point and she gave me a scene. I went up to her and I said, ďIs there a certain way you want me to play this because you havenít really told me 100% that I am ďAĒ yet? I donít know if you want me to play these scenes differently or if you want me to keep doing what Iím doing. What do you need from me to make your big plan work?Ē She just said, ďKeep doing what youíre doing. Weíre giving you these scenes for a reason. Do your thing. We love all your instincts and everything will make sense in the end.Ē It was kind of nice because I feel like I never really had to worry about it. I just did the material the way they gave it to me and let them kind of guide me.

Moderator When you read the part of the script a week before shooting where Mona falls off of the cliff you said you were very excited to find out that you were going to be ďA,Ē but was your excitement ever dampened? That brief moment where you see she falls off a cliff did you think, ďOh, well they just killed me off?Ē

J. Parrish Absolutely. Definitely, especially because in the books thatís what happens is I pull the car over, Spence and I get into a fight, and she pushes me and I fall off a cliff and I die. When I read that my heart definitely stopped for a second and I thought, ďOh, great, this is my last episode of Pretty Little Liars,Ē until I found out that they saved my life and kept me in the show. Iím just so grateful to still be a part of it.

Moderator Have you ever seen Twin Peaks?

J. Parrish I love Twin Peaks and yes, absolutely I see the correlation. I definitely think that Pretty Little Liars is like a modern slightly less creepy version of Twin Peaks and itís great. Itís a small town. The queen bee dies. Everyoneís a suspect. Everyone has a secret, so I actually love that.

Moderator How did the rest of the cast react when you guys all found that out?

J. Parrish Differently. Some of them were very shocked. Some of them had suspicions from the beginning. Overall, everyone was just extremely excited. It was the most intense episode weíve ever had and everyone felt the excitement, even in the table read room. It was very exciting.

Moderator At the end we see Mona talking to the girl in the red coat. Does that mean that we can expect more than one ďA,Ē especially since you talked about ďTeam A?Ē Is the black swan involved somehow?

J. Parrish Yes. Youíre definitely going to see connections between everyone and I think Season 3 will focus more upon that.

Moderator How did you get involved with doing musicals and acting?

J. Parrish I started out when I was six I did the touring company of Les Miserables and went to Broadway with that. That was my first love immediately and then back home in Hawaii I did musical theater until I moved here when I was 14 and then started getting into TV and film. Itís really exciting to go back to musical theater after all this time.

Moderator Do you have a favorite moment from filming, whether it be behind the scenes or something you were doing that they might be interested in knowing?

J. Parrish My favorite scene is definitely when Spencer and I grapple because we had just so much fun doing those stunts together. We definitely had a couple giggles before the cameras got on us so it was super fun and then falling off the hill that was fun. They put pads down and I was kind of scared every time, but it was super fun.

Moderator In a way, PLL is about mean girl politics gone to the extremes. Have you had any personal experiences with mean girls?

J. Parrish Oh, definitely. I live in Los Angeles and Iím in the entertainment business. I think every girl, especially like high schoolers, can really relate to the show because you have to deal with people bullying you and making you feel bad about yourself every day. You just have to have confidence in yourself and be strong. I think young girls can definitely relate to the show.

Moderator I saw on Twitter that Pretty Little Liars was trending eight times all over the world so that was great to see. How did Mona know about Aria and Ezra? I donít think we quite find out how she got all the information.

J. Parrish Yes. I think a lot of those questions will definitely be answered in Season 3. I donít even know 100% how Mona gets everything. She definitely mentioned an ďA TeamĒ so thatís a possibility and you know she also had Alisonís diary. Thatís how she knew about a lot of past things, but as far as a lot of the present things they did mention that Hannaís phone was set to record every time it would turn on so obviously she can hear whatís going on. As far as everything else, she may have help and we find more about that in Season 3.

Moderator If you could choose the character that you would like to see Mona just lose her mind on next season who would you choose to take the biggest revenge on?

J. Parrish Oh, man, probably Hanna just because I feel like sheís the easiest target and sheís the most vulnerable right now. I would love to see a cat fight.

Moderator What do you think the chances are that we might see a Pretty Little Liars musical episode?

J. Parrish That would be fantastic. Man, I would love that.

Moderator You should talk to Marlene and make that happen.

J. Parrish I would love that, yes, because a lot of us do sing so that would be fantastic.

Moderator Marlene King tweeted today that Mona did all the things that ďAĒ did, except for two things. I was wondering had she told you this before.

J. Parrish No. I actually read that today too and was kind of surprised because I donít really know what she means yet.

Moderator Which things do you kind of hope you didnít do? If you had to sort of guess what were the two worst things that ďAĒ did that you were cringing at and hoping, ďI hope Mona didnít do this?Ē Like the creepy massage, poor Emily got that creepy massage and there are some really disturbing things that ďAĒ did.

J. Parrish I donít think I did the creepy massage because I was with Ken at the horse stable so thatís probably one of them. Maybe setting the fire on Jenna. I would like to think someone else other than her doing that, but Iím not sure.

Moderator Do you have any favorite ďAĒ moments and did any of those change now that you know it was Mona?

J. Parrish Favorite ďAĒ moments? Itís hard. Iím trying to remember all of them, so creepy. I love when ďAĒ sends an exterminator to their house and says that there is some type of infestation in Hannaís basement because Calebís living there. I love that. ďAĒ has done some creepy stuff.

Moderator Itís awesome that you are ďA,Ē but if you had to pick one other person for it to have been instead, who were you kind of hoping if it wasnít you?

J. Parrish My first suspect before I knew it was me was probably Jenna. She would make a creepy ďA.Ē

Moderator There have been rumors floating around that there possibly could be a PLL movie. Do you have any information concerning that?

J. Parrish I heard whispers about that too but I donít know for sure. If there is, I would love to be in it.

Moderator Do you have to get into different mindsets when playing Mona and ďA?Ē

J. Parrish Absolutely. It was funny Marlene one of the first things she said to me when I was getting ready to do my first scene as ďAĒ was, ďMake sure you donít do your sing song talk voice that you do for Mona.Ē I had to make sure that I completely changed my vocal inflection, which is hard for me because I kind of sing song everything anyway.

It was different getting into a different mindset and I actually go to play three different characters in the finale Ė the dorky Mona, popular Mona, and crazy Mona. Kind of like an actorís dream. It was really fun. It was like a workshop for me.

Moderator The cashmere sweater clue just before Spencer figured out it was you, how fun was that to set up in the show?

J. Parrish It was really, really fun because all the clues just came to a head at that one point. We had a blast filming that.

Moderator hat has been the most challenging thing for you filming the show so far, other than keeping ďAĒ a secret?

J. Parrish The most challenging thing probably just playing such a complex character with different levels. I didnít want to make her just the stereotypical bubble gum mean girl. I wanted to give her more layers and give her a reason for why she was the way that she was.

Moderator If Mona or ďAĒ was ever to get a love interest, who of the current guys would you like to see her with?

J. Parrish Since Iíve been asked this before, Iím going to use the same answer. The new guy Duncan is really cute.

Moderator If Mona were to get with another girl on the show, who would you want her to get with?

J. Parrish Come on, Emily. Sheís hot.

Moderator Your transformation last night happened when you put on that hoodie. Is that how youíre going to prepare going forward to just transform yourself into this Voldemort-type character by putting on the hoodie?

J. Parrish That would be cool. If they have it there for me every time it would be a good preparation choice definitely. No, but it was really cool the first time I put the hoodie on and I looked at myself in the mirror and it was like this is going to be really creepy and weird.

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