Of all the surprises on ABC Family’s twist-filled PRETTY LITTLE LIARS, now in its third season on ABC Family Tuesday nights at 8 PM, one of the biggest revolves around Keegan Allen’s character Toby Kavanaugh. Toby, apparently one of the world’s best boyfriends to core character Spencer (Troian Bellisario), has turned out to be part of the treacherous and criminal “A” team.
Taking a few moments after a big Q and A event at the Television Critics Association press tour, Allen answers a few more questions about playing turncoat Toby.
AX: So were you surprised or pleased when you found out you were on the “A” team?
KEEGAN ALLEN: I was both. I was very, very pleased. The writers came to me and asked me how I felt about taking the character that was Toby, from being the moral compass of the show, the good boyfriend, who started out as an outsider and as a bad guy in high school, to turning him into this betrayer. And I thought it was great, because not only do we flip Rosewood out of whack, kind of, and the realm of these characters, but we also [surprise] the audience, and everybody likes a great surprise.
AX: Had you read any of Sara Shepard’s PRETTY LITTLE LIARS novels before you joined the cast?
ALLEN: I was on it in the very beginning. The books had come out, and the books had a really great cult following. Upon receiving word that I was part of the show – at the time, there were only six books – I read the books and they were like candy, really easy read, fun and really fiercely addicting, even for someone in my demographic. I was like, “Oh, my gosh, this is a really good murder mystery,” as it started out. But the show’s gone in such a different realm of relationships.
AX: Is your character Toby in the books?
ALLEN: He is. He dies in the second book, he commits suicide, and originally I think that was the character arc. But the writers and the fans came together and they didn’t want to kill this character. So in a way, we took the plot and the storyline from the books, and we kind of then turned them around. Because if you know what’s going to happen, there’s no fun in watching the show. There are almost two universes where PRETTY LITTLE LIARS exist. I personally like the television version a lot, but Sara Shepard’s an amazing writer and she’s come up with some great plot twists in the books as well.
AX: In person, you seem a little older than the high school age you play on the show …
ALLEN: A bit.
AX: How is it playing a high school student?
ALLEN: I was not a big fan of high school [social] drama when I was in high school, but the show does a great job of showing how much of an intense place high school is and what it entails and the high school-ness of it comes through. And it’s a challenge, but sometimes I sit and I just remember how I would wake up sometimes and be like, “Oh, man, I really don’t want to go.” Not because of learning – I loved taking classes – but more so because of the social [unint.] that happens in high school. It’s very cliquey and …
AX: Have you ever felt a desire to do what the “A” team does in high school to the annoying popular kids?
ALLEN: Oh, man. I would have probably done it on a legal level, probably gone around and been that phantom. That would have been fun. The show takes it into a different realm, where it’s illegal, it’s harassment, but they’re so good. The A Team is so good at it.
AX: Are PRETTY LITTLE LIARS fans pretty enthusiastic when they meet you?
ALLEN: The fans are. Like I’ve said before, there’s a relatability to the show that doesn’t just have to do with if a guy takes off his shirt – it’s more so about this relatability to, “Oh, my gosh, I understand you, I understand this character,” and what goes on in that relationship, so that the fans understand it and they’re excited about what’s going to happen, more so than I’ve ever seen in my career.
AX: Do you have any other projects coming up that we should know about?
ALLEN: I did a movie with Gia Coppola that’s her directorial debut, based on the book by James Franco called PALO ALTO STORIES. I do a little cameo in it. It’s great. It’s with Jack Kilmer, Nat Wolff, Emma Roberts – really funny cast. It’s a totally different character than this.
AX: Is there anything you’d like to say about PRETTY LITTLE LIARS right now?
ALLEN: I love that the fans are consistently bringing to the table what they want to see, because we listen to the fans – this is a very fan-based show and the writers do a great job of translating what they already know the show is going to be, but [also] taking on what the fans want to see. And that changes everything.
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Article: Exclusive Interview: PRETTY LITTLE LIARS star Keegan Allen on Season 3