Lucy Hale, Ashley Benson, Sasha Pieterse, Troian Bellisario, Marlene King, Oliver Goldstick and Joseph Dougherty
The Truth About Pretty Little Liars
by Samantha Speiss
The cast and creators of Pretty Little Liars appeared at PaleyFest panel on October 11, at the Paley Center for the Media in New York City, an event open for both fans and media alike. The panel started by showing a five minute preview for the upcoming season six of Pretty Little Liars. In attendance on the panel were stars Lucy Hale, Ashley Benson, Sasha Pieterse, Troian Bellisario and creators Marlene King, Oliver Goldstick, and Joseph Dougherty.
Early in the night, the girls demonstrated the nickname “pretty little weirdoes,” humorously given to them by the PaleyFest event moderator Andy Swift from TVLine.com. The moniker is credited to their funny personalities and the all-around silliness they exude. They were down to earth and shared more little tidbits than their fans could ever imagine about the show, their cast mates and their tight friendship.
If you haven’t watched Pretty Little Liars from season one, it’s okay. Now is a good time to start. While answers will be revealed to some of the previous seasons’ mysteries that should satisfy current fans, the show can now be picked up and easily followed by new fans! With a five year jump in time, the new season will start like an entirely new show, so it may be an ideal time if you never tuned in before now.
The cast shared their excitement with the fact that Sasha Pieterse is now a permanent member of the cast rather than just existing in flashbacks. Though, Pieterse said “I have been buried four times!” she is excited, because though she has been on the show regularly in flashbacks, she will now make her presence better known.
These young actresses were full of laughter and fun while they discussed the show. Their close friendship was evident.
Oliver Goldstick, the show’s executive producer, told us, “When we are watching television I think we all say, ’I want those friends. I want that group of people. That’s my tribe.’ Because all we are looking for ultimately is our tribe. Whether it’s high school, college, or right after college, we try to find like-minded people who will be there for us. No matter how crazy our show gets, we always try to stay grounded and believe that these girls are still friends.”
On the stage at the Paley Center, they shared giggles, some private jokes amongst themselves and reminiscences. Ashley Benson even said, “I just burped,” clearly comfortable with everyone around her. Benson admitted, “I’m the most likely to crack up randomly and make others laugh!”
It seems so unique to see all cast members not only good friends on set but also off the set. You could really see that they had a strong love for each other.
The show has a popular promotion poster displaying Lucy Hale’s character of Aria in the center, “shushing” everyone. Hale joked that she had started this pose and it became a hit, and since then, Hale laughed, “Everyone is copying me!”
The girls claimed that shushing correctly is not as easy at it looks. The secret to a perfect shush is having your finger in the dead center of your lips. While doing so, you have to look directly into the camera. Sounds easy right? Not. You have to look sexy, while looking demure, shy, confident and on and on….
It’s not easy being a Pretty Little Liar. The actresses spilled that it is very embarrassing and very nerve-wracking to do this successfully. When it is time to do the shush, if they do it wrong, they have to do the take all over again.
Everyone learned that sets are not just sets for the girls of Pretty Little Liars. They have become more of a home after so many years. Troian Bellisario talked about why she took a picture of her room on set and posted it on social media. It was a very emotional time for her. After the last day of filming in her room, the set was going to be dismantled. Bellisario told people on set how sad she was that she was never going to see her room again and she would like to say goodbye to it. It was then when someone in the crew exclaimed “they’re taking it apart now!”
Bellisario told the audience, “I bolted across the set to get to my room before they took it down!” Taking it all in, Bellisario, just sat in the middle of the floor. Why? Because, she spent the last six years in that little room, filming for hours upon hours. It became almost like her real bedroom at home, with so many memories attached to it. Bellisario grew up in that room.
A question was asked about how the girls feel about their characters’ fashion and each girl happily answered. “My style is very classy and grown up”, stated Pieterse. She laughed that she really loves her character’s fashion sense and that the other girls are envious. laughing.
Bellisario shared that with the five year jump, she was asked how she would like her hair to be. She told us all that she told the designer that she “would love to chop it off and dye it a crazy color,” but she knew that it wouldn’t happen because she was still portraying Spencer and not a totally new character. So, she told them she wanted bangs!
Lucy Hale told us that “one time I wore a pencil skirt for an episode, which is super unique!” She shared that her fashion actually helped her “in real life.” Aria’s style was/is so weird and crazy, and yet Aria pulls it off – with a sense of confidence. So, Lucy Hale channeled her inner Aria fashion in real life.
We talked with executive producer Goldstick about what the biggest change regarding the five-year jump. Goldstick laughed, “I am very tired. The biggest difference as far as the filming and all, is the girls have a different sense of ownership. They have been playing these characters for so many years and all of them are very confident. Hanna [Ashley Benson’s character], having moved to New York, has a different confidence and swagger she may not have had in Rosewood High.”
The panel discussion led to discussions about each character’s future in the new season, five years down the road in show time.
“I was first surprised I became a teacher, but then I realized it made sense,” stated Pieterse regarding her character’s future. Alison had always been passionate in English. She told everyone that she has a new special man in her life, though as of the preview for season six, she isn’t married yet.
Hale said that her character, Aria, channeled her creative side and went the publishing route. “I have always known I have wanted to go to college,” Hale said, regarding her character. However, Hale admitted that she was surprised that her character went into publishing, rather than photography. Hale also said that she eventually has to go back to Rosewood where we see “stuff hit the fan again.”
Bellisario said her character of Spencer is moving along with her political aspirations. “I am super smart,” Bellisario exclaimed. She is called back to Rosewood to help her mother with a political campaign, running for a seat in the senate.
Ashley Benson shared that Hanna is engaged. You also get to see her new life in the fashion world.
The girls all agreed that if they could have any crossover episodes with a different series, they would be ecstatic. While two girls picked one show and two girls picked another, both were unique choices. Bellisario and Benson said that they would love to work with Orange is the New Black. They laughed, “We would fit right in on Orange is the New Black! Catfights everywhere.” Hale and Pieterse said they felt PLL would be a great connection with Girls, because their characters can be very catty at times.
It seems like Pretty Little Liars has been a hit since day one, but when did the girls realize how big the show was going to be?
Pieterse shared an interesting story. She was on Catalina Island right after she had just graduated from high school. The pilot for Pretty Little Liars was just taped, but had not aired yet. A girl caught a glimpse of her and said “Oh my gosh are you the girl who’s playing Allison in Pretty Little Liars?” Pieterse was shocked because season one hadn’t even aired yet, so this girl recognized her just off of the preview.
Hale said that she saw the billboard in Brazil, as well as fans camping outside of their hotel room in another country. The international success of the show really struck a special note for her, making her realize it was bigger than she thought.
Marlene King, creator, said she realized how big it was going to be when it became a worldwide trending topic on Twitter eight hours before the show premiered.
Goldstick knew was going to be a hit when a girl at a London airport was non-stop questioning him who A was.
What is the secret to a successful show, you wonder? Executive producer Joe Dougherty joked, “You have to plan what you are going to eat for lunch very early in the day! Otherwise, you will be thinking about lunch during the first three hours when you are trying to write stories and remember what you did the day before. Yes, television runs on its lunch. Lunch is the most important thing.”
Goldstick told us that the secret to having a good show was “Staying awake” He laughed. “No, probably, in a show like this… I have done many shows, I would say… the relationship between the characters have to be so solid and relatable. And, unconditional love which is a big part of what we want.”
Bellisario shared that if she could tell her character anything, she would tell herself to decorate her dressing room “…. much earlier.” She never got around to it because she always “thought the show wouldn’t last as long as it did.” Eventually she was given an ultimatum – if she didn’t pick a color to paint her dressing room, they would paint her room pink. Pink is Bellisario’s least favorite color, so she ended up having her dressing room done blue, and then got matching pillows for her sofa and other decorations.
Hale would tell herself to not only live more in the moment, but to pay attention to those moments – every single one of them.
The girls were all getting very sentimental about the show and about it possibly wrapping up in the near future. Hale exclaims, “I spent more time with these people than my real family!”
Not only is the cast like family, but so is the crew – everyone is beloved. The show has had entirely the same crew for seasons now. Everyone clearly has became very close and would not be too happy about the show coming to an end after season six.
Goldstick told us, “It’s been a real pleasure. We have had a lot of fun. I have worked on long running shows. I have been on shows later in their [runs], like [season] six and seven of other TV shows in the past. But, I had never been with a show since day one and all the way through. It is a real nice history.”
Of course, everyone wants some hints: what about season seven? How far will the season go? We even asked Dougherty what his thoughts were on a season eight. He said that, “It is all going to depend on how people feel about what we are doing in the end of season six and [in season] seven. We have no interest in dissatisfying or disappointing anyone. So, everything is possible.”
King said that it is sounding like they will, in fact, go into season seven. It seems rather clear that no matter how many more seasons they spend on the air, these pretty little girls will continue to be together in some way or another for the rest of their lives.
Copyright ©2015 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: October 25, 2015.
Photos ©2015. Courtesy of PaleyFest/Rubinstein PR. All rights reserved.