Pawn -- starring Michael Chiklis, Forest Whitaker, Ray Liotta and Sean Faris -- opens with a seemingly innocent scenario: a cop makes his standard, mid-shift diner stop to grab some grub. But that's when anything resembling normalcy, both on-screen and in the script, evaporates as a series of double crosses and hidden agendas come to light, making the new-to-DVD thriller a nifty little surprise.
ETonline caught up with Faris to talk about his role as reformed (?) convict Nick in the movie, and how he's been adjusting to the mystery surrounding his new Pretty Little Liars character, Detective Holbrook!
ETonline: This script is full of twists and turns. What was your reaction to first reading it?
Sean Faris: It took me about 15 minutes to realize that what I was reading wasn't exactly how things were playing out. The writer did a great job of taking you down a path and making you think this is where the story is going to go before. That was the first thing that hooked me into the script.
ETonline: And then you find out the long line of amazing actors involved...
Faris: Honestly, if I like a script and see any one of those names attached, I'm in. There is no question about it. All those guys were attached before I joined, so I was doing backflips. I would have made this movie for free, I just wanted to work with this amazing cast.
ETonline: Is it like a free acting class?
Faris: Oh man ... working with Michael Chiklis is a lesson in professionalism and staying focused. That's what Chiklis brings all day long. But I gotta tell you, three hours with Forest Whittaker was like 10 years worth of acting classes. I only shot with him for three hours, and I learned more in that time that I did in all my acting classes. Although, I should say, because I had 10 years of acting classes under my belt, I was ready to learn what he taught me in that time.
ETOnline: What did you like about your character, Nick?
Faris: I feel like Nick has such a great arc – coming out of prison and having made mistakes, there was so much going on for the character and his pregnant wife, that I wanted the opportunity to embody that. All actors want to be faced with challenges, that's why we do this -- and he's got the biggest challenge of his life ahead: becoming a father. And all these roadblocks get thrown in front of him, which is just like life as you fight to achieve your goals.
ETonline: Pawn is full of twists and turns, but you know how it all ends because a movie script has a beginning, middle and end. How does it compare joining Pretty Little Liars, where you don't always have a backstory and the character can change at any minute?
Faris: As a recurring character on the show, I'm only in a few scenes per episode, and you're right, I don't know where my character is going. Just the other day I was trying to figure out if I should give the writers options on how I play him so they can take my character in different directions or not. I can play Holbrook as he's written, but can add undertones to keep the audience guessing. It's been interesting because I could, essentially, affect the way they write for my character depending on how I play it.
ETonline: Right, which is kind of the doubly exciting part about playing a recurring character I'd guess.
Faris: That's something I've only realized in the last few days. It's funny you and I are having this conversation now because I was talking with Roma Maffia, who plays my partner on the show, and we literally had this discussion of "we could play it this way, we could play it that way." So we did each of our scenes three different ways and the editors can cut it together however they'd like to.
ETonline: Regardless of which take is used, what do you like about Detective Holbrook?
Faris: Officer Holbrook is, about, 27-years-old but is already a successful detective and in order to do that, you have to be on your game. He's a hard worker, he's very focused, he's to the point, but he's also surrounded by a group of suspects who are all beautiful young women, so we'll see how he stands the test. It'll be the biggest test he's ever faced -- although, as of right now, he doesn't see this case as the challenge it's going to become.
Pawn is now available on DVD and Pretty Little Liars premieres June 11 on ABC Family.