'PLL' Star Previews Spencer's Long Downward Spiral
By Jarett Wieselman
If Pretty Little Liars were rocked by Spencer's emotional breakdown after learning Toby was on The "A" Team, they might want to brace themselves for what comes next because according to Troian Bellisario, it's going to get much, much worse before it gets better. I mean, "if" it gets better.
That was the real talk Troian laid on me when we talked about the complete physical and emotional breakdown Spencer suffers in the coming weeks.
ETonline: It's been an intense few weeks for Spencer -- how have you enjoyed what PLL's given her to do so far this season?
Troian Bellisario: This season has by far been my favorite. It's been so challenging and exhausting and great -- just fantastic because we really see Spencer in a completely different light. She falls through the cracks in a way that none of the girls ever has. What's fun for me is we deliver the kind of stuff you want from PLL -- like, there's an upcoming episode when I tackle Mona, and when that moment happens, you WANT it to happen.
ETonline: Let's talk about that scene -- what was it like to film?
Bellisario: So much fun! Mona's bating Spencer and bating Spencer and originally it was written that Spencer snaps and lunges across the table. But Mona is really going after Spencer in that scene, and I was thinking, these girls have never been able to retaliate, so I had to launch myself over a table and take out poor Janel [Parrish, who plays Mona], who is like 5' 1" and I'm like 5 ' 7" so I already had a couple of inches on her. And in the moment, I let out this Tarzan scream and I scared Janel so bad. And I think that's the take they ended up using [laughs]. But I knock her out. I take her down ... hard.
ETonline: What do you like about what Toby's revelAtion does to Spencer?
Bellisario: After somebody loses everything, they are capable of doing anything. All the girls have been dealing with so much -- their dreams have been crushed and there's someone stalking them, making them afraid to make a single move in their life. But when you have someone who is as slow to trust as Spencer, and you take away the one person she's fallen in love with, it's kind of like a Phoenix moment. She burns herself to the ground and rises up out of the ashes. By the end of the season, Spencer is someone completely new and there is no going back. When she finds out about Toby, it's not the end of her hitting rock bottom -- there are about 7 more basements for her to fall through before she actually realizes what's going on and how to handle it.
ETonline: And it looks like we start to see her stress manifest physically, right?
Bellisario: Absolutely. And it's funny because I don't know how to do my own hair and makeup, I'm a horrible girl, and every day they do about 90 minutes of hair and makeup to have us looking TV presentable. But as Spencer begins to unravel, they started to leave my hair as it was when I showed up, and there was slowly less and less makeup. So by the time she's at her lowest point, I'm pretty sure I was just walking in from bed. It was this freeing, but insulting moment. I mean, their definition of "crazy rock bottom Spencer" is just what I look like in my normal life!
ETonline: I feel like PLL entered a darker phase with the Halloween episode -- what excites you about that?
Bellisario: As an actor on a show with any level of camp and fantasy, there's always the worry that nothing will stick because everyone will always be OK. But, we have to be honest and truthful to the audience so if we're really going to talk about murder and child abuse and coming out, we need to give these characters the respect they deserve. And if they're going to take away the love of Spencer's life, we need to go full hog into that because otherwise it's just like a "Oh ... she's sad." I am really proud to see that the writers went there -- I mean, you will watch a person unravel for an entire season and see her personality change as a result of it.
ETonline: What are you excited for the fans to see with Spencer's spiral this season?
Bellisario: I'm excited for the fans to experience how deep the rabbit hole goes. The writers kept telling me, "This is Spencer's breakdown episode." And we'd shoot it, and then the next week, they'd say, "OK, this week, you're breaking down through the breakdown." And then it was breaking through the basement of the breakdown. I mean, it just keeps going down and down and down. It's this never-ending rabbit hole. I mean, this chick needs help.
ETonline: Help, like in the sense that Spencer might get checked into Radley Sanitarium at some point?
Bellisario: I will neither confirm nor deny what happens to Spencer... [laughs]
Pretty Little Liars airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on ABC Family.