Obviously hindsight is 20/20, but looking back on my pre-PLL finale interview with Ian Harding with the new knowledge that he is -- SPOILER ALERT -- "A," the following exchange takes on a whole new meaning.
"Ezra's a little more complex," Ian told me earlier this week in regards to the future of Ezra and Aria. "We're going to find out there are deeper things pulling and pushing him. And what we see is surface. He can only give away so much because there's other stuff going on."
So, what are those deeper things? That's exactly what I asked Ian when I got him on the phone following last night's #WorldWarA reveal!
ETonline: How does it feel to no longer have to keep this big secret?
Ian Harding: It's good. There is something very freeing about it because for several seasons, Ezra was very much a foil to the other characters. We learned a little about him and he propelled the storyline in his own way, but I think there was something about this that suddenly introduces a whole new dynamic to him, and as an actor, that's fun to play with. I'm giddy.
ETonline: When did Marlene King actually tell you Ezra would be revealed as "A?"
Harding: I've known for a while that he was going to take a dark turn. To what extent, I wasn't sure -- and I'm still not sure, honestly, how this will play out. But back in February [she told me] that the show would really need me a lot coming up because of what's [going to] happen with Mr. Fitz. They alluded to the fact there would be a huge dynamic shift for the character, but only a few months ago did I find out how this episode would end.
ETonline: I noticed though that Ezra wasn't wearing a black hoodie...
Harding: It's interesting ... it's a jacket and a baseball cap. He's got his own thing going, but has he been in the hoodie? I'm learning as I go along. I mean, have I worn a red coat with blonde curls? Although that would be interesting: me running around in heels. I'd be a literal red herring [laughs].
ETonline: After the reveal, everyone began to speculate that Ezra might have a twin. What's your thought on that theory?
Harding: Oh! That theory hadn't even occurred to me. I feel like that might be even more far-fetched. I think there's an explanation that's more realistic and/or potentially heart-breaking and scary and sick. For so long, Ezra's been such a good guy. Even though he has this relationship with a minor that's questionable, there's still something so good about him. I like the fact we're seeing more human qualities. Perhaps maybe not everybody would be watching and tracking these girls, but it's exciting.
ETonline: His lair was very high-tech. How much were you impressed with Ezra's skills after seeing that?
Harding: There were certain questions I had for the writers. I mean, he must never sleep! He's grading papers while simultaneously tracking girls from another town. I don't know how he does it, he's Superman. But the response from the writers was, "Well, we think this is his lair..." So it might not be. I think there's something to be revealed when it comes to the whole process of following the girls. If it's his, Ezra's an awesome genius.
ETonline: This now raises a lot of questions about Ezra's initial intent with Aria. What do you think this reveal means for his true feelings for her?
Harding: I don't doubt his feelings are genuine, how they came to be [a couple] I'm unclear on. This could be completely discredited with the coming episodes, but I don't think Ezra's a sociopath. I think he's driven by something. I don't think he was completely manipulating Aria the entire time. I think there's truth and love there, but how that came to be, I don't know. I do know their relationship will take on a new dynamic now that Ezra is the one keeping a secret from Aria. Whatever form their relationship takes.
ETonline: What are you excited for fans to see with the Halloween episode?
Harding: It's going to be a nutty ride. There's so much going on in this episode. We're introducing a few new characters, and there's paranormal things. I'm in it! There's some cool scenes with me and the four girls. I think last year's Halloween episode had a very noir-type feel to it. This one feels like a crazy thriller. In fact, there are several moments I saw that were really quite scary.
Pretty Little Liars returns with the Halloween special on October 22.