In 2017, “Pretty Little Liars” wrapped up seven seasons of mystery and signed off the air with a polarizing ending. If you still need a “spoiler alert” warning, you aren’t truly a fan, so it’s fair to remind everyone that Troian Bellisario’s character Spencer turned out to have an evil twin.
“PLL” fans had a lot of feelings about the big reveal. Some liked the evil twin thing; some compared it to a predictable soap opera twist.
Two years later, Bellisario understands why the ending left some viewers feeling unsatisfied.
“It’s so funny because I knew about it so many years in advance that that’s always where it was going, but I understand that a lot of people felt very sideswiped by it,” Bellisario told Variety at the premiere of her upcoming film, “Where’d You Go, Bernadette.”
“I wish we could have actually brought it in more,” Bellisario added of Spencer’s evil twin. “But we didn’t want any spoilers, and we didn’t want people to catch on. I do wish we could have laid the groundwork a little bit more.”
Bellisario says that over the past two years since “Pretty Little Liars” ended, when she watches shows and doesn’t like the series finale, she sympathizes with the “Liars” fans.
“I’ve watched certain shows and when they’ve ended, I’ve been like, ‘F that ending! How could they do this?!’ So I guess I could understand. But at the time, I was like, ‘Guys, it ended how it ended. You got seven years of ‘Pretty Little Liars.’ Deal with it. If you didn’t like it, you didn’t like it, so I’m sorry.’
She continued, “When you’re really attached to characters, I think the whole point is just that you don’t want it to end — there is no ending in the world that would have satisfied the ‘Pretty Little Liars’ fans. It would have been like the third ‘Lord of the Rings.’ So, understanding that there’s no satisfaction you could have possibly gotten, then it’s like, ‘You take what you get. Sorry!'”
Since “Liars” ended, Bellisario has become a mother and has continued her work behind the camera, as a producer, writer and director. She wrote and starred in her own film, 2017’s “Feed,” and then directed episodes of Freeform’s “Good Trouble” and Marlene King’s “Famous In Love,” plus directed a short film while pregnant (“that was really fun,” she quips). Bellisario also reveals to Variety that she’s set to direct another episode of “Good Trouble” this fall.
As for her on-screen work, she’s geared toward more mature roles, like “Where’d You Go Bernadette” in which she stars opposite Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett.
“It was so much fun to be in ‘Pretty Little Liars’ and to be in that world and explore female friendships. I’m more excited to focus on more adult storylines,” Bellisario says. “Particularly now, being a new mom, I’m just really excited to explore more about the relationship of a mother to a child, and taking on more responsibility and even meatier roles — it’s so funny to say that because Spencer was such a wild role — but I’m looking for something now that’s a little bit more subtle.”
Bellisario says she was a fan of Maria Semple’s book and she jumped at the chance to work with Blanchett and director Richard Linklater in the movie adaptation.
“He is an absolute legend and I’ve always been a fan of his work. And Cate Blanchett is the greatest of all time,” she raves, adding that Blanchett taught her to be continuously curious on set. “The thing that was amazing is here was Cate Blanchett, who seems like she just comes in and it’s magic, but we got to be in a rehearsal period together and she was just so curious and asking so many questions like, ‘Why do you think she does this? Why do you think she does that? Why would she do that?’ I loved that she wasn’t like, ‘I know everything and I’ve got this.’ She really allowed herself to be exploratory, and that was so inspirational to me.”
While Bellisario has moved past “Pretty Little Liars,” she isn’t ruling out returning to the spinoff, “The Perfectionists,” in some capacity.
Bellisario reveals that she was set to direct an episode of the Freeform series, which stars “PLL” alums Janel Parrish and Sasha Pieterse, but she had just given birth when the new season started, so scheduling didn’t work out. “That would be a total blast,” she says of directing. Appearing on-screen is less likely, though not impossible.
“I don’t if it would make sense necessarily because that world is so different, but you never know,” she says of guest-starring on “The Perfectionists.”. “Janel and Sasha are such great actresses that it wouldn’t be hard to act across from them again. It would be so much fun. But I don’t know if Spencer would fit into that world, it’s kind of their own thing, so I don’t know.”