Wetpaint Entertainment: Did Marlene know who “A” was from day one?
Lisa Cochran-Neilan: I can’t speak going back that far because I was not part of the Pilot. Marlene’s plan for it and where it was going — there was never an intent to follow the books completely. We always knew that. If we only followed the books, your audience is way ahead of you. The point was to take the books and use them as a source, and a backbone, and characters and tone and really keep the mystery going. If you look at the books as a straight line we take a very sort of soft approach and we drift from place to place but we use it as our source.
I would say that Marlene [King, executive producer] probably had a lot of ideas. I’m not sure that Marlene was ever committed [to one suspect] early on.
We read that Ian Harding [Ezra Fitz] laughed when he found out who “A” is. Do you know why?
No, but I think it was a conscious choice, for us to keep the scripts as hard copies only. I really believe that the heart of the fans don’t want to know, they don’t want the spoilers on this one. We felt like because, it’s inevitable [that people would find out early, because] technology has this habit. We really went a couple of extra miles to hold on to this information. The one thing that was fun for all of us, was we kept it from the series regulars. Yes, on the cast read-through everybody was handed the script. So, Ian laughing? Maybe it was the relief of finally knowing, I do remember everyone “ooh”ing and “ahh”ing.
What about the possibility of Alison having a twin [from the books, and from her bedroom photo from Season 2, Episode 13: “The First Secret”]?
There is definitely discussion about, you know there are now ten books out there. There are discussions being made, how far along we are in the books, how much we will incorporate and how we will vary from it. But I’m telling you, come March, you’re all going to be screaming at your TVs.
Oh you’re gonna see Toby [Keegan Allen]. I think everyone loves, well again, that’s Spoby. Marlene and [producer] Oliver [Goldstick] truly do listen to what the fans say and there are times when discussions are had where names will come up and I think that when the audience really positively responds to some of the relationships, it’s safe to say that we will venture to keep certain things alive.
The story will continue to serve the mystery and the suspense and I’m not saying that everyone is always a good person but we try to pay homage to relationships and to what teenage and not-so-teenage girls and guys want to see.
When will we see the character played by Australian actor Lachlan Buchanan?
His part was somewhat towards the end. I’m not sure, because there may be a reference, let’s say.
Who would be your dream PLL guest star?
Oh my gosh, it’s funny, the girls are fantastic. They’re absolutely crazy, I don’t know if the person exists, but they have to have a wonderful sense of timing and comedy. Because there is a tongue-in-cheek, funny sense of wit that is in some of our dialogue and our girls play it. Hanna [Ashley Benson] has her moments. Spencer [Troian Bellisario] is fantastic, she absolutely does it. Lucy [Aria Montgomery] breaks your heart. And Shay [Emily Fields], you think you have it all figured out with her and she, I think her fans are going to go crazy in the finale as well. These young girls are incredibly talented and they hold up with some of these older or more experienced talent. Annabeth Gish [Dr. Anne Sullivan] is wonderful, we love having Annabeth on the show.
Who is the biggest prankster on the set?
They all have their moments and you could name a parent...out of the girls, Ashley Benson, oh my gosh. She really, really enjoys having fun. They all are guilty of giggling. And at any one given time they can be ruthless towards each other, as in, they’re not on camera and the other one is, it’s a little bit contagious. They’re in varying degrees of experience but they’re very generous with their time. They’re family members to the crew. I think they love this ride.
What about Season 3?
Season 3 hasn’t even begun, we haven’t even started to prep it yet. You’re a couple weeks too early. Writers don’t even open their room until the beginning of February. To be honest we’re still cutting the end of [Season 2], we’re just about finished. It’s like, clear your head for a couple of weeks. [Then] the writers come in, production will start shooting April 2 for Season 3 and sometime between when the writers come back and when we start shooting, we’ll get our first look at the overall plan. I think we’re going to leave everyone in March wanting more.
Catch an all-new Pretty Little Liars on Monday, January 30 at 8pm ET/PT on ABC Family.