We all know and love Tyler Blackburn from his role as Caleb Rivers on Pretty Little Liars and now we get to fall in love with him all over again as another free-spirited hunk in his new web series, Wendy. (PLL fans take note: This is an easy fix for those of us who can’t wait until winter for more of Caleb and Hanna’s [Ashley Benson] adorable relationship.)
The series is a modern day take on the classic story of Peter Pan, and Tyler will play the role of Peter who, in this version, is less about tights and fairies, and more about rocking out. There's even a music video for the series which marks Tyler's first foray into professional recording. (And possibly his first foray into the wet t-shirt genre.)
Wetpaint Entertainment sat down with Tyler for an exclusive interview about Wendy, Pretty Little Liars, and his potential music career.
Wetpaint Entertainment: We know the basic premise of Wendy, but can you tell us some more about the story and your character?
Tyler Blackburn: It's definitely exciting to have a reboot of Peter Pan. That was my favorite Disney movie growing up, so I was really stoked about it. There are similarities, but because it is modern day there are twists to it. Pete's not wearing tights, flying around, chasing a shadow necessarily. He's definitely a little edgier, a little more mysterious, he’s a rock musician. But more than that, he kind of stands for what Wendy is looking for in her life. Kind of what's missing, and he helps guide her through that. She basically has to chose between him and her life back home, with her boyfriend there and all of that. He's not too pushy about it, but at the same time he really wants to get through to her. It's really cool.
You call Pete edgier, and he has the rock thing going on. It sounds like he has a little bit of the bad boy thing going on — kind of like Caleb. How do the characters compare?
Caleb's past is a little more bad boy. Nowadays he's not quite as bad. Pete didn't do bad things, but he is mysterious, and I think that could be bad — what's going on under the surface with him? But he has good intentions. He is who he is, and he is a little bit darker. There are similarities with that label, but they are different, they're very different.
Wendy was also your first experience recording a song. What was that like compared to what you expected?
I was obviously nervous to do it, because I've been a huge music lover for my entire life, and have been singing for as long as I can remember in the shower, in the car, for family, for friends, but this was a chance for me to learn more about my voice and learn about music. It was actually really fun. There were a few moments where I couldn't quite grasp the concept that they wanted me to grasp. I'm such a perfectionist that I did get a little bit frustrated, but at the end I was like, that paid off completely.
What are some of the biggest lessons you took from it, as a musician?
Not as musician specifically, but as a human: Cut yourself some slack. Be willing to hit the sour note to find the good note. Be willing to explore and try new things. I think that's something that everyone needs to know in life. I think we're all so afraid of being imperfect, but it's okay. We're human.
Will we be seeing more music from you in the future? Maybe even on Pretty Little Liars?
A lot of people have been asking about that. I don't know about Pretty Little Liars. I don't know if Caleb's the singer type. It's something I'm definitely open to exploring. I want to do it right though, I want to record music that I love. It's just a completely different part of the entertainment industry. I'm thoroughly enjoying acting. Music is something I've wanted to do for a long time but I'm not rushing to do anything. I'm interested, and I'm exploring it. Hopefully. Hopefully you'll hear more.
What is the music that you love? Either to perform yourself, or to listen to.
Honestly, I think that's going to be part of the exploration, because I love so many different kinds of music. It's about finding your niche. For me, that comes with exploring my vocal range, and what music sounds good with my voice. I just love so many different kinds of music, so I don't know if I want do something more singer-songwriter — like I'm really into this guy I know Justin Nozuka, who's amazing, so amazing, and is a singer-songwriter. But I also like something like the XX, which is a little bit more subdued vocally, but has this amazing beat, and kind of electronica. And I also love a little rock, like Black Peas or even Nirvana, something like that. So I'm not sure exactly what I would do, that's part of the exploration of it all.
Do you have any favorite memories from the filming of Wendy?
We shot a lot of it at the Paramour Mansion in Silverlake [in Los Angeles], which is a historic mansion from the ‘20s. It's very eerie, and in-between setups I would go exploring. It's like a maze in there. This was obviously not on camera, but I love the location because of that. Exploring the catacombs at Paramour Mansion was pretty dope.
Switching to Pretty Little Liars, what can we expect from Caleb for the winter season?
I feel like since Caleb has been on the show, he started off a little more of a hard ass, a little more mischievous, and I think between his relationship with Hanna and the rollercoaster ride that's been, as well as this whole thing with his birth mother, I think he's softening a lot. I think he's definitely come back to Rosewood a little changed. And he is madly in love with Hanna, so his time there is going to be devoted a lot to her. It's mostly that, but I feel like there could possibly be a little bit of mystery solving on his part.
We've been wanting to see him get involved in the "A" mystery, because with all of his phone hacking skills, he should be able to solve the whole thing.
Right? I know! But I think Hanna doesn't want to pull him into it for obvious reasons. But I think she should.
Plus, the writer's are probably thinking, "We can't do that, he knows too much!"
Yeah, exactly. Then I'd probably just get killed!
How is working with Ashley Benson on those more intimate moments? Is it strictly professional, or does it get awkward?
Well, at this point we're pretty used to it. In the very beginning it was pretty nerve-racking. But she's been working for so long, we do keep it pretty professional. But it does get a little funny sometimes, especially when you have fifty people right there watching you. But she's a good kisser. It's fun. Definitely not a bad part of the job.
You've also been working closely Laura Leighton, who has been in the industry a long time. What's working with her like?
It's awesome. She's so great. She's very down-to-earth. She knits in between scenes. She's just very mellow, she's very sweet, I really enjoy her company.
Is there anyone in the cast that you haven't gotten to work with very much, that you'd like to work with more as Caleb?
I've worked a fair amount with all four of the girls, obviously Lucas, and Laura Leighton. I don't really feel like Caleb needs to work too much with the other parents. I'm pretty satisfied with who he deals with. There was that whole thing where he was working with Jenna, and I never had any scenes with Jenna, it was just stated — not that I'd want him to! I'm pretty satisfied.
Do you have any dream guest stars? If you could get anyone to come be on the show.
Johnny Depp. That's my dream. I think that would be pretty amazing.
He could be Caleb's dad.
Yeah! That would be good.
Make that call right now!
I'm sure he'd do it. He's probably in the Caribbean right now, shooting Pirates of the Caribbean 9 or whatever, but I'm sure he can fly out here. [Laughs]
Do you have any favorite shows TV shows to watch?
You know, it's hard for me to really sit down and watch shows every single week. But I definitely do pick up certain episodes of things. But it's hard, like — What? What's going on? I love Boardwalk Empire, I watched the first handful of episodes, I loved that show. And before it went off the air I loved Lost. True Blood I watch sometimes. Honestly, I don't get to watch that much TV, and when I do, I also like Food Network and Discovery Channel. One of my favorite shows is Man vs. Wild. I seriously want to go on an adventure with Bear [Grylls]. For real. He his so dope. There was an episode where he and Jake Gyllenhaal were out and about. I was like, dude, where's my invite?
Are you outdoorsy in general?
Yeah, when the opportunities arise. I actually just went camping. Obviously as a kid you are outdoors a lot, and I just loved it. We would always go to Yosemite, and rock climb and hike to waterfalls, climb trees. I used to climb trees all the time. It was funny — one day on set, for Pretty Little Liars, I didn't know this, but they were looking for me. They were searching for me, and I was in a tree. Finally the PA looked up. He was like "What are you doing? We're waiting for you!" I was like "Oh, sorry." It's fun. Sometimes it's fun to get dirty.
And as Lost fans, we have to ask — what did you think of the ending?
You know. I get it, I get what they were trying to do, but I just feel a little unsatisfied, I'm not going to lie. I understand what they're trying to convey, but I just feel like there were just questions answered. It almost seemed rushed.
You mentioned you like the Food Network. What is your favorite food splurge?
Unfortunately, I don't really watch what I eat. I feel like a splurge a lot. But if we're talking financially, then I go out and get a lot of sushi. I love sushi. But as far as health, I like pasta and also Mexican food. There aren't many foods that I dislike.
Do you have an item that you absolutely can not live without, either in life or on set?
Interesting. I don't know. I definitely have a lot of things that I enjoy. Maybe not an item, but I love having my iPod. I'm always listening to music. I don't know what I would do without music. That's my answer.
If you had a dream role, what would it be?
You know, that's pretty hard, because I want to be the type of actor who can be versatile. I enjoy so many different genres of film and TV. But I really love Tim Burton, and that kind of macabre, little twisted type thing. I would love to do something like that. But I also love action movies. I love really pretty dramas as well, very realistic stories that are maybe a little heart wrenching but are amazingly acted. So I don't really know, I am really open to a lot of things.
One last question: What is the craziest craziest "A" theory you've heard or come up with for "A"?
That it's one of the four girls. I think that would be a really big twist.
We were speculating that it was actually Aria, that would be the biggest twist ever.