And the moment she almost let the secret slip
Spoiler alert: This post contains plot details from the series finale of Pretty Little Liars.
For years, Pretty Little Liars fans wondered if the twin twist would make its way onto the show. And when Jessica DiLaurentis was revealed to have a twin in season 6, they thought they were done. But what they didn’t know was, there was another evil twin lurking overseas.
In the PLL series finale, A.D. was revealed to be Alex Drake, Spencer’s twin who had spent most of her life living in London until she met Wren. Wren then told her all about Rosewood and the Hastings and even helped introduce her to Charlotte, her half-sister. So when Charlotte was murdered, Alex did the only thing she could think to do: She flew to Rosewood and decided to torture the Liars until she identified Charlotte’s killer.
But once Alex got a taste of Spencer’s life, she couldn’t walk away … but thankfully Mona was there to make sure she did (and furthermore, to lock her in a dollhouse for the rest of her life).
EW spoke with A.D. herself, series star Troian Bellisario, about the twist.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I almost just congratulated you on being A.D. which seems odd but maybe works.
TROIAN BELLISARIO: [Laughs] It’s kind of fitting. It’s definitely something that I am very happy to receive congratulations for.
So when Marlene first brought you this in season 5, did she lay it all out or was it just an idea?
It was really just a description of major plot points. She didn’t even say anything about Wren I don’t think. It was more just, “This is what happened to the family so there is this person now here.” I really didn’t know anything about her. Really the character of Alex and her relationship with Wren, none of that was flushed out until, I think for Marlene, leading into the seventh season. So I didn’t get to know where she was from or her backstory until we’d already started to see her. It was a little bit like we were painting her as we were going along, which was fine because one the one hand, she’s impersonating Spencer and you’re not supposed to know that she’s a different person. But it was also really important for me that if she was impersonating Spencer, that there has to be a fully formed character underneath her that’s trying on this personality. So I learned about it a while ago but I really didn’t get the details until probably last year.
In all that time, did you have to keep yourself from starting to try and form a character?
Oh yeah. Marlene had so many things and she was also focusing on Famous In Love, so it was hard to get her to pin [anything] down. I was like, “Just give me a location so I can start to work on an accent!” [Laughs] She would be like, “She’s from the U.K.,” and I was like, “Oh, oh, my god, okay great. Where in the U.K.?” And she’s like, “I don’t know, somewhere in London.” “Marlene, there are so many accents in London, where is she from?” She was like, “I don’t know, she shouldn’t sound like Julian.” I was like, “Okay, so she’s not going to sound like Julian Morris, great.” She’d toss out new things to me. It was a fun game that I got to play and I would bring her back ideas of, “What if she was working at a bar?” And then by the time the finale rolled around, she had gotten really specific with where she wanted Alex to be from and how she wanted her to move and sound like and all that.
I loved that bartending look. That was A+.
[Laughs] I wanted something that was really not Spencer, and I really wanted her to be… I kind of wanted her to be like a punk. That’s what I said. If I could shave my head and still play both roles, I would’ve. I wanted there to be a mohawk, so we did that faux mohawk. She had a chipped tooth. She was just a great character. I was like, “Oh, I could go anywhere with this.”
I wish I’d gotten to see more of this character because there was so much story to unpack. But at the base of it, what would you say was driving her?
I do really think it’s love. You’re right because it was so much story packed into so little time, but we had to make the most out of these scenes. But if you look at them and if you watch them again, all of her reasons are really family. When she is alone and Wren comes out of nowhere and falls in love with her and she and Wren and Archer Dunhill and Charlotte have a life together as couples and friends, she was content. She didn’t need to come back to Rosewood; she didn’t need to find out who Spencer was. She knew she existed but she had her sister and she had someone she was in love with and she had a life. It really wasn’t until Charlotte wanted to finish the game and went back to Rosewood and was killed that she couldn’t let it go. That was when she started to have that obsession with Spencer, particularly because she was like, “Is this the sister that took my sister away? The person responsible for taking away the only family I’ve ever had?” Once she starts to see how good Spencer has it and how much of her life she stole, I think she feels justified in all of her actions, and eventually in assuming Spencer’s life.
That’s why in some ways, her ending isn’t terrible because at least she’s with her mom, whom she didn’t have for a long time.
It’s true! It’s funny because she’s with her mom and that means a lot to her and I think at that point she’s just bummed because Toby picked Spencer over her and she wasn’t able to fool him and she was really pissed about that. I think right now she’s just pissed that somebody else won the game. But it’s definitely the best way that that could have gone. She could be in a cell totally alone in jail but she’s with her mom in a pretty dollhouse.
Life could be worse.
I mean come on, Alex! Life could be worse!
I want to talk about fighting yourself. That tackle looked legit.
Thank you. It was really fun to fight myself. I had amazing doubles and literally could not have done any of this without them, but I also love doing fight scenes, so when they were like, “You’re going to fight yourself,” I was like, “I get to shoot two versions of the same fight scene? Done! Let’s do this!”
I know you talked about how, in a lot of the scenes in which you were Alex pretending to be Spencer, you filmed with the people who didn’t know you weren’t playing Spencer.
Was there ever a moment where someone almost caught you?
There was one moment that was really funny. It was the first time I was ever playing Alex, which is the scene where she wakes up Hanna. I remember I’d been playing with her trying to imitate an American accent and whether she’d mess up. Marlene was like, “No don’t mess up.” But it was funny because I’ll never forget — I leaned over and I think the first line is, “Hanna?” And I think I said [does accent] “Hanna?” And Ashley peaked her eyes up at me like, “What did you just say?” I was like, “Umm, nothing.” When I slipped and everybody looked at me, I was like, “Oh this is what it feels like if you f–k up as Alex. Don’t do this again because if you mess up as Alex, that’s what it looks like.”
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