Moderator We’ve certainly seen a really great evolution for Spencer’s character since Season One. Not even just with her family, but of course through relationships with her friends, the Liars, and of course with Toby as well. I was wondering if you can talk a little bit about the evolution of Spencer through those three aspects?
T. Bellisario It’s funny, it’s actually kind of difficult for me to speak about her evolution just because I’m steeped in it and I just feel like there is so much more that she can do. I think Spencer’s biggest evolution has been being able to let go in terms of she’s learned through getting her friends back how to keep friends and how to be supportive. I think Spencer because of the family that she grew up with has a very strong and black and white sense of what is right and what is wrong and she sometimes thinks that she can control other people.
She’s learned to kind of just be supportive of her friends and not let that get in the way of their friendship. I still think she has a long way to go with that in terms of being judgmental of other people and I think her biggest lesson in that was her relationship with Toby. She really ran the gamut as far as thinking that he was the one who killed Alison; he was the one who might be involved with A, and he was their mortal enemy and now there is nobody she holds closer than her friends and Toby.
Moderator Do you think that Spencer tries to put herself away from the girls or tries to hide who she is a little?
T. Bellisario I don’t know, I guess I feel like their relationship is a myriad of different things. Of course, when you consider it from a bunch of different aspects, I think when you consider Spencer’s coolness factor in the group she’s probably a bit of a pariah. As I’m coming to realize throughout the script, Spencer is really the sort of Nancy Drew of the group.
She’s the one who’s always got a dedication to and she kind of plays that by default especially because of the things that are going on in her family with Melissa and Ian, but there is a lot of—with Aria and her relationship with her family, the family’s problems that are going on, but also her relationship with Ezra. Hanna is struggling with relationship issues and finding herself within the relationship with Caleb, and also the relationships with her mother and father. It’s the same thing with Emily.
Spencer definitely, I think, has these familial issues that there is something that she’s not willing to let go of in regard to Alison’s death. I think Spencer, because she’s a control freak, she’s the one who takes A the most harshly. She cannot stand having someone play her like a puppet. I think in that sense that’s where Spencer kind of fits in with the group, is that she’s always the one who’s willing to run out into the woods in the middle of the night if it means finding another clue. Where I think some of the other girls might just want to forget about it, leave it alone, let’s not play this game anymore and that she just can’t let that go.
Moderator How are you personally different than or similar to your character?
T. Bellisario Well, Spencer and I are very similar in that when I was Spencer’s age I was very studious. I was the valedictorian of my class; my academics meant everything to me and my family put a lot of pressure on me to do well, but it was also mostly coming from myself. I felt that I had to be the best and the brightest at everything otherwise I wasn’t worth anything.
I think Spencer definitely feels that and that’s something that I have grown out of. I’ve only grown out of it with age and by having life experiences and that’s more important to me. Spencer hasn’t had those life experiences yet. She’s truly steeped in the middle of trying to be perfect in every way. I would say that that’s the biggest similarity and difference between Spencer and I. I hope one day Spencer will get to go through the sort of life-rocking experiences that I have that make you re-evaluate what’s really important and get off your own back a little bit.
Moderator I have a question submitted on Facebook by a fan. They wanted to know if you knew who A is or is that being kept secret from the cast by the producers?
T. Bellisario Oh, my gosh, I feel like I could answer this question a million times and nobody would ever believe me. They will not tell us who it is. To be honest I don’t even think they know who it is. I don’t mean that they don’t have a few different choices, but every time I speak to them they are keeping their options as open as possible. I think that—maybe Marlene, our executive producer and our creator of the show has a hard fast choice and she’s now working towards that, but I remember there was a time in the writer’s room where they told me she has six different options for people that could be A.
Moderator Spencer has been in so many life-threatening experiences - how do you, as an actress, mentally prepare for these kinds of scarier scenes?
T. Bellisario It’s quite hard, because to be honest we’re always having our lives threatened. There is always something that if it were actually happening to you, if the things that were happening to the girls were happening to me I feel like I would just need a break and I would ask my parents to commit me to a mental institution and just leave me there for my own safety.
You can’t play that all the time. There are moments when A threatens the girls and it’s just a nuisance and there are moments when A threatens the girls and it throws Spencer into a rage. It’s like as human beings we don’t ever have one reaction so I think it’s determining where we are in the story, what was the last time A tried to get under our skin, what are the stakes at this present moment and really connecting to all of those things to determine is this truly a scary moment. Or is this a moment where I completely lose my self-composure or is this a moment where all four of us are in the jungle and we’re all being scared and if I go to pieces everybody else goes to pieces so Spencer has to be stronger.
That’s what gets you out of the moment of oh, my God, I just have to feel scared again because I might jump off a cliff if I thought that that was the only way that I was going to be doing this acting for however many seasons this show is going to be running. It’s not just about that, it’s about what are the circumstances? Am I completely alone? How much fear do you show when you’re alone? Is it more, is it less? It’s those things.
Moderator What do you do when you are not filming? I know that you spend a lot of time with the other girls and I was wondering if there was anything that you guys like to do when you have free time on the set?
T. Bellisario Oh free time on the set. For me personally, I try to sleep if there is any free time because we’re all really tired all the time pretty much so sleeping is a big thing. I also try to write and to just to work on other projects that I am trying to keep afloat while I’m doing this.
Moderator Spencer has a very defined sense of style - what’s an outfit we’ll never see her wear, something that you can think of that is just like not Spencer at all that you would think would be fun?
T. Bellisario Oh, that’s hard, maybe a giant clown suit. I feel Spencer can go so many different ways. I feel like Spencer could totally traipse into Aria’s closet and put something on and be a bad girl for a day. She could even go into Hanna’s closet, probably less into Hanna’s closet, but she can always—in some aspects she dresses down and she is a little bit more casual like Emily.
Spencer trades hats very easily. She can go very high-brow very prim and proper or she can just be wearing like literally sweats after field hockey and just be the same girl—that’s what’s kind of cool about Spencer is that it’s not really her style that defines her, Spencer defines her style all the time.