“Pretty Little Liars”‘ star Janel Parrish answers our pressing finale questions


Last week, TheLinster and I received the most sinister email of our lives: Pretty Little Liars‘ “A” wanted to talk to us. We weren’t allowed to know the identity of the blackmailing, hit-and-running, cupcake-baking, rat-blood-smearing puppet-master; ABC Family just gave us a phone number and told us to call after the PLL finale.

By now, we all know that “A” is Mona Vanderwaal, who has been played to perfection by Janel Parrish over the last two seasons. Parrish, a classically trained musical theater actress, describes herself as “sing-songy,” which fits Mona’s Mean Girl persona perfectly. But when Mona donned A’s iconic hoodie in last night’s finale and very nearly drove Spencer off a cliff, we realized Parrish can also do “awesomely unhinged.”

There were lots of entertainment reporters and bloggers on the call with Janel this afternoon, but she singled out AfterEllen.com as her favorite, saying she loves our site. And the feeling is mutual. Here’s what she had to say about “A.”

On finding out that Mona was “A”:

I think that I kind of had an idea during the pilot because I was reading the books, and Mona was “A” in the books. I asked the producers if I was “A,” and they were being very coy and saying that I could be “A,” but maybe not because we weren’t following the books exactly. So I always put it in the back of my mind that I could be “A.” I found out officially the week that we before the finale, the week that we got our scripts. I read it and I was super excited. It was surreal and really hard not to tell anyone.

On making the leap from regular Mona to dark, twisted Mona:

That was definitely the most challenging part, and also the most fun part, transitioning from this bubbly character I’ve played for two years to this dark psychopath I’ve never played before. But that’s what made it so appealing, that it was a challenge. I just kind of had to let go of this character that I’ve built and create a new one.

On Mona’s role in season three:

I’ve been promoted to a series regular for season three, so you’ll definitely be seeing more Mona … I do know that the season three premiere will take place six months after Maya’s body was found. It’s the second anniversary of Alison’s death. Mona will have been in the Radley Sanitorium for the last six months. She’ll get a mysterious visitor. You’ll find out more about that. There will be lots more answers and connecting the dots.

On working with other cast members in season three:

Interestingly, Marlene has said that characters who haven’t had scenes together will start having scenes together. I’m excited. I think a lot of people in Rosewood are connected in a way the viewers don’t know about.

On Mona’s relationship with Hanna:

Basically, their friendship is ruined. I’d kind of like to see a showdown. [If Mona could take just go nuts on any one character], I’d want it to be Hanna. I’d love to see them have a cat fight. I want Mona and Hanna to meet face-to-face. I’m hoping Marlene gives that to me.

On what she wants to see happen to Mona next season:

I’d love it if she would break out of Radley Sanitorium and just wreak some havoc on Rosewood … It’s a creepy little town with creepy little people in it … But I can honestly tell you I have no idea where it’s going to go. But Mona unhinged would be my choice.

As the conference call was drawing to a close, everyone was frantically trying to get in one last question, which led to my favorite exchange of the afternoon. Someone asked, “If Mona was to get a love interest, which of the current guys would you want to see her with?” Parish laughed and said, “That new guy Duncan is really cute.” Immediately following her answer, they announced that I’d have the final question, so of course I said, “OK, but if Mona were to get a love interest, what girl would you want to see her with?” Without missing a beat, she said, “Well, I mean, come on — Emily.”

Mona Vanderwaal: A serial killer after our own hearts.

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