January 23, 2013 1:00pm PT by Philiana Ng
'Pretty Little Liars': Amanda Schull on Meredith's 'Issues,' Motives and Whereabouts
[Warning: Mild spoilers ahead.]
It seemed things were warming between Aria (Lucy Hale) and Meredith, but that quickly went out the window in Tuesday's Pretty Little Liars.
After drugging Aria -- who was sleeping for days as a result -- so she could search for the precious pages from Alison's diary, Meredith took it up 10 notches, knocking her out in the unsettling darkness of the Montgomery house as the Rosewood storm raged on. For Amanda Schull, who called Marlene King's directorial debut "special," it was an experience following fans' reactions to her every appearance in "Misery Loves Company."
"Literally after every moment I came on camera, afterwards, they gasped," she recalled to The Hollywood Reporter.
In the third installment of THR's weekly postmortems with Pretty Little Liars cast and producers, Schull -- who also recurs on USA's Suits -- talks Meredith's Jekyll-and-Hyde behavior, where she ran off to and whether she'll be back before the end of season three.
The Hollywood Reporter: What were the scenes from last night's episode that fans reacted loudly to?
Amanda Schull: After the phone call when Meredith speaks to Aria's mom in the school hallway, where it's tipped off that Meredith is up to something. Literally after every moment I came on camera, afterwards, they gasped. There were a couple of sneaky moments in the storm when the lights are out when Meredith is sort of hovering. There were definitely some shrieks.
THR: Meredith's "nice" act didn't last very long, where one week she's concerned for Aria and the next she's willing to knock her out. Can you talk about playing that sudden turn?
Schull: It was also revealed that she takes medication, so Meredith has a few issues going on. The episode last week, she really was genuinely concerned about what was going on with Byron (Chad Lowe) and the night Ali (Sasha Pieterse) disappeared, and I think that was a genuine concern for him. I think she probably did genuinely open up to Aria in the coffee shop and [Aria] revealed that she had the [diary] pages. It's only afterwards, when Aria takes the pages and Meredith can't find them -- she's covering up for Byron because she realizes she does love this man so much -- that she thought, "Aria's against me; Aria's against us and Aria can potentially hurt Byron" -- and Byron is Meredith's biggest concern.
THR: What is it about Byron that keeps Meredith around?
Schull: Byron was nurturing and loving, and it was probably very exciting and naughty at the very beginning. Byron is probably Meredith's first love and it was a grown-up love. He was an adult and she was still pretty young. Byron occupies this space in Meredith's heart that's never been filled before. He's her true love and she'll do anything for him and it borders on things that other people would not do.
THR: One of the biggest Meredith moments was when she knocked Aria out in the middle of the storm and locked her in the basement.
Schull: She was about to call the police! Come on now! We shot that back in August. Getting to do something totally different than what we had done before was a lot of fun, terrorizing her. We did have a few serious giggling fits.
THR: After all this, Meredith skips town by the end of the episode. What can you hint at in terms of where she went?
Schull: In next week's episode, a few things will be revealed about where Meredith went. Byron does let Aria know what's going on with Meredith.
THR: Will Meredith be back at some point before the end of the season?
Schull: I don't know. [Laughs] Part of the excitement of Pretty Little Liars is you never know where it's going to go -- and that goes for week to week, right down to scene to scene.
THR: What was your favorite scene from last night's episode?
Schull: I really liked watching Troian [Bellisario]'s scenes last night. She was just beautiful and heartbreaking. The audience is going on that journey with her and her naivete with everything that's going on and you see the moment she realizes what's happening ... Again, it's your first true love, to be disappointed on such a grand scale is really emotional.
THR: Is Meredith part of the bigger picture?
Schull: I think Meredith is part of the bigger picture. That's how I see the whole situation. Meredith has always been an outsider, but I think we'll have to stay tuned to see where she goes.
THR: You're also in a few episodes of USA's Suits, and your character, Katrina Bennett, just joined Pearson Hardman.
Schull: Katrina Bennett's at Pearson Hardman now and not everyone's happy about it. I have a really fun episode next Thursday; Katrina and Louis Litt (Rick Hoffman) go head-to-head. That was really fun to shoot.
Pretty Little Liars airs at 8 p.m. Tuesdays on ABC Family.