'Pretty Little Liars': Ian Harding on Ezra's New Father Status and 'Serious' Chats With Aria
In a chat with THR following Tuesday's episode, the actor says fatherhood will affect his character in a big way: "You're going to see a gradual shift of priorities," Harding told THR.
[Warning: Spoilers ahead from Tuesday's Pretty Little Liars.]
It's fair to say Ezra will have a tough time coming to grips with his new father status.
On the latest episode of Pretty Little Liars, Rosewood High's former high school teacher discovered he had a fathered a child years ago with his high school girlfriend Maggie in an unlikely way: through one of Aria's best friends. For Aria, who had been harboring the secret for a significant amount of time, the trust between the two will be tested.
"It is going to be an obstacle. Now he has to really assess what this means," Ian Harding told The Hollywood Reporter. Rest assured, this won't be the end of one of Pretty Little Liars' beloved couples, "but it is the end of them as we know them," he hinted.
In the fourth installment of THR's weekly postmortems with Pretty Little Liars cast and producers, Harding discusses Ezra's baby bombshell, how this affects his relationship with Aria (Lucy Hale) and his teary breakdown at the end of Tuesday's "Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Inferno."
The Hollywood Reporter: Last night was a huge episode for Ezra. In terms of his relationship with Aria, his baby is a much more serious obstacle than previous issues that they may have faced. How does this affect them in the future?
Ian Harding: It is going to be an obstacle. Now he has to really assess what this means. Especially after last night's episode, he doesn't know what he's going to do. In some ways, yes he's thinking about his relationship with Aria, but in some ways that's kind of the last thing on his brain. Yes he's upset that he was lied to -- or that the information was withheld. There was no wind-up. Usually your wife is pregnant, she gives birth and then you go, "Wow, I'm a father." This was like you're a dad, your child is seven and you haven't been in his life for a few years shy of a decade. He's feeling all kinds of feelings.
THR: So it clearly doesn't matter to him that Aria never actually went through with her intention to tell him about his child?
Harding: It isn't the end of Aria and Ezra, but it is the end of them as we know them. They're going to have some serious chats. Regarding whether Ezra was pissed about Aria's intention, at this point it doesn't matter. The way he found out, especially with Spencer (Troian Bellisario) telling him, was hysterical. He'll get around to that but at this point in his life, he needs to go and see his child.
THR: How does this cause him to shift his priorities?
Harding: He's certainly way more desperate for a job. We're going to see him in the coming episodes and the coming season trying to piece that together because he's got this sudden responsibility. You're going to see a gradual shift of priorities. Ezra is responsible and adult-like, but now you're going to see what his life is when it's not all about him. We're certainly going to see more of Larisa Oleynik, who plays Maggie -- Ezra's baby mama -- so that' going to be a big change for Ezra and Aria.
THR: At the end of the episode, we saw Ezra packing up and heading out to see his child. Will he be gone for a significant time?
Harding: I can't totally remember, but I think I'll be gone for at least one episode unless they've re-cut something. Ezra didn't leave Rosewood; he'll still be in the show for a little while longer.
THR: When he does come back, how different is he?
Harding: Ezra's a level-headed guy and when he sees that he needs to take care of his son, he's also met with what's important to him, and that is his relationship with Aria because he does love her. Maybe you'll see a little bit of overcompensating as a result, like "No, no no, we're going to make this work!" He doesn't throw Aria by the wayside. Aria, Ezra and Maggie are bound to have a moment and Ezra really defends his relationship. He doesn't have any shame.
THR: What was your favorite scene or moment from last night's episode?
Harding: The crying moment was a lot of fun. You try to do a lot of prep and to make sure that it's coming from an honest place and there were moments where I think that happened. And then you realize, wait a minute, it's not a real situation. You're not in Rosewood, Penn., instead you're in Burbank, Calif. but we were so exhausted and Lucy had been awake for hours on end and she basically was barely conscious. She was trying so hard to be present with me but she was delivering her lines like [in a tired-sounding voice] "No, Ezra please don't leave." [Laughs] That was a lot of fun. The moment with Spencer telling Ezra he's a dad was another.
THR: That crying moment was in the script?
Harding: He's supposed to just lose it. Ezra's life has been pretty shitty for the past couple months in Rosewood time. He just breaks, but he can't show Aria that. He can't really let that out, so he says he's gotta go and leaves. The crying had to happen.