'Twisted' Is a 'Completely Different Animal,' Says Star Avan Jogia
The "Victorious" alum previews the new ABC Family drama for THR: "I feel like I'm getting back into a format I'm comfortable with."
ABC Family's busy summer continues with murder mystery Twisted.
The one-hour drama revolves around Danny Desai, a teen who has recently reconnected with his two female best friends from childhood following a stint in jail for murdering his aunt when he was younger. He becomes the prime suspect when a fellow student is found dead in her home following a party.
For star Avan Jogia, best known for playing the kind, laid-back Beck Oliver on Nickelodeon's popular teen comedy Victorious (2010-13), Twisted is a return to his roots. "It's a completely different animal," he tells The Hollywood Reporter of the summer drama. "I feel like I'm getting back into a format I'm comfortable with. It's still a teen-centric show, though it skews a little older."
Jogia, who has nearly a million followers on Twitter, credited his experience on Victorious with helping him navigate the rocky waters of the business. "I learned a lot of functional things," he says. "How sets worked, how big companies worked, business stuff." It's a good thing, as ABC Family has slotted Twisted following its buzziest scripted series, Pretty Little Liars. (In March, the cable network offered a sneak preview of the pilot, following the Pretty Little Liars finale.)
As ABC Family readies the launch of Twisted, Jogia talks to THR about the challenges of playing a dark character, how his Victorious experience prepared him -- and whether romance is in the cards.
The Hollywood Reporter: How did Twisted come to you?
Avan Jogia: I had just finished shooting Victorious and didn't know if I wanted to do TV. I wanted to see if I could pursue movies and give that a shot. I was reading movie scripts, but I wanted a good character to play, something I could sink my teeth into, and I wasn't finding that at that time. I read this script and found that Danny was a unique character and there were a lot of opportunities, if [the writers] wanted, to go in a cool direction.
THR: What is it about this character that attracted you to the role, or that you found interesting?
Jogia: Danny uses his charm as a defense mechanism for something else. I don't know if that's something that's really, really dark -- that he is a crazy, sociopathic murderer, or something lighter than that -- but he is hiding secrets that are out of his control. Danny wants to protect the ones he loves. He'll do literally anything. That's a big part of it.
THR: Did you learn anything on Victorious than helped you on Twisted?
Jogia: I learned a lot of functional things: how sets worked, how big companies worked, business stuff. You have to remember it's equal parts art and business. A lot of the time it's a lot less art than I'd like, but it's important to remember that it's a business. I like to shadow people and pick people's brains. I learned how [the network executives] think about the product and the show, and it's helped me and informed me going into Twisted.
THR: What's the most difficult thing about playing a character that is surrounded by darkness?
Jogia: The network that it's on [ABC Family] makes it a little bit more digestible, I think. But I take things to the extreme too; I probably dig deep into things when it's not necessary. If anything, it's bringing to light that there are a lot people who have sociopathic tendencies that I've met -- and that doesn't mean they go around murdering people. I did a lot of research also on juvie and what that does to a person.
THR: How dark does the show go?
Jogia: I don't know. At this time, it's different than anything that ABC Family's had on their network for sure. Whenever you have a teenage murderer, no matter what you do, it's going to be dark. It's still not HBO or Game of Thrones. I'm concentrating on approaching every scene [by finding] the human connection and story instead of forcing a square peg into a round hole.
THR: What can you say about Danny's dynamic with his old friends, Lacey (Kylie Bunbury) and Jo (Maddie Hasson)?
Jogia: Danny had these two best friends before he committed the murder. I think the reason he wants them back so badly when he comes back is they represented the normalcy. They were a representation of normal life. He has a special connection to both of them. It's interesting when he gets back, as he's turning into a man, there are different relationships that become apparent between the three of them -- and his feelings have changed too. Whether it's romantic or not, I don't know where they're going to go.
THR: I was going to ask if he has a love interest -- or is that a mystery to you?
Jogia: It's still a mystery to me. I can only tell you that we've explored a romantic relationship on the show.
THR: How would you describe Danny's relationship with his mother, Karen (Denise Richards)?
Jogia: He almost becomes the husband. Now that his father's gone, he becomes the man of the house. Their relationship is strained pretty severely. Even before the murder, I don't think Karen was exactly psyched to have a kid, and Danny knew that. I think moving forward in the series, you get to see him almost parent her a little bit. He becomes the authoritative figure in the house, but also, Karen starts to show her colors and how much she cares about Danny. You'll have to wait and see how Danny feels about that.
THR: Without revealing too much, will the mystery that's introduced in the premiere be solved by the end of the season?
Jogia: I'd imagine that they're not going to leave the season without a bunch of cliffhangers.
Twisted debuts at 9 p.m. Tuesday on ABC Family.