'Pretty Little Liars': Janel Parrish on Mona's Death and "Heartbreaking" Aftermath

Pretty Little Liars Janel Parrish Troian Bellisario - H 2014
ABC Family

Pretty Little Liars Janel Parrish Troian Bellisario - H 2014

[WARNING: Spoilers ahead from Tuesday's summer finale of Pretty Little Liars, "Taking This One to the Grave."]

Still reeling from the big Pretty Little Liars death?

The summer finale of ABC Family's hit drama saw the death of Mona Vanderwaal, a devious Rosewood resident whose time on PLL had its highs and lows — from being the first "A" to helping the Liars battle Alison and "A." But she was becoming a dangerous player in "A's" game, coming dangerously close to piecing the puzzle together. In her final moments, Mona told Aria about her belief that Alison was "A," a revelation that sealed her fate.

Following the episode, actress Janel Parrish talks to The Hollywood Reporter about Mona's unlucky death, why she was initially "scared" about the development and what the future flashbacks will likely explore.

Executive producer Marlene King told me that Mona's death was something that was in the works for more than a year. When did she tell you that Mona would die?

I was told the day before the table read. She gave me the call. I always heard rumors that when a series regular gets killed from a show, they're going to get the call from the creator. So when I heard that Marlene was on the other line, I was like, "Oh my god, is this my time? Has it come to an end?" She was so sweet and so wonderful about it. She was like, "Hey, I want you to know that this is happening — you are getting killed. But don't freak out. You still have a job. You're not leaving the Pretty Little Liars family, you're just going to be the flashback girl like Sasha [Pieterse] was for three years."

I was so relieved because I thought I was getting killed off my show and that was it and that was my last episode. That would've been so sad because I love being a part of the show and I love Mona. I've played her for five years now, and it would have been so sad to part with her. I parted with "alive Mona" but I'll still be haunting Rosewood in some flashbacks.

What was your initial reaction to hearing the news?

At first, I was mostly scared because I thought my time on the show was done. But when she told me that I still had a job and I would just be Mona in a different capacity on the show, I was actually excited. I think it's going to be a fun new twist on the show. I'm always up for a challenge, and I think it's great to be a part of the new mystery and just to be on the show in a different way.

I'm sure you've thought about Mona's death scene over the years. Was how she died in last night's episode what you expected?

Yeah. Over the years if I ever thought Mona would die, I think she would die that way. She would have died in a fight and she would have died trying to make a mark on "A." I don't think she would've died without a pretty nasty fight. From the looks of her house, it looks like she fought pretty hard. She's fierce till the end.

Do you think there was more story to mine for Mona in the present?

I'm not worried about that. I do think that in flashbacks people will get a lot of backstory with Mona and I think that's going to be exciting. I'm hoping they'll show more about her life with her mom because that was really the first time anyone's seen her mom and showing that, you'll learn more about Mona. I'm hoping they'll show why she became "A" and why she did the things she did and all the things that happened in between. The flashbacks will be really, really great for fans and for me to get answers finally.

It sounds like Marlene has told you a little bit of what those flashbacks would entail, or is this all speculation?

No, this is totally just me thinking about what's going to happen. I actually don't know what the flashbacks are going to be like.

Mona was starting to redeem herself. Do you think she would have been on the Liars' side for good if she had survived the finale?

I think she did redeem herself in the finale. She came through, she helped them, she won and then she was murdered. That's the saddest thing about how Mona died — you finally start to like her and then you're like, OK, maybe this girl really is good and she is trying to help. She really does want to feel like she deserves their trust and she finally thinks she wins and then she dies. That's sad!

We didn't see the face of Mona's murderer, but fans were already speculating as to who the blonde was. Do you have any idea who it is?

Well you know how it is on-set. Everything is held close to the vest. We don't really know who "A" is and we don't really know this and we don't really know that. In speculation, it looks just like Alison's hair and I think that's what fans are definitely thinking. That's definitely what I'm thinking and what I was thinking while filming the episode. It would really make sense. That will all be revealed. As far as what it does look like, it looks like Alison killed Mona.

How do you think Mike will react when he finds out about Mona?

You're going to see his reaction and it's heartbreaking. He's such a little puppy— he's so cute! I do think their romance was very sweet and very real. It adds to the sadness of her demise. (Laughs.)

Spencer's reaction?

It's going to shock everybody. With Mona's death comes a lot of sadness — no matter how people felt about Mona. It's a sad thing. She was a bullied girl in high school who was trying to find her footing and figure out who she was and where she stood with everything.

What will you miss most about Mona in the present day?

I've gone through a lot of phases on the show as far as her character arcs. They've been insane and intense and extreme. I don't think I'll miss any of it though, because I think it'll still be present in flashbacks. It's not just going to be one Mona that's in flashbacks; it's going to be Mona in her entirety. I think you'll see flashbacks of different parts of her personality and all those different arcs will all be shown. I'm not sad about missing anything. She's still very present in Rosewood.

Pretty Little Liars returns in October on ABC Family.

Email: Philiana.Ng@THR.com
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