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[Warning: If you haven’t watched Monday’s finale, do not read further.]
Actress Janel Parrish, who plays Hanna’s former best friend Mona/“A,” had the same reactions viewers had prior to learning that she was the all-knowing tormenter ruining the lives of Aria, Spencer, Emily and Hanna.
“I think I suspected everyone on the show according to the script that I got for the week,” Parrish admitted to The Hollywood Reporter the morning after the big “A” reveal. The unmasking was made with approximately 10 minutes left in the Pretty Little Liars finale, with Mona confirming Spencer’s suspicions after Spencer began putting two and two together – with gum as the catalyst.
“It reminds me a lot of Twin Peaks,” said Parrish. “I love that show and it’s about a small town and everyone has their secrets and no one is safe and everyone could be a suspect in any way. Our writers have done a great job of doing that for Rosewood – and it’s making it a creepy little town.”
Parrish, who was recently promoted to series regular, spoke to THR about what Mona’s new identity means for the coming season, hints at who may have visited her in the hospital at the very end of the hour and fans’ reactions to the surprising finale.
The Hollywood Reporter: You found out that you were “A” before the season was over. What was it like having to keep the secret for months?
Janel Parrish: I’ve heard whispers that it might be me since the pilot. I was really hoping it was going to lead up to. I didn’t know for sure until a week before we filmed the finale when I got the script. Yes, it was really, really not to call everyone I knew to talk about it because it was so exciting to play such a complex character that everyone has been talking about for two years. It was surreal. When we started filming the finale, it got real real fast. It was exciting and Troian [Bellisario] and I had a blast doing all these stunts and everything.
THR: If you could revisit a specific scene from earlier seasons, what would it be and how would you have played it differently knowing what you know now?
Parrish: Interestingly enough, since I heard whispers that I might be “A,” I tried to have that in the back of my mind in every scene that I played as Mona. I had a couple of talks with Marlene King and I asked her if I was playing the scenes right because if that was where they were going with “A,” was there anything I had to do differently and she just said, “No, keep doing what you’re doing. All the pieces are going to come together at the right time.”
THR: You’ve mentioned having conversations with Marlene. Do you have an idea as to who Mona was talking to at the very end of the episode? Did they indicate the person’s identity or is it a faceless person at this point?
Parrish: I have an idea but you definitely will find out in season 3. The premiere will take place six months after the finale, Mona will have been at [the mental institution] for the last six months and you will find out who her mystery visitor and why and why she did what she did and how she did everything. All those questions will be answered in time.
THR: Is it possibly someone who viewers haven’t been introduced to yet?
Parrish: You’ll have to wait and see.
THR: Do you have an idea who was speaking to Jenna in the park? Is it the same person who visited Mona in the red coat?
Parrish: I definitely have an idea, yes, of who she was talking to. Season 3 will definitely be more connecting the dots and fitting the pieces together. Everyone’s been given clues that you don’t even necessarily know you’ve seen yet, so it’ll be coming together in season 3.
THR: Why did Mona attempt to recruit Spencer for the “ ‘A’ team”?
Parrish: Mona does say that she admires Spencer. She’s smart, she’s ambitious and she could use her. She was hoping she could scare Spencer into joining her team and helping her execute her plans. As soon as that didn’t go her way, she turned into a psychopath, which was fun to play.
THR: What scene stuck out for you in the finale?
Parrish: For me it was the last scene of the whole show, when Mona is sitting in the hospital when she gets the visitor because it’s so mysterious and we’re raising more questions for season 3 and starting maybe even a new plotline, new connections that people don’t know about. It’s the beginning of something different so that’s exciting.
THR: What does Mona’s reveal mean for Hanna especially?
Parrish: Their friendship is over. They will never ever have a friendship ever again. It’s obviously heartbreaking for Hanna who trusted and loved Mona and did not know her at all so we’ll more repercussions of that in season 3.
THR: Were you surprised by fan reaction to certain things that happened in the finale?
Parrish: Yea, it’s always cool to read what the fans say. I have a Twitter so I like seeing what the fans tweet and I think the majority of them were very happy with Mona being “A” and are really excited to find out. Some were sad because they liked Mona and trusted her and feel betrayed. It’s interesting. It’s fun to see how involved the fans get and to hear their point of views.
THR: Some fans voiced their disappointment with the “A” reveal since it mirrors the books’ first “A” (though the events that led up to it didn’t necessarily match). What are your thoughts on that?
Parrish: Things are not going to exactly be the way they are in the books. It’s not over for people who think they know where it’s going because of the books. It’s going to go a completely different way. I don’t even 100 percent know where it’s going to go so I’m excited too, to find out what the writers have in store for all of us.
THR: Is Maya’s death somehow connected?
Parrish: Everything in Rosewood is connected in some way.
Pretty Little Liars season 3 premiere airs Tuesday, June 5 at 8 p.m. on ABC Family.
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