Keegan Allen plays Toby Cavanaugh on PRETTY LITTLE LIARS which is airing its Season 3 premiere tonight on ABC. Family. A relative newcomer to Hollywood, Allen appeared on an episode of BIG TIME RUSH in 2010, and an episode of CSI last year year. He also appeared on the 2011 New Now Next Awards with fellow PLL cast member Torrey DeVitto to accept the "TV You Betta Watch" award.
We Love Soaps recently spoke with Allen about his career and the new season of PRETTY LITTLE LIARS.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: In real life your reputation is that you’re a mellow guy, a cool guy, really down to earth, a skateboarder, accessible. I’m curious how that kind of reputation influences the way PLL fans interact with you. Do you think?
Keegan Allen: Yes, I think so. I always try to be as open with fans and people that are interested in the show, I always feel like they can actually add the experience for me to give them more of what they want and/or improve my work in the way where people see what they’ve asked for. I really try to serve the audience in that way.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: What's your favorite anecdote about meeting a PLL fan? What encounter stands out as the most touching, surprising or funny?
Keegan Allen: Yes, a very touching one, actually I’ve had so many fan interactions that have been very memorable to me. I always try and connect with everybody as best I can. Our fans are incredible. Like they’re all such good people and I really never met anybody that’s been mean or crazy. There have been a couple of situations where it’s been a little scary, but that was just because of the situation that I was in, like at a certain venue that was little bit intense.
But recently I did at Providence High School, I did the Channel One News Pop Quiz Challenge and I had this girl, Destiny, on my team. She was just so sweet and so adorable and afterwards at one of the autograph signings, she came up to me and she said, “Can I please sing a song for you?” She stood there in front of everyone that was waiting to get their autograph signed by us, and she sang this amazing song for me. She had flown all the way from Chattanooga, Tennessee, because she was like so excited to be part of this and to see me. But she like prepared the song for me and I thought it was just amazing and touching and so adorable.
Anything is possible in Rosewood, and we always get some pretty interesting pairings on the show, too. So while Toby’s main attraction so far has been with Spencer and Emily and Jenna, are we going to get to see any new relationships develop between Toby and any of the other characters this season?
Keegan Allen: It’s really great that you ask something like that. We all try to interact with each other as much as possible on the show. Unfortunately our storylines never really crossed that intensively, but this season we do, a lot characters end up being around and/or continuing the storyline with other characters that normally they wouldn’t be, so yes.
There’s certainly a tie between the TV series and the book series, but one major difference is that Toby is dead in the book series after only two books. So in playing a character that literally has no more storylines in the books to take from, it is particularly exciting for you see where the writers get to take Toby?
Keegan Allen: Of course, it’s always the challenge, especially since that’s true as well as he commits suicide. Originally this character only had a six episode arc, and the writers have done an amazing job creating the storyline, and picking from different parts of the book that they really wished that Toby was there for and seeing what would happen.
So, yes, me, I always come to the table and I’m like what could possibly happen next, because it is unwritten material that they are coming up with themselves and it’s always exciting.
How is the reveal of Mona going to affect Toby?
Keegan Allen: How is it going affect Toby? It affects Toby and everyone else in this close circle in a way where now instead of it being what it was before where no one really knew and everybody was very aloof to the possibility of someone in that circle being “A”. Now it’s just raised a lot more questions and everybody is a lot paranoid as to how it slipped under everybody’s noses that Mona was “A” this entire time.
So I feel like it just might make Toby a little bit more weary pressing for answers, possibly going out of his way to find out more information, because he did go and find out from Dr. Sullivan because they were keeping him in the dark. Now I guess it’s affected him in the way where he just wants to know more and find out why he was kept out of this for so long.
Is there anything you can tease us about our Spencer/Toby relationship this season?
Keegan Allen: Yes, it is going to be an interesting ride, an interesting ride in the relationship; and Toby has evolved tenfold as the character that we knew him from Season 1 where he was this timid, off-put kind of outcast. Everybody didn’t like him, and we forget really quickly that he was tried for the murder of Alison DiLaurentis. Now he’s like this carpenter and like has a girlfriend and it’s an on and off thing. So it’s definitely going to go through the roller coaster that every relationship does go through, but it’s very rewarding and the fans won’t be disappointed.
How did you manage to land your role in PRETTY LITTLE LIARS?
Keegan Allen: Well, I landed the role by going on an audition, and I skated through the audition and I was wearing like a beanie. It’s still like an ongoing joke between all of us that I went in with a hat, because that’s a huge no-no in an audition because you can’t really see your face. I’d pulled it up over my eyes and I delivered the scene, and I actually just watched my audition tape like a couple weeks ago. It was really crazy to see how much the character has evolved and changed.
But, yes, I went in and I auditioned and originally, I went in for the role of Wren Kim who ended up being played by Julian Morris, who does an amazing job. He is very British. I went in as a British person and I could not pull it off, but, yes, that’s how I ended up getting involved.
Is there any special preparations that you have to do to play your role as Toby?
Keegan Allen: I pulled a lot from interesting people from my past that were very introverted and creative and intense as Toby is like an artist with wood. He’s a carpenter and he does really well with like lumber work and moving stuff. But he can also make beautiful intricate like chairs and things, so I like pulled a lot from creative people that I knew, dark people that I knew and people in high school that nobody talked to that were really, really cool people and ended up turning into really cool people later in life. I pulled those kinds of personalities out of them and tried to shadow them, which was a really big challenge, because I’m definitely outgoing and a total 180 of the character.
Do you have any favorite memories from the set that you can share?
Keegan Allen: I have so many great memories, but one that really stands out was, I think probably from Steven Warren is, there was a homecoming episode and it was just really fun to shoot that. I loved doing the action stuff, so I got like, he pushed through all this slack. It was just really cool memory, but it felt really cool. That was one of my favorite memories.
All of our fans have been asking will Toby’s abs be making more cameos in the upcoming season?
Keegan Allen: If it means I’m going to have my shirt off, yes, possibly more comes off.
What was the hardest part about bringing Spencer and Toby’s relationship back in a believable manner?
Keegan Allen: The hardest part of that, well, it really wasn’t hard at all. Me and Troian are really, really good friends and the writers have written the storyline as such. We definitely all pull a lot from our like own personal experiences in relationships, so just mirroring reality, mirroring what we see others going through, it was actually pretty easy to pull a believable reconciliation and also give it like a little bit of like of Hollywood twist to it as Marlene came to the mat the last episode. It was just the Hollywood Clark Gable feel of it to bring the families and bring everybody back into that world.
You’ve mentioned before that you wanted Toby to start sleeping with Spencer. How do you feel that that will impact their relationship?
Keegan Allen: Oh, it always does. I mean like I just think they really love each other. Here are two characters that really love each other; they would do anything for each other. Introducing a sexual relationship is always intense and interesting and fascinating to see where that turns and where that goes.
So I think it’s more so for the dramatical feel of the whole project itself of PRETTY LITTLE LIARS. I think that that’s what the show deals with is teenagers growing up, coming of age and dealing with murder and like dealing with all of these things that go with it. It’s just some extra added boat load of emotions that come with that, so it would be just interesting to see how that plays out.
Will we be able to see maybe your parents this season.
Keegan Allen: I’ve been wondering about that myself and it would be really cool. There’s a huge storyline. You have to understand, there’s a huge storyline underneath there just in itself and I’m sure that that’s bubbling. I think that’s just something that will eventually get touched on, because it is such a deep layer of information beneath Toby, as with any character that we haven’t seen their parents in the flesh yet.
There’s so many issues that go on behind the scenes with different families, so it would be so amazing to see that, yes, definitely and to see where it comes from, because there’s a lot of drama that goes on behind closed doors in that household with Jenna and with—that just would be a crazy house, so it would be really cool to see all that.
How will you interact this season with Jenna? Is there anything you can spoil now that she can see?
Keegan Allen: Yes, now that she can see, it’s like Toby is trying to stay as far away from her as possible, even to the point of where he might even have his own place and just leave because he can’t do it, because he can’t be around someone that now has that weapon of sight.
Which couple do you think has a better chance of making it for the long term, Spencer/Toby or Hanna/Caleb?
Keegan Allen: Truthfully I feel like it’s up in the air, because both couples will go through a rollercoaster of emotions that we have no idea what will happen. But I’m always Team Haleb, and I’m always Team Spoby, so it would be really upsetting to see either one of those not last, because they feel like, you know, both of them are pretty much in love. I hope that none of them end, but if I had to call it, I would hope that Spencer and Toby would stay together.
We run a Disney based site and you’ve made it pretty clear that you’re about a 180 from your character. So if you’re really just like the rest of us, have you been to Disney World or Disneyland, and do you like it?
Keegan Allen: Yes, and I love Disneyland. I haven’t been to Disney World unfortunately.
If Toby had a choose in a life or death situation, who would he choose do you think; Jenna or Spencer?
Keegan Allen: Oh, definitely Spencer. I actually went over this it’s so funny you asked that. I went over this with one of the writers the other day and we were talking about that. He had already saved Jenna from a burning fire that was caused by Alison throwing in a fire pack or whatever and blinding Jenna. So he’s already done his, he’s paid his dues to Jenna. He’s done with her. She manipulated him and used him like to the point of like squeezing a sponge to its last drop. He’s done everything he could for her, so I feel like he would definitely—of course, any circumstance that he would grab up Spencer in a heartbeat if anything was going to hurt her or take her life for sure.
If Rosewood was to have a zombie apocalypse, who would you think would be survivor and the first to die?
Keegan Allen: I think the survivor would definitely be Spencer. I’m sure that she has a world of knowledge about zombie apocalypses. I bet she has a zombie survival kit in her room like just in case. She’s like the one, is it out of everybody in Rosewood, or just the four girls that would be the first to die?
I’d say between the four girls the first to die.
Keegan Allen: I would definitely think that Hanna would be the first to die, because she would be like oh my God, I can’t do it and like freak out and then like run down a dark hallway. Also I feel like Emily might be another survivor, because she’s really athletic, so she’d just like get over everything and maybe run away.
What about the guys?
Keegan Allen: Who would be the one that survived? I feel like, like the one survivor I mean, truthfully it’d be tough because I think it’s Toby that would survive because he would be like, he would be crazy and pull out some crazy like battle gear or something. I think that the person that would be the first to die would be probably Lucas. Poor Lucas. Caleb, he would just like pick up his gear and pull it up on the Internet or something and be like, oh, I found it.
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Kevin Mulcahy Jr. is a Harvard alum who is currently working as a staff contributor at welovesoaps.com writing theater and web series reviews as well as other in-depth features. Read all his Web Series reviews here. To contact Kevin, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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