Tyler Blackburn Talks Pretty Little Liars Season 2
The ABC Family series Pretty Little Liars returns with Episode 2.20: CTRL: A, which airs Monday, February 13 at 8 PM ET. New series regular Tyler Blackburn, who plays Caleb Rivers, recently held a conference call to discuss the new episode and the rest of Season 2. Here's what he had to say below.
You're a series regular now on Pretty Little Liars. How does that make you feel?
Tyler Blackburn: I am very, very excited. I just loved every minute of working on the show, so the fact that I can work on it more and more, it's such a good feeling. I am over the moon.
Do you happen to know who A is yet?
Tyler Blackburn: Well, obviously I can't say a whole lot about that, but I can tell you that by the end of this season A will be revealed. So yes, I do know. I do know, but I can't give any hints or anything.
What was it about the show that piqued your interest to want to be a part of it?
Tyler Blackburn: Well, when I first auditioned and I got the sides for Caleb, I just thought he was a great character. I got some backstory about Hanna's character and she was sort of a spitfire, and I just felt like Caleb was able to keep up, and I liked that. But, it's funny, when I saw a big billboard for the show-I think right before it came out-and it looked sort of edgy and it was, like four beautiful girls, and I was like, "I could totally be on that show." So then I got the audition, and I was like, "Wow, this is very fortuitous." And I auditioned, and I just felt like it was a good place for me. So it all worked out really great.
What would you say are the similarities or differences between you and Caleb?
Tyler Blackburn: Similarities: I think I can kind of keep up with all different personality types, but I may be not quite as troubled as Caleb and his past are. But I definitely have a brooding side, I think, that comes out sometimes but you know. That's probably how we're similar and also dissimilar.
Are we going to continue to see Caleb being involved in the adventure and the mystery of A or is this target going to slow him down a bit?
Tyler Blackburn: I think that after this next week's episode it does slow down a little bit for Caleb. I think A definitely gives people these hurdles, and if they prove themselves and successfully jump over them-A doesn't necessarily back off but gives a slight amount of breathing room. So I think that's sort of what happens with Caleb. He's put in some hot water, but he does prevail in some ways. So I think that for the rest of the season after that, he's focusing again on his relationship with Hanna, as opposed to all of this craziness. So it does shift a little bit, but he definitely helps to facilitate finding out the mystery of who A is.
Now, when you're reading the scripts, what's your general reaction? Do you find yourself shocked by what's happening or surprised by what Caleb's actions and reactions are? Did you expect Caleb to be where he is now or where he ends up in the next two episodes?
Tyler Blackburn: Well, when I read the scripts, I'm not going to lie, I get really into it because it's really well written, and it's exciting. Obviously, the mysteries are left open for us too, and once we read a script and it's like, "What does that mean?" And then it's answered in the next episode, or it's not. So it does get very exciting. As far as where Caleb is, it's just really funny because I was supposed to do four episodes of this show, and I kept doing more, and I was like, "Wow, this is really cool, and I'm enjoying this." Then I was starting to think like, "Oh, it would be awesome if Caleb helped the girls find out who A is," and then that's kind of happening. So I am surprised, but I'm not surprised where he is at this point.
It seems there's going to have to be some sort of serious showdown between Caleb and Garrett. What can you tell us about what's going to happen with them?
Tyler Blackburn: Well, Garrett's just a creepy dude. He's also a cop, and Caleb has a bit of a sordid past with the law and I think that A knows that. A sort of sets it up to where Garrett and Officer Wilden are able to basically charge-not charge but assume-that Caleb has done some hacking illegally and A sort of sets Caleb up in that way. So you wonder is Caleb going to get in trouble with the law again, and the law happens to be Garrett. I think Garrett also has some ulterior motives as well, so they're definitely out for blood. But Caleb is a tough dude, you know? He has a lot of street smarts, and he can keep up pretty well.
Are we going to see anymore of Caleb with his family that he's been introduced to, and how is that going to play into everything?
Tyler Blackburn: I'm not sure. I know for a fact that the rest of the season takes place in Rosewood, but third season-who knows? That would be fun if Caleb and Hanna were to go surfing in Malibu or something like that. That'd be fun.
Since A is going to be coming after Caleb, does that put a wedge also between his relationship with Hanna in any way?
Tyler Blackburn: You know what? Quite to the contrary, it brings them a little bit closer. Usually, it's Caleb trying to protect Hanna, but because Caleb is in hot water, Hanna has to kind of figure out how she might be able to help Caleb, and so the roles are reversed a little bit, and I think it brings them closer, actually. So I'm sure A is pretty pissed off.
The show is very girl-centric, but I'm wondering if you hear from male fans at all (straight or gay) as far as the guys watching the show?
Tyler Blackburn: Obviously it is a rarity, but I have for sure. I don't know their sexual orientation necessarily, but it could hardly matter either. A fan is a fan and if guys don't reach out-I mean, the thing is I know that guys have to watch it. I watch every episode, and I enjoy it not only because I work on it, but it's because it's a really good show, and it has a little bit of everything. Yes, it's girl-centric, and there's fashion and stuff, but it's scary sometimes. You know what I mean? It's like, mystery. So I think guys would really enjoy it. I know they're out there. I know they're out there.
Have you ever come up with theories about what's going to happen next before you read the script with other cast members? Do you guys ever sit around and think, "I wonder if it's going to go this direction?"
Tyler Blackburn: I think a little bit, but it seems like we crank it out. I mean, it's like we film an episode, halfway through the episode we get the new scripts, almost, and it's like-it moves so fast, and the writers are just so good at their job, that we kind of just leave it to them. And we kind of-we're along for the ride, in a way, you know?
Do you think there would ever be a possibility for fans to hear you sing on the show?
Tyler Blackburn: Well, on the show, I'm not sure. I mean, that would definitely have to be sort of like a decision for the character. But I actually have recorded a couple songs, (one of them was for a web series that I did) and we filmed a music video for it. So that's actually available online. That song is called "Save Me." Then I've also recorded another song that-it's sort of through ABC Family-and hopefully I can continue to do so. They've just been really great in providing a platform for me to get in the recording studio and hone that craft. So we're hoping that some cool stuff can happen with that music, so I absolutely know that the fans will be able to hear some music from me.
If it were up to you, what kind of mischief would Caleb be involved with? Or would you like to see him end up more of a hero?
Tyler Blackburn: Oh, well I think at this point he's definitely leaning towards hero, and I think for the sake of this show, I would definitely enjoy that. I think these four girls must be driven crazy every single day. I can't even imagine. So if Caleb can alleviate any of that and play the superhero for a minute, I think I'd like that. I think that they would be very grateful. I think the fans would enjoy it too.
Who do you see Caleb ending up with romantically, ultimately, and who do you think is going to be going after Caleb?
Tyler Blackburn: At this point I think that he and Hanna are just like a dynamic duo, honestly. I think it's kind of a match made in heaven, and so I personally hope that they end up together, and I think that if anybody else goes after Caleb, Hanna's claws will come out.
Do you have a favorite moment from filming so far behind the scenes or something shot?
Tyler Blackburn: Oh man, there's so much because it's just this show allows you to explore different settings and stuff, you know? I mean, I loved-well, just so many-but in one of the recent episodes where Hanna and Lucas are out on the rowboat and there's this whole surprise party for Caleb, actually. And I wasn't even in it that much, but it was just so fun to be in this Warner Bros. backlot outside. I mean, they literally just-the sets on the show are epic, and I love being outdoors. I love being on-set, so it was just a ... combination of the two. So I really enjoyed that, but there's just so many. I just have so much fun while I'm there, so it's kind of a hard answer to come up with.
I know that when Caleb was brought in on the whole secret between the girls he wasn't given the entire truth, just enough so that he could help them out. Will he learn the whole truth of what's going on with them?
Tyler Blackburn: This season from here on out, as far as Caleb goes, after next week's episode it does start to focus a little bit more on the four girls as the mystery of A is coming to a close. So he doesn't learn the whole truth this season. I think that he possibly will learn it next season, but for this season, he knows that they're being harassed, and he's not okay with that. So he, I think, has his theories, but yes, he does have a lot of unanswered questions about what's going on. I think he thinks Jenna's abusing them because he's been sort of taken advantage by her as well. He sort of has his own theories, like most people have their theories on who A is. You know what I mean?
In the past, it's mainly just been you and Ashley (Benson) working together, but now you seem to work with all of the girls more. What is that like?
Tyler Blackburn: It's really fun, honestly. I like that that's shifted. Obviously, I love working with Ashley, and I find that we have just really good chemistry and stuff. But it's been really fun working with everybody. I mean, it makes me feel like I'm maybe like the fifth Pretty Little Liars or something. But everybody is great, honestly, in their own way as actors, so it's fun to experience that. With acting, it's like you form chemistry with different people in different ways, so it's really added even more fun to work, you know?
So it's not too much of an estrogen-fest or anything?
Tyler Blackburn: I love women, and I just think that they're great. I mean, yes, they can be a little nutty sometimes, but they're great. So I'm pretty comfortable. Definitely, I like to come home and, like, do something manly.
Tyler Blackburn: Yeah, I like to do yard work or something sort of like more manly to-well, but I can adapt. It's fine. It's all good.
What do you think makes Hanna and Caleb's chemistry click together, especially after Caleb's original lies and deceits?
Tyler Blackburn: Well, I think that they're both similar in the sense that they put out this tougher exterior, but they have a lot of sensitivity inside. So I think when they're together, it's kind of a platform for them to be able to open up and really feel something. You know what I mean? I think that that makes them feel safe together, and I think that feeling safety with a significant other is just really important. As actors, I feel that it's a little bit of the same thing. Not that we have these tough exteriors, but that Ashley and I can just really have a good conversation, and we really sort of understand each other. So I think that that helps, absolutely.
Why do you think Pretty Little Liars fans have taken to Caleb so well?
Tyler Blackburn: Well, the show is about four girls and I think that our fan base is mostly girls. So you have to have a balance between the female eye candy and the male eye candy. I feel like they like the fact that Caleb sort of breaks things up a little bit as far as he does definitely bring something-not humorous, but just like an edge to things. He can be a bad- I think, and he's also a good boyfriend to Hanna, and I think that girls like watching that as well. I think the writers have done an amazing job at creating the character and the evolution because when I first got on the show, he really was just kind of a rebel and stuff, and you start to learn more about him and why he is the way he is. I think that people like that as well. It's just when you get a background or a backstory to a character, I think that they like that.
If you could pick the perfect celebrity guest star for the show, who would you pick, and what would their storyline be?
Tyler Blackburn: There's just so many though. Whenever I get asked like, "What's your favorite movie; who's you favorite actor," I'm like-it's hard for me. I'm not someone who has, like, a favorite. I don't have a favorite song or a favorite band. I just love so many things, you know? Gosh, ideal guest star-let's see. Literally, the first name that comes to my mind is Dustin Hoffman. I don't know why.
A is like the big mystery of the show. How is revealing it at the end of this season going to change the dynamics of the entire show?
Tyler Blackburn: That's a great question, and I wondered the same thing. Obviously, you feel like, oh, the show would end, but that is not going to happen. Once A is revealed, there's another mystery kind of starts from that. So they definitely have kept the momentum going, so you're not going to be disappointed, and there's just going to be more and more. I think this is probably one of the biggest black holes that anybody could fall into because there's just so many layers to it, you know?
Do you think it'll have any negative impact with the fans after A is revealed?
Tyler Blackburn: No, I don't, honestly. I think that people are going to, like, just be aghast, literally. It's going to be so awesome.
Is there anyone on the show that you haven't really been able to work with that you would like to work with?
Tyler Blackburn: I think Holly (Marie Combs) would be awesome. I really enjoy watching her, and she is just so sweet and awesome and amazing, and I would love to do some work with Holly. We never really get to do anything, so I would say her or Keegan. I think that would be cool.
If you met the group of girls that are on the show in real life, would you hang out with them, or would you have anyone that was in particular closer to your similar tastes in females?
Tyler Blackburn: Very well put. Honestly, in real life, I hate drama, so I probably wouldn't really hang out with them too much because they have a lot of drama. But as far as their characters go, I would say Aria or Emily, maybe, just as far as personalities go-maybe hang out with them a little bit. I mean, they're all pretty cool, but I would say one of those two.
Do you have any memorable fan experiences you can share with us?
Tyler Blackburn: Actually, over this last weekend, I met a bunch of teenage girls, and this is a little bit of a downer, maybe, but one of the girls had a condition called alopecia. That's where you basically lose all of your hair, and she asked me to sign her head, and it was very touching, actually. I would say that would probably be one of the most memorable. I don't know why. I felt a lot of compassion for her, and she was so bold and awesome about it. She was like, "Hey, I don't have any hair. Please sign my head." And I was like, "Absolutely." Very, very sweet.
What's been the coolest experience you've had being part of the show?
Tyler Blackburn: Oh my gosh. Those are, like, countless to be honest because it's been such a change in my life. This show is amazing, and it's just so successful that I've had the opportunity to do so many things. Wow. Gosh. Let's see. Being a little bit more public figure, it's sort of awesome when you can lend a hand to certain charities and that type of thing. I'm now a global investor of Stomp Out Bullying, and I was able to go to-not the White House-but to Washington D.C. to raise awareness about cyber-bullying and bullying. And that was pretty awesome just to have certain people there to listen to a little bit of my story, just talking to people who experience that and let them know that it's-the world is a safer place than it seems-and keep pushing through because it's pretty awesome out there. The ability to have a voice like that, I think, is awesome. Also, just to be able to act. That's really what I love to do. I love being on set. I love getting scenes and rehearsing them, and it's just awesome to have that opportunity, so I'm just excited for everything. I'm just an excited person, I guess.
When will Caleb wise up to Lucas's obvious, undying love for Hanna?
Tyler Blackburn: It hasn't really been written, but I feel like he totally knows, to be honest. The thing is Lucas is a good guy, and he's been a pretty good friend to Caleb, other than the whole gambling thing, and I feel like it just kind of it is what it is, and I think Caleb feels like, "Hey, we can be friends and make it all work." But I'm not sure if it's going to be-I'm not sure if there's going to be, like, a showdown or anything like that. I just think it is what it is, and I think Caleb just has respect for the situation and Lucas. I don't think Caleb really goes out of his way to, like, rub it in his face or anything like that.
Hanna has a lot of secrets and lies, and Caleb seems to be a little bit turned off by them, yet a little bit turned on by them. What, if anything, can drive Caleb and Hanna apart?
Tyler Blackburn: You're correct in saying that he kind of likes it, but also doesn't like it. I think that Caleb likes to solve problems. Do you know what I mean? He definitely likes to solve problems. That's why he likes to sort of get in between there and figure it all out. But I don't know to what extent-I don't know what it would take for them to separate. I don't think that-honestly, maybe something like cheating or something. I don't know, you know? I feel like they have a lot of trust in each other, and I feel like something like that would break their trust.
A lot of the stars have said that they would be interested in doing a Pretty Little Liars convention for fans. Would that be something you were interested in doing?
Tyler Blackburn: Oh, absolutely. Yeah. That would be so fun. I mean, something like Comic-Con or something like that. I just think that's so fun. That energy must be so tangible. It must be cool because ... that, I would totally participate in that.
Do you think Caleb and Hanna are made for each other? Leading up to the finale, can we expect any surprising turns for Caleb or maybe even getting that Caleb/Lucas duo back on the screen?
Tyler Blackburn: Their little bromance? Not with Lucas, but I will say that Caleb is sort of put in a position to have to do something that he really doesn't want to do to help someone out. So yeah, that's actually a spot-on question, so I think fans will love it. They'll love it. I thought it was awesome.
If you could give Caleb a piece of advice for the coming episodes and coming seasons, what would it be?
Tyler Blackburn: I would say, actually, a combination of don't forget to breathe, and take notes because there's a lot of information out there.
Do you watch yourself on TV after you film a scene?
Tyler Blackburn: I'm going to be honest. I do watch it. In the beginning, I was really reluctant, but I think it's awesome to be proud of yourself, and I am proud of the work that I do, and I'm proud to be a part of this show. Obviously there are moments where I'm like, don't ever make that face again, or-you do get a little critical. But I think it's really fun to watch it because you do put a lot of time and effort into it, and you see It on the page, you perform it the way you think it should be done, and you want to see the end results and how it came out, and I think that's awesome.
What was your reaction the first time you found out who A was?
Tyler Blackburn: I kind of got giddy. The finale episode is like, I mean, most people would remember when Ian was hanging from the bell tower, and there was so much action. That's literally just a fraction of what goes on in this season finale. So it's adrenaline pumping. I really genuinely was, like, biting my nails reading the script, and I was just so stoked when it all came to a close and the way it was done. It's awesome.
What is your dream plotline for Caleb in season three, now that you're a regular?
Tyler Blackburn: Wow. I just feel like there are so many options. I feel like it could go so many ways. I do feel like because of the big reveal- which they're dubbing "A-Day" by the way-I feel like that's just going to really open up a huge can of worms for everybody involved, everybody at Rosewood High, all the parts, Caleb, I think everyone's going to start to get clued in, I would imagine. So I feel like, obviously, Caleb wants to continue to help Hanna specifically, but also her friends. So I don't know. I really don't have a solid answer for it. I just want him to continue to be there with them and trudge through the grind of A and all of the damage A has done.
A lot of our readers are Team Haleb fans, (Hanna and Caleb) but there's also a lot of Team Ezria fans, (Ezra and Aria) so I just want to know if you could choose between the two, which couple do you think has a better chance of survival.
Tyler Blackburn: Absolutely Haleb. Well, they're the same age. No, but I do think that's going to be a factor. I think, obviously, the romance of it with Ezra and Aria is really romantic, kind of because it's so forbidden. I hope it lasts, but it's going to be a little bit more challenging, I think. I think that Haleb will be the winner in that one.
Hanna may be the one for Caleb, but which character is the most your type in real life?
Tyler Blackburn: I said it before and I think it's the same still: It would probably be Aria. She just has a little bit of this kind of-a little bit of this Bohemian vibe to her, like funky fashion. Yeah, I think I would say Aria.
Can you give us spoilers about what viewers can expect in these episodes leading up to the season finale?
Tyler Blackburn: In the next one, Caleb does have a huge storyline in the next episode. A has really put their sights on Caleb and wants to destroy Caleb. Caleb is getting a little too close for comfort, I think, and so he's sort of accused of some false charges of hacking, and so he winds up in the police station and has to get out of a pretty sticky situation. But after that, there's only a few left, so things just get a little bit more-let's see, what's a good word for it?-obviously confusing. I mean, the show, not confusing, but there's just like, "What," like your questions do not get answered. So there's definitely more of that. I will say in one of the upcoming episodes, there's a big masquerade ball, and Hanna and Caleb are sort of like a play on Romeo and Juliet, which I thought was awesome, and I think that fans will enjoy watching that because it's just so beautifully done. I can say that.