There are a lot of interesting things we learned about Keegan Allen when he recently dropped by Alloy Entertainment’s NYC headquarters on a sunny afternoon to chat about Pretty Little Liars Season 4. For starters, he’s not as shy as his Rosewood persona Toby Cavanaugh. The charming actor regaled us with stories about his awesome fans, motorcycle adventures, and working alongside Troian Bellisario, Lucy Hale, Ashley Benson and Shay Mitchell. Second, if you thought his eyes were an electric shade of blue on-screen then wait until you see them in person. It’s as though someone planted a garden of forget-me-not flowers in his ocular space. Third, he can rock a suit just as well as dapper Original hunk Elijah Mikaelson from The Vampire Diaries. Most amazingly though, contrary to what his toned physique may indicate, the Keegs loves sweets.
So what did we do? Bribed him with Crumbs cupcakes in exchange for secrets about the upcoming PLL season, of course. Check out our exclusive interview with Keegan Allen below!
Alloy Entertainment: Will Spencer and Toby enjoy a moment of happiness when Pretty Little Liars Season 4 returns or will there be relationship drama brewing again for Spoby?
Keegan Allen: There probably will be. Every season so far has begun in a nice place and then everything just falls apart. In [Season 4], Spencer and Toby start off strong. However, whereas the last few seasons featured Spencer dealing with issues concerning her family and Toby joining the A team, Season 4 has to do with Toby’s past and Spencer is his rock, the person he leans on throughout his ordeal. It’s honestly heavy, troubling material.
Alloy Entertainment: We love Alison and Toby flashbacks. Will we be witnessing any more interactions between the two?
Keegan Allen: We do have a flashback and we get to see Toby pre-Jenna, when he was actually friends with Alison.
Marlene King is brilliant and at the beginning of the show, she and I talked about possibilities for Toby’s character. I mean, if you just open up Flawless [by Sara Shepard], it begins with: (grabs a copy of PLL Book 4 and begins reading the first passage aloud) “You know that boy who lives a few doors down from you who’s just the creepiest person alive?” (Scrolls down the page.) “Every town has a black-cat boy. In Rosewood, his name was Toby Cavanaugh.” I remember when I first read Flawless, I thought, “OMG. This is great!” Then I get to the end where it describes how Toby had Emily’s purse and suddenly he’s [SPOILER!] I’m like, “WHAT? This is ridiculous!” (Laughs)
So I talked to Marlene about it and she assured me, “Don’t worry. Don’t worry. I’m writing the show and we’re going to keep you on it. And OMG did she ever. She wrote the most amazing storylines! I was the perfect boyfriend, the moral compass, and then I turn around and suddenly I was part of the A team and now the show has delved into deeper material. Marlene King wrote this storyline for Toby that is heartbreaking on a level that is so intense I don’t think most viewers will be able to fully understand it until we get to episodes 3 and 4.
Alloy Entertainment: PLL Season 3 got pretty grim, especially when Spencer vandalized Toby’s mom’s grave at the mausoleum. Will Season 4 explore Toby’s relationship with his mom at all?
Keegan Allen: Toby’s storyline in Season 4 actually revolves around his history and his family life. It focuses on what really happened and why Toby is such an outcast in Rosewood. Moreover, Toby carries around a lot of guilt and, as an actor, it’s a very dark role to step into yet so intriguing.
Alloy Entertainment: In the PLL Season 3 finale, Toby was knocked unconscious and awoke up to find a lighter next to him. Will he be embarking on his own separate sleuthing adventures? Or was this all just a setup to blame him for yet another fire?
Keegan Allen: Interesting! Yes, the lighter will affect him. I’m not sure if you were able to see but it actually has an insignia on it that fans are already trying to decipher. And let me just say they are so smart. I’ve sat down with Marlene many times where we read conspiracy theories posted by viewers and we’re like, “Whoa.” Sometimes, a fan will ask me something or make a suggestion, and I immediately beeline it to Marlene. (Whispers) “So, I had a fan tell me this…” and they’ll actually include it on the show. No other series has done this in the past — had social media as a train that drove it and our fans kind of write the show with us and respond to it with such amazing observations.
Alloy Entertainment: Speaking of social media, you know there’s a hashtag based on you, right?
Keegan Allen: OMG. Really? What is it?
Alloy Entertainment: #Booradleyvancullen.
Keegan Allen:(Laughs) What?! I do not know what this is. Cullen as in Edward from Twilight, right?
Alloy Entertainment: Yea! Because you have really good hair. And Boo Radley because he’s the mysterious loner from Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. Heather Hogan from AfterEllen.com actually began it.
Keegan Allen: I love AfterEllen.com! Their PLL recaps are so funny. Ian Harding was the one who turned me on to it and I was like, “What is this brilliance?!” And, as for the hashtag, I’ve seen it being used in PLL tweets sometimes and never understood what that was. Wow. That is so cool!
Alloy Entertainment: The cast is dealing with much darker material than previous seasons. How do you all let loose and relax in between all those harrowing scenes?
Keegan Allen: What I’m very grateful for is that I have Troian [Bellisario] with me in most of the scenes. Not that the other girls would be disrespectful, but Troian is such an avid professional that while we’re shooting super intense scenes, she’s present and she’s in it with me. It never truly ends until we’re officially done. Then she’ll eventually punch me in the arm and spit in my face, “Hey you!” and make me laugh. In fact, she’s an incredibly funny person. Sometimes, I can’t focus because she gets me laughing to the point where there are tears streaming down my face. She’s just such a great companion for dealing with material that is this serious. Moreover, she’s always respectful, always on time, fully prepared and always there for me. She knows me very well so it’s fun shooting with her.
Alloy Entertainment: Have there been any specific funny moments on set while working on PLL Season 4? Any more Keeganing?
Keegan Allen:(Laughs) That was a big deal apparently and I honestly felt like such a tool. Our old production assistant, Kyle Hasday, was like, “Have Shay [Mitchell] sitting on your knees and be holding up her laptop and iced coffee while the two of you are running lines, but be doing push ups on your fingertips.” And that was like the “cool” thing to do on set for a few days. We really do know how to have fun though. Ashley [Benson] and I Keek all the time. Keek is sort of like visual Twitter, where no one can steal it and I can respond to fans via video. We try to keep our fans interested!
Alloy Entertainment: We just watched a video that you Keeked of you at a signing in Virginia and couldn’t find the mute volume fast enough. So much screaming!
Keegan Allen:Oh, yea. I should have added a warning: This video will blow out your eardrums. I was not prepared for it at all. They had to hire cadets from the nearby sheriff’s stations because they only anticipated approximately 200 fans showing up and got only 300 photos for me to autograph. Almost 3,500 people showed up! They were like, “We don’t know what to do. We’ve only hired you to be here for three hours. Are you okay with staying longer?” I was definitely fine with that and told them I would stay until I met every single person. It was crazy but I loved it. Some people traveled all the way from China, Dubai, and London to meet…(points at himself incredulously)me. (Laughs) It was a great experience to witness the tremendous response that the show has created. It’s just such a force.
Alloy Entertainment: Caleb is moving to Ravenswood before he and Toby ever got a chance to embark on a beautiful bromance. But we’re so excited about it! What are your thoughts about the spin-off?
Keegan Allen: I would love to appear in Ravenswood! I have no idea what’s going on with that but I do know that Tyler [Blackburn] is leaving Rosewood in the Season 4 Halloween episode. I don’t think Toby has any interactions with Caleb, but it sounds like it’s going to be such a great show. Marlene is writing it as is Oliver. It’s apparently a supernatural version of PLL. I’m proud of Tyler though. He and I have traveled together and I have to say he’s not only a talented actor but a good guy so I’m proud for him.
Thanks to Keegan Allen for taking time out from his busy schedule to share so many wonderful stories from the PLL set with us! Follow him at @keeganallen for behind the scenes scoop and more updates! Now, if you could ask him any question about Pretty Little Liars Season 4 what would it be? Drop it in the comments and who knows — it might get answered!