Keegan Allen (Toby) Talks PRETTY LITTLE LIARS

Keegan Allen

While Aria, Emily, Spencer, and Hannah are the center of PRETTY LITTLE LIARS, the show boasts plenty of other interesting characters, too. One of my favorites is Toby Cavanagh (Keegan Allen), who has finally had his ankle monitor removed after being falsely accused of killing Alison and who is becoming even more fascinating as he strikes up a new and surprising friendship with Spencer.

Daemon’s TV was there when Keegan Allen talked about how he sees his character, what’s in store for Toby with the women in his life, and whether or not he knows whom A is.

On getting the role of Toby

Actors usually want to look their best when they go in for an audition, but Keegan took a slightly more relaxed approach for Pretty Little Liars. “I longboarded over to the casting office. I had a beanie on and my manager lost his mind when he found out I was wearing a beanie into the audition. It’s like a huge no-no,” he laughed. Luckily for him he said, “It just worked out. It was just great and I felt so connected to the character and the rest is history.”

On Toby

Toby has quite the tragic past: he was abused as a child, he was sent away, he took the blame for Jenna’s blindness, and he was accused of Alison’s murder. As you can imagine, this has left quite the mark on him. Keegan said, “Toby has this dormant angst in him that’s really bottled up. He’s been abused and he doesn’t trust anybody. Toby is very socially awkward and when he does find a friend he opens up and that’s when you see small–just little hints of removing the layer and seeing him.”

Keegan thinks Toby’s biggest desire is innocence. “He wants to live his life as a normal kid. He’s trying to get people to see he’s not a monster.”

When asked what has been the greatest joy of playing Toby, Keegan joked, “I’ve learned how to take apart and put back together my motorcycle a million times over.”

On Keegan’s favorite Toby moments

Keegan was asked what his favorite scene to shoot has been, but he couldn’t narrow it down to just one. “I loved getting pushed through that wall of glass during the homecoming episode. It would be a toss-up between that and the last episode when [Spencer and Toby] were talking in Jenna’s room because the set design is so beautiful and also the moment where Spencer sees Toby break down in the alleyway.”

On Toby and Jenna

Toby and Jenna’s, shall we say complicated, relationship has been much debated and Keegan was asked if we more light would be shed on it. He answered, “It was brought to everyone’s attention that Jenna was abusive toward Toby. There will be new things that come up that explain their relationship better, but there’s really not that far to go with it.”

There’s no doubt Toby and Jenna have a disturbing step-sibling relationship. Keegan explained, “Jenna is definitely a creeper and she doesn’t want him to leave her. He’s like her safety blanket and he finds the sympathy with Jenna, but he lives with her and it’s a vicious cycle.”

On Toby and Emily

When asked what we can expect for Toby and Emily, Keegan said, “At first, they were just really great friends and they were both very shy characters. I think now, seeing where Emily is going with her own sexuality and finding out who she is, they can be friends, but he is still very hesitant of Emily, so we’ll see that evolve more.”

On Toby and Spencer

Keegan sees Toby and Spencer as kindred spirits and he definitely doesn’t rule out the idea of a romance, but for now the focus is on how they need each other. “Toby has been in that spotlight where Spencer is now. She’s in that place where people aren’t believing her and she’s dealing with a whole bunch of issues, and he comes from that same place. She starts to maybe find a safe place to land with Toby in a way that we might not have expected. He might open up just a little bit more with her. He needs someone to trust–he has nobody to trust and Spencer is very wise and intelligent, so it’s a great place for them both to be. There is definitely a chemistry and we’ll see where it takes us.”

It should be interesting to see how Jenna reacts to this budding friendship. Keegan teased, “Jenna is a very jealous, jealous character. Toby and Jenna have that step-sibling crazy-weird thing going on where he’s been abused by her in the past and I think that the jealousy will arise in a different way than it would have affected him with Emily. Now it’s like another problem for Jenna: more people trying to pull Toby away.”

On what’s next for Toby

Keegan said that even though “we see Toby get beaten down and he’s always in that red spotlight,” he thinks things are on the upswing for Toby. “He has his ankle bracelet off and he’s developing this relationship with Spencer, that is right now very platonic, but he’s looking for a trustworthy person.”

Of course, that doesn’t mean things won’t be complicated. Keegan explained, “He might end up talking to Emily and we’ll see how that goes because even though Jenna came forward and said she turned him in to the cops, he still doesn’t trust Emily. She could have done stuff for him and we’ll see that relationship evolve and Emily might be a little jealous of Spencer and our newfound friendship.”

In terms of what Keegan would like to see happen to Toby, he said he wants Toby to be put into more uncomfortable situations and ones in which he has to grow. “It’s always fun to watch a character when he’s uncomfortable and the more uncomfortable the better.”

To help him grow, Keegan hopes Toby finds a real friend. “I’d like to see him experience someone he trusts. That would be most rewarding for me because he’s such a caged, beaten dog almost.”

He would also like to see Toby interact with Ezra. “They shared a glance–it wasn’t even like a real glance; it was just Ezra coming out and noticing Toby taking that stoic walk through the hallway. I would love to see Toby talk to Ezra. I think it would be a really interesting conversation. Ezra’s been talking to Jenna and I think it would be great to have that take on Toby and Ezra. Also, Ian [Harding, who plays Ezra] is a good friend of mine, so it would be fun to do a scene with him”

On whether A in the show is the same as A in the books

When asked if the books and show share the same A, Keegan laughed. “Obviously I can’t tell you who A is.” In fact, he couldn’t even divulge the identity of A in the books in case there are viewers who don’t know. He only said, “The writers are doing a great job and they have their ideas and obviously they’re going to hold off on revealing who A is–the longer the better. Every time I think I know who A is–and I don’t–it gets switched around and changes so drastically that it drives me nuts.”

According to Keegan, he and the other actors are pretty much on a need to know basis. “We might go to the writers and beg, ‘Please tell me what this means or what’s going to happen’ and sometimes they might tell us, but everything changes so rapidly. When we go to table reads collectively we all gasp. It’s a roller coaster we all go on together.”

Pretty Little Liars airs on ABC Family Mondays at 8pm eastern/7pm central.

You can read all our Pretty Little Liars coverage here.

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