With his friendly blue eyes and unnerving smile, Ezra Fitz (Ian Harding) doesn’t seem like a dangerous mastermind by any means. However, don’t let his adorable ability to name all of Malcolm’s stuffed animals or tendency to indulge in leftover birthday cake fool you. As Pretty Little Liars fans soon found out in Season 4 Episode 12, it’s that Ezra has some skeletons in his OCD-filled closet.
Luckily though, we won’t have to wait long for answers about Ezra’s potential turn to the dark side. We chatted with Ian Harding, the talented actor who portrays the charming English teacher, and he provided us with plenty of spoilers about ‘evil’ Fitz, the PLL Season 4 Halloween episode, and what this earth-shattering reveal could mean for Aria and Ezra to tide us over until “Grave New World” airs. Check out our exclusive Q&A with him below!
Alloy Entertainment: First of all – whoa! We’ve seen flashes of Ezra’s temper throughout PLL but that scene at the end of the summer finale — in which he slams the armoire door — takes the cake. Is it a welcome change of pace for you to shift over to the dark side?
Ian Harding: You know, it’s fun to get to show that sort of energy and aggression in a scene. It wasn’t very fun for my hand though because we did a take in which I punched the closet door instead. Norman [Buckley] the director was just like, “How about we just slam it this time?” And I was like, “Oh. So we’re doing this after I’ve broken my finger and there’s blood everywhere? Alright then.” But I’m excited. It’s been such a nice transition for my character. There’s a lot of stuff we don’t know about Ezra so it’s wonderful to get new details about him. And if he turns out to be some sort of evil mastermind who tracks down people in between grading papers? That’s great! Without alluding to anything in particular or speculating too much, I can say that there is going to be a considerable shift for sure.
Alloy Entertainment: How long have you known about Ezra’s potentially evil streak and have you personally spotted any tell-tale signs along the way that he might be the notorious “A”?
Ian Harding: I knew that Ezra was going to take a “dark turn.” That was the phrase that was circulated around in a bunch of emails and phone calls between myself and the writers. I knew that it was going to happen since February [of 2013] because there were one or two things that I needed clearance for and I couldn’t get it and I was like, “But why?” and they were like “Ezra is going to take a, uh, little bit of a turn.” Naturally my reaction was, “Ooo! Yeahy!” We’ve filmed several episodes since [“Now You See Me, Now You Don’t”] and it gets pretty colorful. As for clues, I thought the fact that Ezra suddenly popped up on the Halloween train [in Season 3] and casually explained his whereabouts with a simple “Oh. I was ghost writing.” was a red flag.
Alloy Entertainment: When did your cast mates find out? Were they entertained by the idea of you possibly being A?
Ian Harding: Some people found out at the table read and others had a hunch. Also, word got around set that the show was going to go in that direction. I think many people were shocked but mostly they were excited with the idea because I get to interact with actors and actresses that I have never really worked with before — more so with the girls. I have a lot of scenes with all of them this year and it’s been a great time. (Laughs.) I think maybe Shay had some choice words about the big reveal but she just likes to joke around like that.
Alloy Entertainment: Speaking of hanging out more with the Liars in PLL Season 4, what is it like working on set that’s predominately women?
Ian Harding: I love it! I think it’s awesome. Unless I’ve missed something, everybody on set is very professional. There’s no cattiness or diva behavior. We’re a group of young actors who know that we’re very lucky to be on this amazing show. We have a fun time. I also grew up with a lot of women…which makes me sound like some sort of pimp…but I have many aunts and my mom was around a lot.
Alloy Entertainment: Moment of truth — how much hate mail did you receive after the summer finale or were fans more excited to see Ezra shake things up? We noticed that Twitter especially blew up with comments during “Bring Down the Hoe” when Ezra snapped at poor Emily over a college essay.
Ian Harding: To be honest, for the most part, the reactions have been positive. I would personally define ‘hate mail’ as receiving something in my mailbox that deliberately states, “I’m going to kill you.” Luckily, I haven’t gotten any of that yet. However, I have noticed some slightly worrying, very obviously co-dependent messages. For example, “Oh my God. My heart is so broken, you’ve hurt me so much. How could you do that? I hate you, but I love you though.” And I’m like, ‘Okay.’ This is training girls to not be able to get out of bad situations when they’re older. Other than that, the response has been great and it seems as though many viewers were shocked more than anything. They’re eager to see where Ezra’s storyline is going to go. What’s exciting for me though is that I trust the writers that I don’t think it’s going to go down a tacky road, you know? We’re not going to see Ezra suddenly turn into a nut job or the show be like “Oh. He has an evil twin!” or “He’s actually an angel!” They’re going to come up with several justifiable reasons that are going to be awesome. Hopefully. (Laughs.)
Alloy Entertainment: If Ezra is in fact the all-knowing A, which Rosewood resident would you love to him take down and why?
Ian Harding: Hmm. Although Wilden’s gone — and even though I love Bryce Johnson and it was kind of sad to see him laying in a coffin in the [Season 4] premiere — he seemed like a big douche so it would have been fun to scare him a bit.
Alloy Entertainment: Would Aria’s dad Byron make A’s hit list at all?
Ian Harding: Byron? (Laughs) Maybe. That would be a blast. And you know what? Ezra could also go after Aria’s mom, not really for character reasons but just because I would love to mess with Holly Marie Combs.
Alloy Entertainment: It’s funny that you mentioned a Rosewood mom because when we interviewed Bryce during PLL Season 2, and asked him who he’d target if he was A, he immediately stated Veronica Hastings.
Ian Harding: Ha! That’s awesome. Lesley Fera who plays Spencer’s mom is such a jokester so I get why he’d choose her.
Alloy Entertainment: In the Halloween trailer for “Let the Maid Go,” we notice that Ezra magically pops up in Ravenswood. Can you tease anything about the upcoming special and Ezra’s involvement with all the spooky events?
Ian Harding: I think it’s one of those things where I am certainly there. I am in the episode. I am in Ravenswood. There are many a crazy and cool costumes – many a identity swaps and hidden identities. Lots of questions such as, “Is this person there? Are they not? Are they dead?” The Halloween episode last year was such a thriller and paid homage to film noir and Hitchcokian themes. This year’s episode is so much more intense. I’ve noticed several themes in playbacks and in dailies that are legitimately scary.
Alloy Entertainment: We enjoyed the interaction between Jake and Ezra in the country-themed episode. In your opinion, who should Aria go for? And do you reckon Ezra was jealous at all of Jake’s two-stepping skills?
Ian Harding: I feel terrible admitting this but I haven’t watched that episode yet just because my schedule has been really nuts. I can’t wait to see it though! In terms of who Aria should go for, I’d selfishly choose myself because I want to continue being employed for a little bit. I don’t doubt that just because [Ezra might be A] that his feelings for her were never real. As for Jake, I do consider him to be an amazing guy. Ryan Guzman is really cool and we’ve had some great times on set, especially when we had to film that scene in which I’m serving him a soda at the dance, it was a riot to shoot. However, I don’t think that Jake and Aria are necessarily right for each other and, after he chose watching a movie over attending a poetry reading, I think that she’s starting to get that sense too.
For more juicy scoop on Pretty Little Liars Season 4 and the highly anticipated return to Ravenswood on October 22 head on over to ABC Family’s site, and be sure to follow Ian Harding on twitter at @IanMHarding for the latest news on Ezra Fitz, his adorable dogs, and more!