It’s double the Tyler Blackburn goodness on ABC Family this Tuesday, when the cabler airs its annual Pretty Little Liars Halloween special (at 8/7c), and then launches the actor’s much-anticipated PLL spin-off, Ravenswood (9/8c).
Here, Blackburn chats with TVLine about taking on a starring role in the offshoot, how the supernatural-tinged Ravenswood differs from the mothership series and what his alter ego Caleb’s relocation means for fan-fave twosome “Haleb”. (Hint: They’re nowhere near finished!)
TVLINE | What was your reaction to being asked to topline the Liars spin-off?
My reaction was slightly tentative at first, because of the unpredictability of this business. [Laughs] Once I found out that it was greenlit, I was super excited. It’s very validating, the fact that they thought about me in that way. But there was very little prior knowledge. [Executive producer] Marlene [King] pulled me aside on set the first day back of Season 4 and said, “Hey, we’re developing a show for you!” And I was like, “What?!” [Laughs] It was wild. Thinking back, actually, there was a time that [executive producer] Oliver Goldstick asked what I wanted to do with my career. I remember thinking that was weird but now I kind of get it. I was excited and happy, but, at the same time, I was nervous. That’s a lot of responsibility; it’s a game-changer for someone’s life.
TVLINE | Last we saw, Caleb was on his way to Ravenswood — but strictly to help Hanna and the girls. How do the events that keep him there unfold?
The Halloween episode picks up with Caleb on the bus to Ravenswood, and on the bus — which is old and creepy — he meets a girl named Miranda who has this spunky personality. They have this weird connection — it’s not necessarily romantic, but it’s almost like they’ve known each other before. She’s on her way to Ravenswood as well to find long lost relatives, so when they get there some things unfold with all of them — Hanna as well. The three of them start to uncover some really odd things in regards to Miranda. Therefore, Hanna actually asks Caleb to stick around and help Miranda, and that’s where PLL ends and Ravenswood picks up. Caleb starts to realize he’s gotten into a lot more than he thought.
TVLINE | We know that he sees his own image on an old Ravenswood gravestone…
When Caleb stays in Ravenswood to help Miranda, that’s something he uncovers and it becomes much more complex immediately. He’s glad he stayed because he needs answers. He realizes that he’s part of Ravenswood, and unexpectedly so.
TVLINE | Will you simultaneously appear on both Liars and Ravenswood early on?
I’m mostly on Ravenswood, but there is room for a little bit of crossover. I think after the fifth episode of Ravenswood, Caleb makes a journey back to Rosewood.
TVLINE | Is there any sort of send-off between Caleb and Hanna that will satisfy fans?
Kind of. [Laughs] You’ll have to watch. In some form there is — but it’s not the end [for them].
TVLINE | Talk a little about Ravenswood‘s differing tone — particularly the fact that you’re playing the same character but in a much different world.
Ravenswood is horror. It’s not slasher, but it’s psychological and spiritual horror. Playing Caleb going from the threat of “A” and the “A” Team, who is a tangible, real person or people, to this unknown haunted town, it changes him for sure. It’s been cool to play that. He grows up even more. When you first saw Caleb on Pretty Little Liars he was this smartass, street rat guy. And through his relationship with Hanna he starts to mature and become more emotionally available, and that gets heightened on [Ravenswood]. He has a lot more going on. [Laughs]
TVLINE | Any love interests for Caleb on the horizon?
There are definitely possibilities. But it’s complex; it’s not as easy as one would hope. There’s definitely room for it but nothing happens right away. Like I said, Hanna and Caleb are together in the beginning, for sure, and then it doesn’t really go away… [Laughs]
TVLINE | What would you say to any Liars fans leery about joining you in Ravenswood?
I would say to give it a chance. The writers are smart and have parlayed one show into the other. The Halloween episode of PLL and the Ravenswood premiere are basically a two-hour special, so if you enjoy PLL, you should just enjoy the whole thing. [Laughs] … Ravenswood is different and is more supernatural, but it has all of the elements that PLL has. In my eyes, if you’re a rabid PLL fan you’ll get a double dose of those thrills.