Tuesday’s season finale re-introduced Parker as Mary — mother of the late Charlotte and twin sister of the even-later Jessica DiLaurentis — and Parker promises that the twisted reveals have only just begun.
“When I was hired [back in Season 2], I thought this was going to be an episode or two, maybe,” she says. “I had no idea that the character was going to recur. And, thankfully, it’s become so much more.”
Below, Parker reveals her personal reaction to the Mary Drake bombshell, shares her biggest challenge in the role and offers a not-so-subtle warning to “each and every one” of the Liars.
TVLINE | Mary seems like a huge departure from Jessica. How did you prepare to step into her shoes?
It was a quick turn. We started shooting right after we got the script at the table read, which was days before we shot the scenes with Mary. I didn’t have a lot of time to process what the character was going to be all about, so I just jumped in and flew by the seat of my pants.
TVLINE | At least you had Huw Collins there to help you through it.
I had just met him that day! I was so confused shooting that scene; I didn’t realize he has an English accent in real life, and Detective Wilden was there, and we were peeling each other’s faces off. It was a challenge to keep all of the information straight, but it was fun nonetheless. Come on, we all know how much I love to be bad.
TVLINE | So it must have been difficult for you to keep this all to yourself.
We shot this in October, so I’ve had this secret for six months, which has been really hard. I love the fans, we’re very close and I feel like I’ve been lying to them. I’m relieved that the secret is finally out.
TVLINE | Let’s talk about Mary’s look, which is very fun and dark. Are you a fan?
I think it’s amazing. Listen, I loved Jessica; she dressed with a lot of color, and she was very chic with her turned-up collars and little scarves. But she was also a little frumpy, so I’m excited to get away from those khakis. Mary, I’m assuming, wears a lot of black. She’s got an edge that I’m sure will be portrayed in her wardrobe.
TVLINE | The finale also reunited a lot of the show’s former couples. Do you have a personal favorite?
Personally, I ‘ship “Emison.” Mrs. D also shipped “Emison.” But it remains to be seen if Mary is even capable of ‘shipping at all. [Laughs]
TVLINE | Then you must be glad that Elliott is evil, for Alison and Emily’s sake.
It leaves room, yes it does!
TVLINE | So what you’re saying is that Mary’s real master plan is to make “Emison” happen.
[Laughs] Of course. Obviously.
TVLINE | We’re talking about Mary as a villain, but do you think there’s a sympathetic angle to her?
Oh, I think that’s a must. That’s what will make it interesting for me, and I expect for the fans as well. The love she has for Charlotte — and any other people that may or may not be in her past — would bring another dimension to her.
TVLINE | Has Marlene King shared her plans for Mary with you yet?
We’re getting together next week before we start Season 7 to have a big pow wow and make sure I’m up to date with all the goings-on of Mary Drake. … I’m ravenous. I need to find everything out.
TVLINE | What are you most excited to learn about her?
I think I’m most excited about investigating Mary Drake as a mother.
TVLINE | During that Facebook stream, Marlene referred to Season 7 as “the beginning of the end.” Are you excited to play arguably the largest role in that ending?
Marlene! Our beautiful matriarch. She is a champion for these characters and their relationships, and I trust her implicitly. The beauty, for me, is that friendship and loyalty are at the heart of this show. … I don’t think any of the Liars are safe. I think each and every one of ’em better watch their backs.
TVLINE | Wow, you really are having fun with this.
[Laughs] I get to work out my aggression at work. It’s all good.
TVLINE | As long as you don’t take the character home with you.
You’d have to talk to my husband about that. He’ll be your next interview.
Your thoughts on the big Mary Drake reveal? Hopes for Season 7? Drop ’em all in a comment below.