Post Mortems

Pretty Little Liars: 'A' Defends Finale's Biggests Twists, Previews Charlotte's Future With Alison in Season 6

Pretty Little Liars fans, the cAt is finally out of the bAg — and “A” is telling all.

Fresh off Tuesday’s polarizing summer finale, in which “Charles” was revealed to have become Charlotte/CeCe, TVLine spoke with actress Vanessa Ray about… well, pretty much everything.

Read on to find out how long Ray knew about Charles’ twist, how she approached playing a transgender character and whether or not we can expect to see Charlotte in the second half of Season 6.

TVLINE | Good morning, Charles.
Please, call me Charlotte.

TVLINE | Yes, of course. When you first got this part, did you ever imagine it would become such a big deal?
Never! No way. How could you imagine this? I was so thrilled to get this job to begin with, the first job I ever had in Los Angeles. It was a really happy place I got to go to work where they had spa water with mint and lime and the girls were all beautiful, nice and cool. I got to play a true character, this larger-than-life girl who was so different from me. I get mushy about it actually, because I’m just so unbelievably grateful and happy for this experience.

TVLINE | When did you find out you were Charles, and how did you respond?
I believe I found out June, like, 7 maybe? We normally don’t get scripts until we get on set, but they couriered this one over to me. I was like, “That’s weird.” I figured not at a lot was revealed, which is why they sent it around. Marlene texted me right away, “Did you get it? I’m really excited for you to read it!” So I read it casually in my apartment, and when I got to Page 4, it says, “It’s CeCe effing Drake,” or whatever word they used. I screamed and I threw the script across the room. My soon-to-be-husband came out to see if I was OK, and I was like, “You’re not going to believe what’s in that!” It was the Neverending Story book all of a sudden. The script had power, I thought light was going to beam out of it.

TVLINE | What was that table read like? Just a lot of gasping?
I believe Troian [Bellisario] had known for a while, maybe even as soon as I came to the show. I didn’t, but as I looked back at everything that happened, it started to make sense. Like, that’s why Marlene told me to do that back in Season 2. I’d been getting hints all along and I didn’t pick up on any of them. But yes, the table read was crazy. Ashley [Benson] and Lucy [Hale] hadn’t read it yet, so as we turned each page, they were like, “What?!” Drew [van Acker] also hadn’t read it, so when the Charles twist was revealed, the biggest question for most of us — and what I’d written in my script — was “Did I sleep with my brother?” The energy was really exciting in the room; no one was eating craft services that day.

TVLINE | Will we see you in the second half of Season 6, or is your story over?
Well, she did all these terrible things, so there have to be consequences. Charlotte and Alison have reconnected by the end of the episode, and we see in the flashforward that Ali stayed in Rosewood. Why did Ali stay and the other girls left? You’d think Alison would have been the first one to high-tail out of there. So it all relates back to what happens with Alison.

TVLINE | How did you approach playing CeCe this time around, knowing that she’s transgender?
There was a lot of thought put into that. I didn’t want to play at being transgender. The villain was being revealed, but evil didn’t exist within Charlotte. It was the neglect, the hurt and all the pain that were put upon her at such a young age that caused her to do bad things. Marlene and I plotted it out: When you see her as CeCe, when you see her as Charlotte and when you see her as Charles. When she first turns around, that’s definitely CeCe, the bad-seed mastermind. Then there are moments where you see Charlotte, who’s just a hurt, sad, broken doll. That’s who you see when her mom visits her and tells her she gets to go to UPenn. And then there’s Charles, who’s a combination of CeCe and Charlotte, good and bad. That’s how we plotted it out. You’re talking about a kid who went through major tragedy before the age of 13; what he learned from his parents was to lie and that human lives don’t matter.

Pretty Little Liars fans, what are your thoughts on the finale (and beyond!) after reading Ray’s take on the character? Drop ’em in a comment below.