The married Disney duo of Kristen Hoetzel and Aljon Go, hosts of the popular “WDW Tiki Room” show on Sorcerer Radio recently interviewed actor Ian Harding of ABC Family’s original hit show Pretty Little Liars. Harding plays the role of Ezra Fitz, Rosewood High’s new English teacher and is every girl’s fantasy. He’s cute, young – and totally off-limits. Ezra knows better than to get involved with one of his students but the heart wants what it wants. Question is does Ezra have the strength to keep his desires in check? On the outside he’s the picture of the very proper teacher – but on the inside there lies a passion that could be his downfall.
Harding was born in Heidelberg, Germany, the youngest child of a military family. The family moved back to northern Virginia a few years later, where he excelled in soccer and basketball. In high school, he joined the drama club (because it was the only coed activity at his all-male preparatory school) and discovered a new passion, something he continued to pursue at Carnegie Mellon University.
Harding’s feature credits include Greg Mottola’s “Adventureland” and the upcoming Ed Zwick film “Love and Other Drugs.” He also recently appeared in an episode of “NCIS: Los Angeles.”
WDW Tiki Room: Why do you think people love Ezra and Aria’s relationship so much?
Ian Harding: I think because it’s so right, and like there’s a connection that is undeniable and kind of once in a lifetime. But I think the problem is the circumstances; it’s that kind of element of forbidden love that it needs to happen, but oh it can’t happen, and so it’s them trying to work it out and trying so hard to just make this love happen. I think people can really relate to that and really love that.
WDW Tiki Room: Has there been any change in the atmosphere on set going into this highly anticipated second season?
Ian Harding: Not too much. I think everybody is really excited to be there and is really gung ho and enthusiastic, and really just works there they brought off, but I think everybody’s just happy to be there. It’s like a very relaxed set and judging from people who have done this for a while, they’re like kind of the elders, if you will, of the whole production, they said that this is one of the most relaxed, fun, happy sets to be on. So I think we’re just continuing on that path for season two.
WDW Tiki Room: Was there a time in your own life when, like Ezra, you were attracted to somebody that you couldn’t have or you shouldn’t have.
Ian Harding: I feel like everybody goes through that in their life, and definitely there was a moment when I got out here to Los Angeles and I was newly single and I thought this one person was just amazing, and she was also an actress. I know that she was kind of in a relationship at the time and I was like oh no this is so wrong, this is so wrong, and then once I finally got to know the person I realized that oh it was not who I thought they were. But yes, I think that’s probably the most or the worst kind of love obsession that I’ve had recently.
WDW Tiki Room: Do you have a guilty pleasure TV show that you wouldn’t mind telling us about?
Ian Harding: I haven’t watched it recently, but a few months ago I got into this show, Bully Beat Down, which I just thought was like—some of my friends back home said you have to watch this show it’s fantastic. I’m like oh this sounds so stupid, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But it’s basically this bully gets beat up by a professional MMA fighter and the people that he bullies are sitting there watching it happen, and as sick as it is you can’t really turn away. So that has been my most recent guilty pleasure.
WDW Tiki Room: What has been your favorite scene or episode to shoot and why?
Ian Harding: The last episode where I left Rosewood High School was a lot of fun to shoot because it was with all the girls and they would try and distract me. I would try and distract them, and it was just quite funny—because it was so like heartfelt and everything we made light of it in between takes by ridiculing each other.
WDW Tiki Room: Ezra obviously reads a lot, and I was wondering if you happen to read as much as Ezra does and what are your favorite books?
Ian Harding: I do read a lot. He reads a bunch of random stuff, like all around his apartment he’ll have something like the economy of 1923 England, which I would never read in my life. But I do read quite a bit, and I just finished a few books. I finished this book called Painters that was a Pulitzer Prize Winner. I’m going to start reading Just Kids by Patti Smith sometime soon. I’m all over the place, something that peaks my interest I’ll read it. And I get up and I have to read every day, because if not my mind just goes to mush.
WDW Tiki Room: What else do you do when you’re not on set?
Ian Harding: I try to cook. I have like a bunch of little hobbies, I do the usual; I read, I hang out with friends, I see movies. I love, love, love movies, so I do a lot of that. Learning to cook is very interesting/dangerous, so that’s something that I do most of the time. But like pick up where I left off in the German language, because at one point I knew it and now I’ve forgotten it. So I just keep busy in between shooting and auditions and press junkets, but yes, just kind of simple things.
WDW Tiki Room: Since cooking is something I (Kristen) love to do. Do you have a favorite dish you like to make?
Ian Harding: Oh man, oh I hate this question, because there are many a things that I would like to cook. Well I suppose baking is not the same as cooking, but kind of. I’m able to make a really good shortbread that was pretty amazing recently. What else did I do recently? Oh man. I made this amazing kind of raw beet and pear salad with mint and all this other stuff. I haven’t been cooking a lot of meat recently, but I used to a long time, I did make this mean standing rib roast that was practically just Jell-O. And actually that sounds kind of nasty, but it was so tender that you could eat it with a spoon. So there are several that I’ve made that are I would say my choice recipes.
WDW Tiki Room: Did you imagine Pretty Little Liars being as big as it has gotten?
Ian Harding: I knew that it would do well, only because—well actually no, I guess you don’t even know that. I knew that it had like a built in fan base, so the probability of it being a hit was higher than usual, but I didn’t know that it would be this kind of sensation that it is and get the ratings that it does and be as big as it is abroad. Like when last summer I was in Europe and I was recognized in every city that I went to, which is something that I would never expect with this. So it’s pretty surreal, and I’m kind of happy with the level that it’s at right now.
WDW Tiki Room: If you could give Ezra one piece of advice what would it be?
Ian Harding: Oh man, oh I would give him the whole book of advice. Can that be my one piece of advice? Honestly, I would just say follow your heart, which sounds so cliché. Well it is cliché. But because he over thinks things and gets really neurotic about things, and as a result that can sometimes make him act out in weird ways and put unwanted strain on the relationship. And it’s like he’s already in it, he already loves this girl, so just go for it.
WDW Tiki Room: Do you watch the episodes when they come on? Like what do you find your reactions are to the episode in its entirety?
Ian Harding: I don’t like watching myself, per se, because I’m very critical of what I do and I just feel like I can see through me. But I do think showing support to the writers and the other cast members, like looking at their work and being able to discuss it later or coming in and saying to a director hey I thought that was really great or wow I didn’t think the scene was going to turn out that way. Especially when someone is just kind of starting out like me, I think it’s important to watch your work not in a critical or in an overly praiseful—I think I just made that word up, praiseful kind of way. But just to look at it for what it is and be able to view your work as kind of an objective piece of art. I think that’s probably the best thing to do.
WDW Tiki Room: If you were not an actor what would you be doing?
Ian Harding: I’d probably be dead. No, I don’t know. Psychology and helping people have always been an interest of sorts, like I love, I don’t want to say therapy, but I love psychology and all that. So maybe a psychiatrist, but I don’t know if I have the patience to keep going in every day for years on end for somebody to figure out one thing about themselves. So I don’t know what I’d be doing, probably manual labor.
WDW Tiki Room: Do you have any upcoming projects outside of Pretty Little Liars?
Ian Harding: We shoot clear through to December, and I’ve been auditioning and doing other things and kind of getting ready for the hiatus and anything that may come that way. But on the horizon I’m just kind of auditioning and still putting my face out here in Los Angeles, because in the grand scheme of things I’m very new; this was like the first pilot that I auditioned for. So I show up to a casting director’s office and I’ll be in a room with people that I recognize, like all of them are young, established actors, and I’m kind of I wouldn’t say green, but I’m simply new. So there are definitely things on the horizon. There have been a few close calls that have happened these past few months, but right now I’m just kind of doing the daily grind and loving it.
WDW Tiki Room: How did you feel when you saw that your name and your character’s name have been trending on Twitter for the last couple weeks?
Ian Harding: Wow. Yes. I had no idea what that meant. My sister told me that hey you’re trending on Twitter, and I said oh that’s cool, are you coming over later? It just didn’t register with me, and then once I realized that oh this is something that’s worldwide like wow that’s really crazy. I felt really blessed. And it’s good that I think Twitter has really affected this show and it has really helped with its popularity, so if I’m somehow a part of that then great.
“I got into this show, ‘Bully Beat Down’… as sick as it is you can’t really turn away. So that has been y most recent guilty pleasure.”
WDW Tiki Room: Do you hang out with any of your co-stars off set?
Ian Harding: I do. Torrey and I, Torrey DeVitto and I have become very good friends. I see Keegan; Keegan actually literally helped me move into my new apartment, so I see Keegan fairly regularly.
WDW Tiki Room: During the shooting what has been the most challenging thing for you as an actor to do?
Ian Harding: That is really interesting, because I think that because TV is incredibly different from everything that I have experienced up to this point, because I did theater most of my life prior to this, it’s just the kind of just do it mentality. Like where, for instance, a scene like kind of scared me, I’m trying to think of—oh, okay, let’s say it’s like a shirtless scene or let’s say it’s a really intimate scene, I think the biggest challenge is not over thinking it, which I can totally do. I can over think like oh well we could be doing this in the scene and blah, blah, blah, blah, and ultimately the biggest challenge has just been kind of letting go and surrendering to the situation, to the moment. And as kind of Hallmark channel as that sounds, not to say anything about the Hallmark channel, but you just have to do it. So I think letting go has been the biggest challenge so far in this whole process.
WDW Tiki Room: If there was anyone who you could bring onto the show or who could guest star that you would like to work with who would it be?
Ian Harding: I mean nobody that I actually think would come on to the show. I’m a big fan of right now Carey Mulligan or Marion Cotillard. I just saw Beginners with Christopher Plumber and Ewan McGregor, and I would love for them to come on the show, but I don’t think that’s going to pan out.
So somebody maybe a bit more realistic, like I don’t know somebody from Modern Family that would be great. Jesse Tyler Ferguson is hysterical; I’d love for him to have like a walk on scene stealing moment in Pretty Little Liars.
Be sure to see Pretty Little Liars every Tuesday 8/7c on ABC Family!
Pretty Little Liars Official Site:
Hear excerpts from this interview on the “WDW Tiki Room – The show about ALL THINGS DISNEY” with hosts Kristen Hoetzel and Aljon Go on Sorcerer Radio – LINK.
*This interview is made in partnership with Sorcerer Radio, Chip and Company and ABC Family.
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