Drew Van Acker talks to The Insider about what it was like taking over for Parker Bagley as Jason DiLaurentis on ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars. Do you prefer the creepy underwear model version of Jason? He lets fans know what we can expect from Jason for the rest of the season. Is Jason as evil as he seems? And what about those pictures of Aria?
I think a lot of people in Rosewood think he’s this demon, this bad guy – and he’s really not. He’s looking for a lot of things, he’s looking for clarity in his life. There was confusion about what happened with Alison, and I know he seems guilty and creepy. But I think he’s trying to put the puzzle together just like everyone else is.
TheInsider: Were you nervous coming in as a replacement for Parker Bagley (who played Jason in season one)?
Drew Van Acker: There was a little hesitancy but the producers assured me they didn’t want me to try and do what he did – they wanted a fresh perspective on Jason, so I felt very comfortable doing my own thing.
Insider: And what is that perspective? How do you see Jason?
Drew: Misunderstood. I think a lot of people in Rosewood think he’s this demon, this bad guy – and he’s really not. He’s looking for a lot of things, he’s looking for clarity in his life. There was confusion about what happened with Alison, and I know he seems guilty and creepy. But I think he’s trying to put the puzzle together just like everyone else is.
Insider: You know, I was all for giving Jason the benefit of the doubt … and then we saw his darkroom.
Drew: I know. When I first read that scene, I started laughing. Like, why wouldn’t they put that into the script. But it all gets explained, so it’s ok.
Insider: Yea, your boss Marlene King told me the same thing. So when all is explained, do you feel that Jason’s more creepy tendencies make more sense?
Drew: I do. I think once they’re explained you kind of see that he’s not this creepy scary guy. As the season goes on, he has motives for things he’s doing and he’s tried to move away from the guy he used to be.
Insider: Lots of actors get into the business by modeling, you are no exception. Was this always your plan?
Drew: Acting was always something I wanted to do but being from a small town, it never felt like a possibility. It never sat in the back of my mind as a goal of what I would do. Then one day someone approached me about modeling, and said that it’s a good way to break into acting, but I was so naive so I said why not.
Insider: Plenty of people talk about the scuzzy side of the modeling world, what was your impression?
Drew: I had a lot of fun. I didn’t know what I was doing though. I had no idea what to expect at the time. I didn’t even know guys could model. I definitely had a good time and it helped me pay the bills. But, yea, it can get a little sketchy but for me, it was pretty straightforward.
Insider: That being said, when I first heard a ‘former underwear model’ was joining the show, I thought — this poor kid is gonna be naked every single week. But PLL has shown remarkable restraint in getting you shirtless.
Drew: I know, right? Marlene and I talked about that – they don’t want me shirtless in every episode. It’s been good.
Insider: What can you tease about these final few summer season episodes?
Drew: Things between Jason and Aria heat up and after the darkroom incident — and her friends are not happy about it. But like I said, he truly does care for her. Jason truly does have feelings for Aria. He’s not trying to do anything but get to know her and I think everyone is very suspicious of that. Everyone wants Aria to snap out of it and see that Jason is a bad guy. He could have murdered his sister, but we’ll see that he has motives for everything he’s doing and the choices he’s made. You’ll see that he’s more misunderstood than malevolent – he might even be trustworthy.