The timing of Troian Bellisario's 2019 film Where'd You Go, Bernadette couldn't have been more appropriate.
She acted in the film alongside star Cate Blanchett, who played the title character. Troian took on the role of a marine biologist, named Becky, who helps Bernadette on her journey of self-discovery. But watching the completed project, Troian says, the movie took on a whole new meaning.
"While the film was being edited and finalized, I got pregnant, and then had a daughter," Troian tells Teen Vogue about the timing of Where'd You Go, Bernadette, which heads to DVD and Blu-ray on November 26, and is available now on digital. "So I got to see this film for the first time in its final form in a totally different context. Watching the mother-daughter relationship between Bee and Bernadette... so often [in movies] you see a mother and daughter at odds and really pushing against each other. I love the way that [instead] they have true lifelong friendship and support for each other. I hope for a relationship like that with my daughter."
Recently, Troian announced her daughter's name, Aurora, on Instagram to much fanfare. (And yes, she knows it starts with the letter "A," like a certain villainous set of characters on Pretty Little Liars, the show she starred in for seven seasons as Spencer Hastings.) In addition to promoting Where'd You Go, Bernadette and taking care of Aurora, with husband Patrick J. Adams, she's also working on new writing projects and taking on more post-PLL acting roles.
During an interview with Teen Vogue, Troian opened up about what it was like working with Cate, her reflections on PLL, how it's totally not a conspiracy that she and PLL costar Shay Mitchell now have daughters with "A" names, and more.
Teen Vogue: What was the set like on Where'd You Go, Bernadette? Did you have any favorite moments working with Cate?
TB: Oh, my God, yeah. The rehearsal process was really incredible just because I've always, particularly as an actress in theater, looked up to her. So to watch her in her rehearsal process was really fantastic. To see her curiosity and her sense of play was really inspiring to me. And then, when we were shooting in a world heritage site called the Ilulissat Glacier, we had to stop the scene sometimes because a gray whale would come through in between the camera and us on kayaks. So in all of that natural beauty, sitting there trying to do a scene and remember lines across from Cate Blanchett, and then they have to hold for a whale, it was overwhelming on a lot of different levels.
TV: I really enjoyed your 2017 movie Feed, which you wrote and starred in with Tom Felton. Are you doing any more writing, or work on the development side of the industry?
TB: It's been on my mind a lot recently, and I have been writing a little bit. I wrote a pilot with a friend and we're trying to put that together now. So hopefully that will get to move forward. And I have, I think right now it's a play, but I don't know what it's going to be ultimately that I'm working on. Writing is very important to me. It's definitely a love-hate relationship. Because I find that it's very lonely and it's very self-driven, and it's so much easier when the incoming call comes and they're just like, "Hey, we need you to do this job. Would you come do this?" And you're like, "Yes, totally, let's do this!" As opposed to, okay, I have to make time to sit down on my computer and really figure this out. And nobody is pushing me. It's not like anybody's like, "Hey, I'd love to see that thing you're working on."
TV: How do you think about the work you're doing now in the context of your work on Pretty Little Liars? Did working on that show kind of free you up to work on other things you were interested in? How do you look back on that now?
TB: I look back on working on Pretty Little Liars as, I mean, it's wild to think that I spent almost a decade of my life on that show. [Over] seven seasons, it was nine years of working in that world, and I think during the time it really felt like it would never end. But now I look back on it, and I feel as though it went by so quickly. I feel very excited that there's so much that I did on that show. But then at the same time, now it's a very different point in my career where I have to redefine who I am as an actor, as a storyteller.
How do I continue to find those roles that really differentiate me from Spencer and from my experience on [Pretty Little Liars]? Because what I don't want to do is [have] people think, Oh, well she's just doing the same thing. I think it's going to take some time for me to separate myself from that and from people knowing me as that, which I really have no problem with; I'm really excited when people are fans of the show. But I think because so many fans watched the show for so many years, it's going to be hard for them to see me as something else. That will just take time and other roles to reestablish that. I have to be patient.
TV: On the subject of fans of the show: People were very excited when you revealed your daughter's name to be Aurora, and that it starts with an "A." Was that something that you thought about at all?
TB: No. Well, it never crossed my mind until, like, an initial occurred. We were playing in our playroom and I just put A's everywhere, and then I was like, "Oh my God, I've done it to myself!" I have nobody to blame for this, and it's so funny that a motif will crop up in your life totally unconsciously.
TV: How did you choose the name?
TB: We had a different name, and then we were considering boy's names, 'cause we didn't know what sex she was going to be. And we were in Greece, so we were looking at a lot of Greek mythology, and we were like, "Oh, if we have a son, maybe you should name it something having to do with the actual sun." We were looking at the name Helios, and then we thought that Helios had a sister named Eos, and we didn't love Eos. But then we learned in Roman mythology that Eos was Aurora, which is the goddess of the dawn. And we thought it would be nice that she would be our dawning of a new day in our life, and then we were like, "Well, that's, you know, laden and cumbersome and really, like, a lot for a name." So we went back to our other names. [But] Aurora kept on cropping up in both Patrick and my lives. It just wouldn't go away.
But now it's really funny, because I didn't tell him that Aurora... he didn't know that Aurora was a Disney princess's name. I didn't even think of it, honestly. 'Cause I was thinking about it in terms of the historical context. So many people now are like, "Oh, like a Disney princess?" And I feel like Patrick's like, "Ugh."
TV: It's funny too because Shay Mitchell obviously now has a baby who also has an "A" name. People are like, "Is it a conspiracy?" So, is it one?
TB: Oh, that's so funny. No, that is a name that she told me she's had since she was young, so way before Pretty Little Liars. It just happened that we want our children to go with the first of the class and everything, I guess.
TV: What age do you think your daughter will be when you show her Pretty Little Liars?
TB: To be honest, because I grew up in a family that also produced television... we don't see our parents as anything other than our parents. [Editor's note: Troian's mom is actor/producer Deborah Pratt and her dad is Donald P. Bellisario, producer and screenwriter.] Like it was cool to watch my mom on film, but I certainly never wanted to watch her act. I don't know. I hope that that doesn't come off as rude, but I don't imagine that Aurora would want to see my work on Pretty Little Liars, or Patrick's work on Suits. I don't think she'll care. She'll be like, "That's weird, you're mom, you're there on the TV. Okay. Weird." So I don't imagine me sitting her down and showing her. Hopefully, it will just be something that she will come upon at the right time, and probably not care about at all.
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Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue