Torrey DeVitto is the first to admit she's brought to life some of TV's most unhinged characters. From One Tree Hill's crazy Carrie to Pretty Little Liars' manipulative Melissa, she's never really played someone you'd choose to spend time with. Until now.
Starting Sunday, DeVitto makes her Army Wives debut as Maggie, a mother of two and former soldier who moves to Fort Marshall with her family. While the role marks the start a new professional phase for DeVitto, fans of her Pretty Little Liars and Vampire Diaries characters will be happy to hear she will continue to triple drip, remaining one of TV's most in-demand players.
ETonline: We haven't met Maggie yet as the season premiere dealt heavily with the death of Claudia Joy, so tell me, what appealed to you about this character?
Torrey DeVitto: I kept telling my manager that I really wanted the next thing I did to be for a more mature audience. Something where I could play more my age. Then I got offered this part, which is not only for a more mature audience, but also gives me a 12-year-old son and a 14-year-old stepchild. I was like, ask and ye shall receive.
ETonline: When you get the character breakdown, do you take a second to do the math? Like, could you have a 12-year-old?
DeVitto: Yes! It's funny, my mom asked the same thing. The character is 30-years-old, so she got married young and pregnant quickly. I just think people are so used to seeing me on shows like Vampire Diaries and Pretty Little Liars, which are more geared toward teens. But in reality, I could have a 12-year-old kid. That's why I was excited to play a more mature, older character. I also loved how tough she was. She rides a motorcycle and is ex-airborne herself. Maggie is a character who I would want to be friends with in real life.
ETonline: Is that the first time you've said that?
DeVitto: [laughs] Yeah. Yeah.
ETonline: The season-long teaser shows your character getting into a bar fight, so how does she gel with the other wives at Fort Marshall?
DeVitto: It's interesting because Maggie kind of walks on eggshells around some of the characters. They're a little more clean cut and she doesn't know how to fit into that mold. She doesn't take any BS, says what needs to be said and has this tough exterior, but the bar fight is actually her standing up for one of the other girls.
ETonline: Army Wives is one of the few TV shows that represents a very large, real-world community. What kind of research did you do to fully understand their unique experience?
DeVitto: I was really fortunate because the producers have been so accommodating with providing us with any type of interviews we wanted. I met a lot of women who were not only wives but in the service themselves. Also, my aunt is a wife, a mother and a senior chief petty officer in the Navy. Her husband is in the service, and then I have cousins and an uncle in the Air Force, so I've grown up around that. I have so much respect for people in the service. The mental strength it takes to do what they do is unbelievable.
ETonline: Looking ahead, what are you excited for people to see with the addition of Maggie?
DeVitto: I'm excited because I truly think my character offers a lot of different ways for different kinds of women to relate. There are a lot of women in this country who are trying to make a blended family work. Then there are so many women trying to juggle being a mom and in the service. And so many moms will be able to relate to the struggles of being a single mother when Maggie's husband gets deployed. I'm proud to be playing a character that I think a lot of women in America will be able to relate to.
ETonline: Army Wives, like PLL, TVD and OTH, has a very passionate following. What's it like to be on shows that elicit such strong reactions from fans?
DeVitto: Oh my gosh, you have no idea. My mom was in Charleston with me [where Army Wives is filmed] and this happens to be a college town. She always says that no one would believe how many times I still get approached about One Tree Hill. Especially amongst college kids. I'm telling you, nine out of ten times, when people approach me, it's for nanny Carrie. That character does not go away. It's insane. I remember this one time when I was first doing One Tree Hill, which was before Twitter and all that, I was mid-change at the gym -- in my freakin' bra in the locker room --when this girl comes up to me, so pissed off, and shouts, "You're ruining everything!" [laughs] Then she just stormed off. There's a lot more people out there than you would think who cannot differentiate between TV and reality. I do think there's a lot of people out there who think I'm a nasty human being. Then there's all the people who are madly in love with my husband who are like, "How could he be with Nanny Carrie!?!? I don't understand."
ETonline: I know you haven't, but it kinda feels like you've gone out of your way to play polarizing characters.
DeVitto: I know! I know! It's so true. For the record, at no point did I sit down with me team and say, "Psychos only please." It's just happened that way [laughs]. And now, Melissa just gets more and more mysterious.
ETonline: What can you say about her role in Tuesday's Pretty Little Liars finale?
DeVitto: Not much. But I can say, you have not seen the end of Melissa. You will see her again -- whether it's in the finale or next season, I can't tell you ... but it's not over by any stretch.
ETonline: Obviously you can never play a character as "a villain" -- so how do you approach your performance as Melissa?
DeVitto: I've sympathized with Melissa from the beginning. I mean, her sister stole her fiance and her boyfriend, then she lost her baby. I've always been able to come at her from a more sympathetic place then the fans do. But it's funny what you say about choices, because I will always make a choice and then I'll film the episode, then I'll get the next script and something will be revealed about Melissa that throws all the choices I made out the window [laughs]. They don't tell us much, so we're going script to script. I've never played a character who changes so much every single week. I remember the episode where she found Spencer and you saw a sympathetic side to her, so you think it could all be a big misunderstanding and all the bad things she's done could have been totally misconstrued. Then you see something else and you’re like, "Nevermind, she's up to no good." [laughs]
Army Wives airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on Lifetime, while Pretty Little Liars airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on ABC Family and The Vampire Diaries airs Thursdays at 8 p.m.