Pretty Little Liars’ Troian Bellisario

After what feels like forever, Pretty Little Liars has finally returned to give us the second half of Season 7. To celebrate the revival and final season of our guilty (or not so guilty) pleasure, we caught up with the show’s star Troian Bellisario. We sat down with Bellisario to talk ideal food days, why a healthy body image is so important, and even got the scoop on her upcoming film Clara. Read below for the full interview; it’s the perfect start to your Tuesday…

From start to finish, what would be your ideal food day?

An ideal food day would be a day in which I listened to my body: when I didn’t go too long without eating, overstuffed myself, freaked-out on a friend as a result of low blood sugar, and everything I ate left me feeling energized and clean. Doesn’t that sounds amazing? But it’s tough, making sure you eat well, regularly and consciously in today’s crazy world. I know I’m not the only one with a crazy schedule!

So, I guess to achieve this, I try to eat simple healthy whole foods; they don’t take a lot of prep and can be taken on the go. I love a thick greek yogurt in the morning with fruit and a nut butter.  Sometimes on a Sunday, I will make a big batch of steel cut oats and then put it in the refrigerator. Then, each morning, you take a little bit with some almond milk and raisins or dates and heat it back up; it’s so easy to take it in a jar to work (with any toppings you like) and it’s warm and gives you energy for a long time. I’ll do the same thing on a Sunday with a big salad of kale with my favorites – avocado and sweet potato. I’ll make it on a Sunday with some lemon juice and leave it in the fridge and then make a dressing that I can add later. Usually for protein I’ll add boiled eggs or nuts and seeds. For dinner, I love sushi or a perfect piece of fish.

I know for some people this might sound like a boring day, or a day they have read about in some magazine in the nail salon like eight times, but when my life gets hectic usually food is the first thing I like to organize so that it doesn’t stress me out. If I have an audition and three meetings – and I have to make a flight after working all night – I can’t waste any mental energy by allowing myself to get to the point of hunger and then asking myself what I want to eat. Sometimes it is nice to just have all of that food prepared. I know it will sustain me and leave me feeling full and I can focus on other things. 

But that is ideally, as in the perfection of health. I would also ideally love to have french toast and eggs every morning and then ice cream later.

How do you practice beauty from the inside out?

Listen to your body. I am horrible at this, but I’m trying to get better. I need to learn that when I have not gotten enough sleep, maybe I should not wake up and go on a run. Maybe it would be better for my body to get that extra hour of sleep. Maybe I don’t need that third cup of coffee, because I will not feel any more awake, I’ll just get shaky and hyper. Again, I am horrible at this, but I feel like the key to beauty and health is listening to your body and giving it what it needs, not always what you think it wants.


What are your morning and nightly beauty routines?

At the end of the day, taking off my makeup is an important routine. I usually use a Burt’s Bee’s make up wipe to start. Then I wash my face with a Clarin’s facial cleanser, sometimes I will also use their exfoliator afterwards. If it’s been a long week with a lot of makeup, I will use an Origin’s Rose Clay or Charcoal mask to clean out my pores and then I will use a hydrating serum (Clarin’s) before using an oil to sleep in. I am also a fiend for eye cream; I love Kihel’s.

When I wake up in the morning, because I have done a lot the night before and hopefully overnight my skin has taken it all in, I don’t wash it off. I read that you have a lot of natural oils that get produced overnight that are good for your skin, so you don’t want to strip them away by washing when you wake up. I just splash cold water on my face and make sure I have sunscreen on before I go out. If I have not had enough sleep (which is almost always), I will use a Skyn Iceland eye gel peel to try to calm down my eyes before work.

We’ve loved you on Pretty Little Liars – any fun stories you can share from the set? Any set secrets you can share?

Thank you! I wish I could share the secrets but then what kind of friend would I be? I guess the most fun we had was on night shoots, even though they were exhausting. We shot in the “jungle” of Warner Brothers a lot, which really is not that big of a space, just a bunch of trees in pots behind the studios. So anytime we were running through the woods in PLL, it would actually be the same 10-15 feet of trees, and we would just run back and forth in different directions a lot and pretend to be lost. Those nights would be cold and long, so the girls and I would get pretty punchdrunk. I don’t think I have ever laughed harder at the most ridiculous things than on a Fraturday at 4AM while pretending to be terrified for Spencer’s life.

How do you get into character?

It really depends on the scene. If it is was a pretty standard PLL Spencer scene (like one where I was accusing yet another person of definitely being A), there is a not a lot of prep. You just have to listen, be present and know your lines. The more emotional scenes I would take a little more time, listen to music or try to get quiet and concentrate. Sometimes it would help to not talk to the other person in the scene, or sometimes I would talk to them a lot…like with Keegan or Tyler, we would talk about experiences we have had in our lives that felt similar to the scene we were in, breakups, failures; it creates a sense of intimacy and freedom for expression.

My favorite scenes were the scenes without any dialogue or people! Where Spencer (or any character I play) has only an action or a task. For example, Spencer takes Adderall and attempts to expose Ezra as a fraud. Scenes like that are wonderful, to me, because, they are purely behavioral and active. You have a set of circumstances for your physical experience (what does that drug feel like, how are you moving, breathing, thinking, what’s your thirst level, core temperature…etc) and then how is that affecting your action (searching on the computer, pacing the room, stretching, cracking your knuckles, reading articles.) I get very excited about the details and moments of a sequence like that. 

How does your personal style differ from Spencer’s?

I feel that I dress very much like Spencer, or in the same style, except that she seems to find the time and the will to shop for new things constantly. I never shop; I really don’t like it, I get anxiety. Should I buy this? Is that too much money? Are those really shoes I would wear? It’s so annoying to deal with that a lot of the joy gets sucked out of it. So, generally, all of my favorite pieces were gifts or passed along to me from a good friend, my mother or brothers. I like things with stories. I would rather wear an old ripped velvet blouse from the 19th century than a new designer shirt. Who cares about that shirt? Where does it come from? What’s special about it, other than its price and the label inside? But the dress my mother wore when she was pregnant with me? Or a red dress I wore in college on stage as my favorite character in a play? I’ll never throw that away.

Do you have a favorite travel destination? What won’t you travel without?

My two favorite places I have ever been were definitely New Zealand and Iceland. I love places that are wild and new (geologically speaking), and I love camping. Both countries were so overwhelmingly beautiful to me. Beautiful and with kind people, insane rock formations, glaciers, old forests and wild seas. Don’t get me wrong, a hot beach is great (we just came back from Fiji and it was paradise) and I love getting lost in an old city (I am dying to go to Marrakesh) but I will never feel more in awe of our planet than in those countries.

What won’t I travel without? Headphones. Music makes any experience an epic adventure. Just listen to Sigor Ros or Bjork while driving through Iceland… swoon.

Do you have any go-to workout routines?

When I just want to get a good sweat on I will go to a SoulCycle or a dance class.  Nothing makes me feel more alive and sexy than a good dance class, but I also love being outdoors. I love running in new cities when I travel; it’s such a good way to get to know a place. Just get lost on a run. My friend also began training me in Aerial Silks about 3 years ago. Nothing feels more freeing than just going over to his house and playing around on the silks or the hammock to whatever music I want.

How do you work out on the road? On a long set day?

Usually to prepare for a long day on set, I will go on a run. I find breaking a sweat before I arrive will wake me up and make me feel more in my body than if I roll out of bed and into the makeup chair. But if the call time is super early, then I love to end the day with a sunset hike or a yoga class.

When I am on the road I will try to run or look up a new class in the city. Sometimes just trying something new (a class you have never taken or a hike) is a nice way to get out of a hotel room. Sometimes you end up being the worst person in a pop and lock dance class (like I was very recently), and it’s a total blast. If you can laugh and feel good in your body, I think that it a pretty good day.

What’s always in your fridge?

Kombucha…and weird half-finished juices.

What does a healthy body image mean to you? How do you practice that?

It’s always evolving. A healthy body image, to me, means allowing your body to change. If you are in a cold climate, your body wants warmer thicker food. That means your body will look different than in the summer months when the heat or the humidity make you want to eat lighter.  You have to allow your body to change throughout the year and over the years. When you go away on vacation you should enjoy yourself. Will your jeans be tighter after a week of pastries and dessert? Yes, but who cares?! Why would you punish yourself for enjoying your life, why would your deny yourself any beautiful experience because you want to look a certain way?

I find that meditating helps me with any body issues. It reminds me that my thoughts do not define me and just because I have a negative thought about my body (everyone does) it doesn’t mean that you have to act on it or let it define you.

Can you tell us about the new sci-fi drama you’re filming? What is it like to co-star with your husband?

The film is called Clara. It’s a grounded Science Fiction pieces about two people who want to find life elsewhere in the universe and what they learn about their own lives on Earth in the process. I’m a huge grounded Sci-fiction fan. That is, perhaps, my favorite film genre. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good drama, but sometimes by setting something in a world of a slightly elevated or more advanced technology you can explore human relationships in an entirely new and sometimes deeper way. Like how Her or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind could be almost more truthful about the pain of a romantic relationship than any drama set in our normal modern world. There is a feeling to these films, that I find sometimes more emotionally piercing than others. I hope that Clara can achieve that emotional truth. What’s not to like about working with Patrick? He is talented, intelligent, funny, handsome, so that makes my job across from him easy to do, and he is my best friend so every day was a blast.


What prompted you to become involved with the “Bring Back the Bees” campaign?

Call me crazy, but I think that a 44% decline in the Bee population over one year is terrifying.  It’s a sign of the times. We need to do something about climate change. We are destroying the environment. Period. So when BB’s asked me to join them in encouraging people to do something very simple that might bring back the bees (by planting millions of wildflowers around the edges of farms to give the bees more food and encourage their procreation) it was an easy yes.

Are there any nonprofit organizations you are particularly passionate about right now? Why?

I’m passionate about a few: Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto, because those children are the bravest and most beautiful people I have ever met and they are fighters; David Suzuki Foundation for their work to protect the environment and educate people about the issues that are threatening our planet and how we can help.

What are five fashion items you’re coveting right now?

I just got these awesome new kicks from Feit; they are like leather Vans and because the leather isn’t dyed or worked I can’t wait to see how they age and change. I don’t really covet a lot of fashion things. I guess I like what other people wear; all the girls have those round Ray Bans and I love those, but I’m afraid I would look like a weird Johnny Depp in them (not a good Depp, like a Willy Wonka vibe). I want jeans that fit me perfectly and are not uncomfortable and make me look tall and great… do you know what those are? Maybe Mother’s Jeans? I really want (but they are so expensive I could never buy one) a Jackie Aiche body chain; those are cool. I mean, hell, I would get her nipple piercings if I had nipple piercings. Jenny Bird has this beautiful geometric bar ear cuff that is great. And I want more tattoos.

How do you start every day on a positive note? Do you have a go-to breakfast?

I start with meditation, I find a way to move my body and break a sweat and find (or make) a great cup of coffee.

In the same vein as what is the new black in fashion, what’s the new potato right now?

Avocado toast and matcha; I’m seeing a lot of matcha places. I’m not mad at it though; I’m just still addicted to coffee.

Read our interviews with Troian’s PLL costars Shay Mitchell (aka Emily!)  and Ian Harding (aka Ezra!)

*Troian Bellisario, photographed at Cafe Henrie in New York, NY by Danielle Kosann