Jenna Marshall is back—and we couldn’t be any more excited. Tonight, the OG villain played by Tammin Sursok returns to Pretty Little Liars, and if the teaser at the end of last week’s episode was any indication, she’s about to stir up some major drama. Fans of the show are well aware that we haven’t seen Jenna since December 2014—aka, way before the Freeform series jumped ahead five years in the characters’ lives. So, what brings Jenna back to Rosewood? We caught up with Sursok yesterday to find out.
“Jenna’s not coming in just for a hello-goodbye,” she told InStyle. “She’s there to reveal some secrets, cause some trouble, and answer some questions. So she’s there for a very long time, and this is the beginning of a much longer storyline.” And it’s one that involves getting back at the people who she feels wronged her—including Alison DiLaurentis (played by Sasha Pieterse), who was responsible for blinding Jenna in a fire way back in season one. Now that Alison has had her fair share of trauma while held captive in a mental hospital this season, you can bet that Jenna will be gloating. “She definitely does not like Allison,” said Sursok. “She’s very angry at Allison, and she wants to get back at her.”
While the characters might not appreciate facing constant drama (although, let’s be real—by now, they very much invite it into their everyday routines), Sursok has a great time bringing it to life onscreen. “The stories that you’re about to see play out are so fun,” she said. “This is going to be the biggest, most explosive, interesting, and funny season that there’s ever been.” It’s also rumored to be the series’ last, and the chance to bring Jenna full-circle made her return all the more exciting for Sursok. “The show is always very fluid,” she said. “Characters are always making appearances, and coming in and out to cause drama—and I think that’s what the show is all about.”
During the time that Jenna was MIA onscreen, Sursok kept busy IRL. “I took some time off to have my daughter, and I spent a lot of time with her,” said the star, who recently launched her own blog, Bottle & Heels. “But it’s nice to come back and step into the boots of Jenna again and cause some havoc. It’s exciting and it’s salacious—and I think that everyone will be shocked.” Scroll down for our full interview with Sursok, and be sure to catch her triumphant return to Pretty Little Liars tonight at 8 p.m. ET on Freeform.
InStyle: Will we find out what Jenna has been up to in the past five years?
Sursok: Not really—I think you find out some secrets of her past and things she’s done that haven’t been very tasteful in the past couple years, but you don’t find out a lot about what’s been happening. But you do see her involved in a lot of things that have happened to the Liars.
How has Jenna evolved since we last saw her?
You think she’s matured, but she still has a big gripe with the Liars. She definitely wants to get her revenge in some way, and that’s kind of what makes the show so exciting—people with revenge on their minds. You think she’s grown up, but then things kind of start to disassemble.
Has her style changed at all?
She’s got a little more color in her wardrobe—she’s not as macabre. But the signature glasses and the black [outfits] are definitely still there. I don’t think she’s changed completely, but she’s definitely evolved.
What are your personal hopes for Jenna this season?
It’s so funny, because everything that I really wanted to happen to Jenna has already happened, which is really cool. I wanted her to be involved in a bigger storyline and kind of be the reason that some of the things have been happening in Rosewood, and she is. I can’t reveal too much, but the summer finale is really, really big for me—so everything that I wanted to happen to her as a character, ended up playing out.
Jenna was the initial “A” suspect in season one. How does it feel to look back now at all of the other villains that have come along?
It’s funny, because I think she’s actually the victim. She’s definitely been the victim this whole time, but people have always put her in the box of being “A” or the villain. She’s not, though—everyone’s been doing things to her, and I think people might feel sorry for her.
How does it feel to finally no longer be playing a teenager?
It’s kind of crazy! It’s the end of an era. But I’ve grown up—in my own life, I’ve been married for five years and had a child. So it’s time to move on and be in roles that are more mature. It’s exciting—the older you get, the more layered characters you get to play, and that really resonates with me.
What was it like when you first came back to set?
You never know what it’s going to be like after being away for so long, but it was like family. It’s a great set to be on, and everyone’s welcoming with open arms. It was nice to be back, and it’s still nice to be back because I’m still working on the show! As far as we know, it’s the end of an era—and it’s nice to have been there watching the finale.
Do you have a favorite moment from the show over the years?
I love the scene between me and Lucy Hale where Jenna breaks down in the pottery room. I got to show vulnerability, but then, at the end, I’m also quite scary and I make Aria afraid. I love that sort of layered scene, which had so many different emotions that I got to play.
Have you had any crazy fan encounters?
I meet a lot of fans on the street, and some people think I’m blind in real life. I guess it’s kind of a compliment, because it means that I played the character well! So that’s always interesting to me.
What can we expect from the rest of the season?
There’s a lot—it’s kind of like a season finale every day. Because it’s most likely the last season, we’ve put a lot of resources and a lot of time into making every episode really, really strong. Knowing that it’s the end is bittersweet—I think everybody is excited and ready to move on, but also sad at the same time.
What’s next for you?
I just launched my blog, Bottle & Heels, which is about finding the balance between career and motherhood. After my daughter was born, I didn’t really have a network of mothers around me, so I created a forum to communicate about everything from being to a career mother to just being a mother in general. When you have a child, you think that’s your identity completely and you lose the rest of yourself—but you don’t. I think it’s really important to talk about the things that we go through, and I think it’s vital that we have a community around us that supports us.