Troian Bellisario on the Pretty Little Liars Season Premiere: "It's Basically a Pilot for a New Show"

Actress arrives at People's Choice Awards 2016 at Microsoft Theater on January 6, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.
Photo: Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

The Liars are back! And boy, have they grown up. Pretty Little Liars returns with its Season 6 winter premiere tonight at 8 p.m. ET on Freeform (formerly ABC Family), and we can’t wait to see what the show’s five-year time jump has in store.

The series picks up long after Rosewood’s core crew—Aria, Spencer, Hanna, Emily, and Alison (played by Lucy Hale, Troian Bellisario, Ashley Benson, Shay Mitchell, and Sasha Pieterse)—finally learned the identity of their longtime tormenter, “A.” So now that the show’s biggest mystery has been revealed, what can we expect from the new season? InStyle caught up with Bellisario last week, and she filled us in.

“The cool thing about what you are going to see on Tuesday is that it’s basically a pilot for a new show,” Bellisario said when she hopped on the phone to discuss her upcoming horror movie, Martyrs (out Jan. 22). “It’s the same characters, the same world, and there will be a lot of the same mysteries, but we get a totally new context for them and a totally new way of being in the world with these girls—and that is going to be completely different.”

As for how Bellisario thinks viewers will respond to the changes: “I hope that people are satisfied with it being the same but different,” she said. “I’m really excited to see how the fans react.” And react, they will. Because when it comes to Pretty Little Liars, the diehard fans have opinions on everything.

“Everybody is freaking out because I got bangs, which I think is one of the funniest things ever,” Bellisario said. “I had never cut or dyed my hair really in my entire life, and the girls have all done different things with their hair over the course of the six years. Lucy and Ashley have already cut their hair super short, so for them it was like, ‘Do we keep it longer or short?’ Everybody has dyed their hair different colors, so when it came time to do something different, it was like, what do I do?”

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Bellisario channeled her straight-laced character when making the final decision. “I thought, ‘Spencer will be boring and just get bangs or something,’” she said. “And then all of the sudden, there was this picture and everybody freaked out because Spencer had bangs. I was like, ‘You guys, we did this as the most boring choice ever—why is everyone freaking out about bangs?’ I did not anticipate that!”

While Spencer’s new 'do may have gotten some attention, that’s not the only thing that has changed about her look now that the show has jumped five years forward. “She is definitely much more elegant in her style, and she’s much more subtle because she’s working every day,” said Bellisario. “She’s not getting dressed up and going to school in any crazy outfits anymore—she’s trying to fit in with the work force and really establish her career.”

To do so, Spencer has also embraced a much more natural beauty look. “I was actually very grateful that I got to wear a lot less makeup,” said Bellisario. “I don’t really feel comfortable wearing a lot of makeup in my every day life. Whenever people try to make me look pretty, it makes me feel funny and not like myself—which is great for [playing] Spencer in the world of Pretty Little Liars, because it is a different world. And I know when I’m made up and looking perfect that I am Spencer.”

Still, Bellisario prefers to be less “done,” and she was happy to play a grittier-looking character in Martyrs. “I would much rather be down in the dirt and the blood of reality and just look like a normal human being,” she said. “To me, that is more fun.”

Tune into the season premiere of Pretty Little Liars Tuesday, Jan. 12, at 8 p.m. ET on Freeform.

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