Unlike Pretty Little Liars, the not-so-dead girl came back to the world of the living within a few episodes on Freeform’s The Perfectionists. However, Taylor Hotchkiss’ journey back to life was anything but easy.
Taylor Hotchkiss (Hayley Erin) is perhaps the most fascinating and mysterious new character on Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists season 1. Already, in just 10 episodes, it feels like we’ve seen Taylor have three separate personalities, leaving viewers unsure of where her character could be headed.
From her brother’s untimely murder to learning of her father’s murder (in front of her eyes!), it’s not hard to understand why Taylor, at the end of the season, has reached her breaking point (yet again, from what we’ve learned). However, with the few questions that were answered about Taylor’s past and her mental health history, more questions have sprung to mind.
For fans hoping to find answers to their questions about Taylor Hotchkiss below, you may be disappointed: Hayley Erin is just as in the dark as we are now. That said, Hayley does dish a bit about how she was instructed to play her role, knowing so little about her, and what she hopes to see in Taylor’s future should the show be renewed for a second season.
Breaking it down with Hayley Erin from ‘The Perfectionists’
Hypable: Did you originally audition to play Taylor?
Hayley Erin: Yes, I did, and it was exciting because I didn’t really have much information. The one thing they said was, “She looks like [Alison DiLaurentis], and she’s kind of like Ali.” So I was like, “Are we talking first season Ali? Are we talking second season Ali?” I think, actually, that’s what I asked when I went in the room. I was like, “Ali’s got a long journey. Which kind of Ali are we talking here?”
What season did they tell you to mimic?
A little bit towards the beginning. Originally, when I auditioned, one of the audition scenes, it was never in the show, but it was super bitchy, so it was really fun to play.
Was Taylor Hotchkiss the character you expected she would be, or did it take a turn in later episodes, as she began to unravel?
Yeah, she was so interesting and dynamic, that I never really expected things to go where they went, especially in [The Perfectionists season 1, episode 9]. It was really fun. I was always glued to the scripts as soon as they came in. It was a fun journey for me to go on not knowing, ‘What am I doing this week? It’s so different than last week.’
Speaking of [The Perfectionists season 1, episode 9], why do you think Taylor shot Jeremy?
I think it’s a cool thing. We learned a little bit more in the bonus scene that we got in [The Perfectionists season 1, episode 10]. Taylor’s entire journey, this season, was to avenge her brother’s death, and she never got to feel that sort of satisfaction with her father. We learned that she created Beacon Guard sort of to try to honor him and to protect everyone else, and she failed her brother. That was her one purpose, so she’s just consumed by revenge, and she found someone that she could carry out her revenge on and feel like she could avenge her brother’s name, and she went for it. All the power to her.
Do you think that this was her hitting rock bottom, or do you think, if we get more episodes, she’ll continue to go further down the rabbit hole?
I think what we’ve learned about her is that she’s very capable of hitting rock bottom multiple times. There’s no solid rock bottom that Taylor can hit, so what’s fun is that I think, now, she’s going to be on a path of rehabilitation, which just opens up the door to drop down to some sort of new low in the coming years.
I was disappointed that we didn’t get to see Taylor’s reaction in the aftermath of shooting Jeremy. With Taylor gone during the introduction of this new villain and their plan, do you think that she’ll now be less out of the circle, kind of like Mona was with the Liars on the original show?
I think, because she’s so involved and because of Ali’s loyalty to her, she will be brought back into the loop, but it’s a question of how and when. If she’s going to be at this retreat, how is she going to be brought back into the circle? I don’t doubt that it’ll happen, but lots of questions, only more questions.
That’s Pretty Little Liars.
Was there any importance to that bonus scene? Aside from Taylor finally getting to say goodbye, [is there] anything fans should look out for in that scene?
As a fan myself, what I thought was really interesting was some of my favorite parts of the original PLL was when Ali would visit the girls in their dreams and hallucinations, so I thought it was a cool parallel to that kind of feeling, where we later found out Ali was still alive. Now, I’m thinking, ‘Well, maybe it’s some sort of foreshadowing.’ I watch and read most things, just like everyone else. I don’t have any sort of special insight, other than what I perceive, so that’s what I’m going with. I think it’s a cool kind of homage to the original series.
Unlike the other characters on the show, Taylor didn’t have much romance in her life. Is that something you’d want to see explored, or would you rather her focus stay on herself and the mystery?
I think what’s interesting is, especially in my own life, I always find romance when I’m least looking for it, so it would be an interesting way to kind of throw a wrench in Taylor’s plan, because she is so dead-set and goal-driven when it comes to everything with her brother and this mystery, so it’d be a fun way to spice things up and make it even more interesting. I’d love a love interest.
A lot of fans have speculated that Taylor might not be straight, and they’ve picked up some romantic vibes between Taylor and both Alison and Mona. Have you had any conversations with [creator I. Marlene King] about Taylor’s past? Would you be interested in exploring Taylor’s sexuality and possibly having her be an LGBT character?
Yeah, I think it would be awesome. There’s nothing more interesting than a love triangle, so I’d be all about that love triangle. It’s definitely felt like there is an attraction between Ali and Taylor, so I can only speak from Taylor to Ali, but I love the scenes in the student union, during that faculty party when Taylor sees Ali with the guy, and something is jealous inside of her. It’s an interesting route to go down.
I love that we only barely, barely, barely touched the surface, so it leaves a lot to be desired. I think the characters of Taylor and Mona play off each other so well. There’s nothing better than going from enemies to lovers, so there’s an unlimited amount of options, really, where we could go, and I’m game.
Who has been your favorite cast member or character to play opposite of?
It was always such a pleasure, especially early on, that I shared all of my scenes with Sasha [Pieterse]. She was so welcoming, and just really fun to play with, but I also was so surprised by the dynamic between Taylor and Mona. That might have been one of my favorites. I think it was kind of unexpected and a little spicy.
If or when the show returns for a second season, what would you be most excited to explore with Taylor?
I would love to see who she is when she comes out of this retreat. Is she going to be back on the straight and narrow? Is she going to be well-behaved, or is she going to have even more blood lust? Her character has been developed in such a fascinating way, that things have been revealed so slowly, the drip feed of the character, that I’m just excited to see what else we can learn about her past and how that affects her future actions more.
Would you like to see a flashback scene between Taylor, Nolan, and Claire?
Absolutely. I think, because it was such a major part of the original series, flashbacks have always been something that I thought would be so fun to explore. Again, with Dylan, when Taylor came into Mona’s house and was introduced to the gang, she and Dylan know each other, so I’d be really interested to explore how they know each other and what their relationship was before all of this happened. I think there’s a lot of potential for flashbacks, so that’d be really interesting.
What was the experience like to step into this established universe? Was there a lot of pressure? Was it intimidating?
I think any of the pressure was pressure I put on myself, because the fans, and especially Marlene, and all of the producers and writers, [the cast], everyone’s been so welcoming. I put a lot of pressure on myself to give the people what they deserve, but [there’s been] no pressure internally. It’s just been a really fun ride, and I hope that we get to keep doing it for a long time to come.
Me too! Who is your favorite [OG] Pretty Little Liar, and why?
I always loved Spencer. I thought Spencer was really… She’s funny, and so smart, and I always really enjoyed her story line.
If there was one character from the original show that you could bring to Beacon Heights and have Taylor interact with, who would it be?
That’s such a good question. I would be really interested to see either… I mean, it would be very interesting to see what would happen if Emily came to town, so that’s definitely on the top of my list. Then maybe Hanna. I feel like Hanna and Taylor would be really funny together.
What do you think of the new villain’s name, “The Professor”?
I love it. I think it’s just creepy enough, and so appropriate.
Any news on season 2?
I wish, yeah. We’re waiting, just like everyone else, so looking forward to hearing soon. Hopefully.
Fingers, toes, all limbs crossed.
Stay tuned to Hypable for any updates about the future of Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists!