Film & TV

Gregg Sulkin on ‘Pretty Little Liars,’ Fighting Off Cougars, & His David Beckham Encounter

Film & TV

Gregg Sulkin on ‘Pretty Little Liars,’ Fighting Off Cougars, & His David Beckham Encounter

by Harleymoon Kemp
by Harleymoon Kemp

Gregg Sulkin would like you to think that he’s just a regular bloke who doesn’t say things like bloke, but starring alongside Helena Bonham Carter when you’re just thirteen, and having over 400,000 Twitter followers doesn’t strike us as our version of regular. The British actor currently plays the mysteriously broody Wesley on ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars, but he first made waves on Disney Channel’s Wizards of Waverly Place, playing Selena Gomez’s werewolf boyfriend Mason. When he’s not preoccupied by his burgeoning career, Sulkin is either hanging out with friends or dedicating entire weekends to opening mountainous piles of fan mail. We recently chatted with Sulkin about his future on Pretty Little Liars, the impending Wizards reunion, and the crazy gifts he gets from fans.

Your character on Pretty Little Liars is somewhat of a trouble maker. He’s already stirred up quite a bit of drama. Are you anything like him?
Well, it’s harsh to call Wesley a troublemaker after the two episodes that have aired. I think after you see a few more episodes you can judge that more fairly.

But from what’s been revealed so far, it seems like he’s had a bit of a shady and mysterious past.
Well, I like to be mysterious, but I’d also like to think that I’m a very nice human being. I’m a nice son, a good brother, and a good friend, so I wouldn’t like to call myself a trouble maker. I do like to have fun, but I take my work and my friendships very seriously as well.

So then how would you describe Wesley?
Well, as more episodes come out you’ll see that he has a bit of a troubled background. But I wouldn’t say that he’s a trouble maker! He’s always lived in the shadow of his older brother, and he’s the way that he is because of his past. I would say that he could be a bit manipulative at times and smart at other times. Very independent, a free-spirit with a chip on his shoulder.

Have you enjoyed being a part of the PLL cast?
It’s really weird, because when I came from London to work on Wizards I was very nervous when I first started because I thought, ‘Oh, the show’s been going for three years now and they might not accept me.’ And I thought exactly the same thing with this show. When a show’s been on for a while the friendships have already been created. But everyone was so, so nice and I’ve made some really close friends.

How would you compare Wizards of Waverly Place to PLL?
On Wizards I felt like we were going to a professional playground. It was with my best friends, I could joke around but still get work done at the same time. Here, it’s a one hour drama, people take it more seriously, there’s a lot more pages to be completed on a daily basis, the hours are a lot longer, it’s not four cameras, and they may have two cameras on at once. There’s a lot more concentration, dedication, and focus that’s needed to be put into it. Every actor likes challenging themselves, I think that’s why we all do it.

I heard that you guys are filming a Wizards reunion.
Yeah, we started filming this past Monday.

That’s so crazy, the series finale was just this past January. Did you expect that there’d be a reunion so soon?
No, we didn’t. When we finished the show it was weird, because there was talk of doing a Wizards of Waverly Place movie but then everyone’s schedule was so busy. We all went off and did different projects, because everyone’s contracts were up, but then they came to us with this. It’s more of a thing for the fans, for us to step back into our characters shoes, we can do it in the blink of an eye. The fans didn’t want the show to be over, it won Emmys and without the fans there would have been no success. I’m also excited to work with everyone again, like I said, some of my best friends are on the show. So again, it’s just going back to the playground.

Can you tell us anything about the role that your character Mason is going to play in this reunion?
Mason gets very feisty. I think Mason’s always been very protective of Alex and in the reunion nothing changes. There’s drama as always, romance as always. The family goes off to Italy, and now that Mason is pretty much a part of the family he’s invited along for the ride. Alex has a bad twin and a good twin, there’s this spell that goes on, and my character is one of the people who get’s caught up in this whole emotional roller-coaster that goes on.

Is it true that you never really wanted to be an actor?
Yeah, I was thirteen when I started acting and my mum had to convince me to go to the audition. I did not want to go. I remember that it was my friends BBQ or something, and as a thirteen year old a BBQ was more important. I had never wanted to be an actor. I was the soccer kid, always playing soccer, so it was like, why is my mum trying to make me be this weird actor that I’m not. She told me, “Just go, I promise that if you don’t get it I’ll never ask you do anything again.” So I was like, of course, I’ll definitely jump on that chance. I didn’t want my mum telling me what to do, just like every other teenager. And then I ended up getting a lead role in the movie and Helena Bonham Carter played my mum.

You have your fan mail address listed on your Twitter account. If you could guess on average per week, how much fan mail do you think you get?
I honestly couldn’t even count.

Do you read any of it?
I read every single piece of it. Obviously I can’t do it every single day, I don’t have the time. However, every time my mum comes out here she’ll help me do it. We literally go through every single piece of fan mail, we’ll dedicate a whole weekend to going through fan mail. But it’s all really sweet.

You must get a lot of crazy stuff.
Yeah, there’s definitely a few crazy people. I get a lot of cougars.

I bet you get a couple of marriage proposals as well.
Yes, I think the oldest woman I’ve had ask to marry me was seventy-one. She was a sweet lady though. But of course it ranges from nine, or whatever, to seventy-one.

What’s the craziest thing that you’ve received?
Girls wanting me to take photos in the shower and send it to them. Obviously, I didn’t and never do.

Just had to clear that one up. I get a lot of photo requests, marriage proposals, but then some people send me money. If they send money, then of course I’m not going to take their money, I’m going to send it back to them. It’s really kind of smart. I guess they want to see if I have a soul or a conscience. But some people will talk about their work, stuff that they’ve liked me in, and it’s nice because they tell me that I inspire them. It’s funny though, because in a way they’re the ones who inspire me. I’ve always been on Twitter to let them know that I am doing things also for them, this is not just for me and I want to include them as much as possible. When I had fifty followers I wanted them to be part of the journey with me, and then when I had a thousand followers, and now I have over four-hundred thousand, so hopefully they’ll always be with me on this journey.

Maybe one day you’ll have more influence over the Twittersphere than The President or Justin Bieber.
Maybe I’ll take on Lady Gaga. She better watch out.

Your four-hundred thousand plus followers want to know if you have a girlfriend, and we kind of want to know as well.
Do I have a girlfriend? That’s the mysterious question isn’t it? It’s weird because they’ve wanted to know this for three years now, but three years later I still haven’t answered it.

I read that you’re a big soccer fan.
I’m a huge Arsenal fan.

Do you go to the LA Galaxy games?
I do, but it’s weird going to the Galaxy games because I feel like it’s a training match. The speed of the game is so slow. But my idol is David Beckham and I think he’s amazing. I’ve actually got a funny story about him. When I was nine or ten I met David Beckham after one of his soccer games in England. I’d gone up and asked to take a photo, I remember sitting on his lap for the photo and he was so nice, he spent maybe three or four minutes talking to me, but at the end of the conversation he told me, “I’ve got a weird feeling, I think one day I’m going to ask for your autograph.” Weird, right? Many years later I was at The Beverly Center in Footlocker, and I looked to my left and David Beckham was in the shop. I went up to him, introduced myself, and said, “Hi, I’m Gregg, we met years and years ago.” I told him that I respected what he did on and off the pitch, regarding charity stuff, what kind of a role model he is to kids, and how he helped me growing up. But then I noticed that his kids were looking at me really weird. He started talking to me because I’m from London and he’d heard my accent, he was wondering what I was doing over here and I told him that I was working on a show called Wizards of Waverly Place. He looked at his kids and he goes, “Yeah, they watch that all of the time!” I looked at them and they were in awe of me. It was the weirdest experience. I was like, “Why are you looking at me like I’m somebody? Your dad is David Beckham!”

How do you feel about other American sports?
They aren’t the same. Baseball for example. I was shooting a movie in New York over the summer called Affluenza. It’s loosely based on The Great Gatsby. Kevin Nash directed it, he directed Holy Rollers which went to Sundance with Jesse Eisenberg. I play the Gatsby character. It’s an indie-drama set in 2008, it’s about these young kids and what they get up to in the summer leading to the financial crisis of 2008. But while I was shooting it I went to a baseball game. It’s the worst sport I’ve ever watched.

Yeah, America’s all about football and baseball, are you sure that you want to say that?
Yes, it sucked! I went to watch The Yankees. I’ve got a Yankees cap like a tourist, but I don’t know. It was too boring for me.

You might lose a few of your New York followers after that comment…
Well, you can tell them that I still love them. I’m sure that 95% of them are girls, so I bet they don’t care too much about baseball.