Laura leighton doug savant

Pretty Little Liars

Laura Leighton as a mother?!? This is a role many long-time Melrose Place viewers can’t imagine, as the actress rose to fame on that primetime soap opera by portraying evil, promiscuous vixen Sydney Andrews.

But Leighton shows off a different side on Pretty Little Liars, which debuts on ABC Family next week. TV Fanatic took part in a conference call with the star a couple days ago and have excerpted her thoughts on character Ashley Marin below…

On the appeal of her character: It’s a juicy part. It’s challenging, always, to have a character that’s acting sort of outside your own moral compass; making choices that you wouldn’t necessarily make. Ashley is certainly finding herself in the position of making some parenting choices and choices in general for herself and her family that are a little bit shocking.

On playing a single mother: Hanna is her daughter. And Ashley is working to keep it all together, as any single mom has to. She’s a business woman; she’s got a bit of an edge. She’s very matter-of-fact, and she places very high value on appearances. She wants to maintain her image and pulling herself together every day is high on her list.

So when her daughter makes the mistakes and she needs to cover those up, she acts in desperation and thinks of the best thing she can think of at the time. Like how she should try to cover up and what’s the best way to do it. She’s really just trying to maintain appearances and her life and her lifestyle. She’s struggling to balance it all.

On relating to the character: I certainly relate to her being a mother and trying to juggle her career and make parenting choices and connect with her daughter. I think those are just really sort of classic themes that are in the show. And I think that throughout the various story lines there is with all the different children in the show with their parents, there is a unique relationship with each story.

And I think that audiences will be drawn to that because there’s so much that you can relate to within families. Conversations that occur, or just the everyday life of getting ready in the morning and the craziness of everybody needs to go here or there. They’re just sort of classic themes.

TV Fanatic will recap, review and cover Pretty Little Liars in depth. Will you tune in for its premiere on June 8?

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Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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Three words that describe you as a mom?

“Loving,” “busy,” and…I’m torn between “careful” and “silly.”

What’s a parenting rule you never break?

I’d like to say it’s brushing your teeth before bed, but there have been times the kids have fallen asleep in the car and been carried straight to bed. And I’m becoming stricter about healthy food — whole grains, no sugar.

And a rule you always break?

What’s the hardest part about being a working mom?

Missing stuff. You can’t control your work schedule, so inevitably I’ll be working when somebody has a report due or a concert. I hate it. I’m not comfortable missing bedtime, either.

And what’s the best part about being a working mom?

The kids can see that there are more parts to me than just being their mom; I wear a couple of different hats and have other roles to play.

Any family-favorite books right now?

James and the Giant Peach and Fantastic Mr. Fox. We’ve got them on tape in the car, and the kids want to hear them over and over.

What are you reading?

The World in Six Songs by Daniel Levitin. It’s about why kids love music. Even my 5-year-old knows what she likes. We all get a kick out of her singing “Firework” by Katy Perry.

What’s on your nightstand?

Aquaphor lip balm, a candle, a homemade bookmark for my book, earrings, and a Zhu Zhu Pet.

Your favorite guilty pleasure?

When it’s rainy out and we get to stay in our pajamas all day.

What’s a date night for you and your husband?

Just the two of us having dinner, being able to catch up without being interrupted a million times. It doesn’t happen often, but we appreciate it when it does.

Do you have time for girls’ nights out?

Yes, my friends and I find excuses to get together. For a while we had a knitting night once a month at my house. I love that you can be social while creating something.