Huw Collins on 'Pretty Little Liars' & What He's Doing to End Smoking

You probably know Huw Collins as Archer Dunhill on Pretty Little Liars. You know, Alison's crazy husband who tortured her and ended up through the windshield of a car Hanna was driving? Archer caused a whole lot of trouble in his time on the Freeform series, so when I got the chance to ask Huw about playing the villain, joining the show during its final episodes and truth, an organization that's working to end smoking for good, I didn't hesitate.

What was it like to work on the final season of Pretty Little Liars? Did you like playing a villain?

Huw Collins: It was pretty wild to enter such an established and well-known world. It felt like everyone (whether they were an avid watcher or not) knew of the show. My wife Molly, incidentally, was a big fan of it right up until the point when I joined the show…but then she stopped watching! Rude! I was really lucky that I was already friends with Ian Harding before joining; that helped me get the inside track on the workings of everything, and they were all very, very welcoming! As for playing the villain, as a man with a British accent who can raise a single eyebrow at will, it was an opportunity I approached with extreme relish! I had a lot of fun with it!

What did you think of the series finale and the A.D. reveal?

HC: I thought it was excellent that the creative team and the rest of the cast took big risks and avoided playing it safe. It can be a distinct trap to feel the pressure of seven seasons and not want to upset anyone or be too divisive in the final throes, but I felt like they took great gambles, tied up some storylines and overall made it a really fun couple of hours to end the show. Special mention to Troian Bellisario who knocked it out of the park. She is so talented, and it was hard not to feel intense pride at her performance on both a professional and personal level. [The Only Way Is Essex] Troian was epic.

Did you ever think you were A.D.? And when did you actually find out who A.D. was?

HC: I didn't think I was ever A.D. (although technically Archer Dunhill will forever be A.D. in a literal sense…), and I am also glad I wasn't. I don't think it would have been the right move for Archer to be the big bad, for a multitude of reasons. I think his impact and story was a very important one to the show, and I am proud of that, but he served the bigger story overall rather than being the bigger story. 

I found out at the final table read. The script was top secret, of course, so once Troian started talking in an Essex accent, I did somewhat splutter on my coffee.

The cast of PLL seems like one big family off-screen. What was that like to experience?

HC: I think it could have been very daunting to enter into had they not been as welcoming. No one likes to feel like the new kid in school, but it's a testament to the cast and the crew that I didn't feel like that for one second. The little section of the lot we shot on at Warner Brothers came to feel like home, and it was certainly hard to leave behind. You come to realize it's not just the job you'll miss, but [not] seeing these great people every day is a tough adjustment.

However, in an effort to extend our time together, I just announced I'm organizing a convention in Manchester, England in Feb. 2018—so I think myself and a few buddies from the show will be able to enjoy a little PLL-on-tour time in Europe, which will be a lot of fun and a great opportunity to meet the stupendous fans of the show.

What can you tell us about truth?

HC: truth is a superb campaign that is making such a difference to young people's lives. Their impact on lowering tobacco use since inception has been profound. The way truth approaches the topic is so admirable. It is not about "good vs. bad," being judgy or preachy, or leading with scare tactics; it is about sharing the facts and empowering everyone to use their creativity to make positive change. That's one of the big reasons I am so willing to do whatever I can to help them because I think their mission to encourage this generation to be the ONE to end smoking in teens is incredible, but at the same time, in the current climate of divisive and caustic methods to gain an advantage in your pursuit of a goal, they do not. They use the facts and that is needed now more than ever. I hope it encourages others, especially young people, to join the movement.

How did you get involved with truth?

HC: I got involved with truth because a friend of mine encouraged me to get involved. I was doing a pre-Christmas Twitter giveaway, and I wanted there to be a deeper meaning than simple material indulgence—truth was the perfect partner. I have never smoked, and as an ex-professional athlete, I have always been fortunate enough to lead a healthy lifestyle without thinking too much about it. I want others to have the same opportunity. In this time of social media, everyone has the opportunity to positively influence others, and I feel an onus to use mine for good. truth is the perfect partner for that.

Erin is the Entertainment Editor of Her Campus. She graduated from Belmont University in 2015, where she studied English and Elementary Education. Before joining the team full-time, she was a national contributing blogger, viral content writer and editorial intern at HC. In addition to her work for Her Campus, Erin was formerly an editorial assistant at Nfocus Magazine and has been published by HelloGiggles and Man Repeller. In her free time, you can find Erin falling for yet another TV boyfriend (her long list of ex-lovers includes Nathan Scott, Chuck Bass and Pacey Witter, to name a few), reading chick lit and/or celeb memoirs and hanging with her puppy/soulmate, Cooper.

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