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Exclusive: PLL star Drew Van Acker talks new comedy, Spy Intervention

Pictured: Drew Van Acker. Courtesy of Think Jam.
Drew Van Acker in Spy Intervention. Pic credit: Think Jam

The new comedy film Spy Intervention is set for release on February 14, in which Pretty Little Liars star Drew Van Acker plays the lead. The film, directed by Drew Mylrea, is beyond funny — consistently beyond funny.

The perfectly-timed jokes keep rolling throughout the entirety of the film.

Drew Van Acker, Poppy Delevingne, and Blake Anderson were dynamite.

Van Acker recently took the time to share with us about flexing his comedy muscles while filming Spy Intervention. Here’s what he had to say.

Van Acker on his Pretty Little Liars experience

Ryan Mekkes – Monsters and Critics: So first of all, I think the proper way to start this interview is to mention that my sisters are big Pretty Little Liars fans. So I texted the family chat and yesterday and I was like, “Hey, I’m interviewing Drew Van Acker tomorrow.” And one of my sisters, her first comment was, “He’s beautiful. You’re interviewing a beautiful man.” (laughs)

Drew Van Acker: Tell her I said, “Thank you very much.” (laughs)

M&C: Yes. I hope that puts a pep in your step as you go along with your life.

Drew Van Acker: It sure did.

M&C: I’m sure life was dark and depressing before this — so anyway.

Drew Van Acker: You figured me out. You figured me out. (laughs)

Pictured: Poppy Delevingne and Drew Van Acker. Courtesy of Think Jam.
Poppy Delevingne and Drew Van Acker. Pic credit: Think Jam

M&C: So, in recognition of your work on Pretty Little Liars, I just wanted to ask one question about it before we get on to your latest film. What’s the first thing that pops into your head when you think about your time acting on that show?

Drew Van Acker: The first thing that kind of pops into my head, actually, is “family.” I mean it definitely had a family vibe to it, from the moment I came on to the set — from meeting Marlene and Oliver to meeting all the other cast. They kind of just took me under their wing right off the bat. And it wasn’t just me; they’d do that with every character that came on — every new character, season after season after season. It’s just like any other show where you get close to people, and you grow apart.

But I think the one thing I remember from being on the show is just how much everybody truly loved each other and got along. And how sad it was to say goodbye because you grow into a family. It was a tight-knit group and it was just respect all-around. And I think that that will always stay with me.

M&C: That’s awesome. Thanks for sharing that.

Drew Van Acker: Yeah.

On his comedic role in Spy Intervention

M&C: So I saw Spy Intervention and I thought the movie was just incredible in the sense that the comedy just doesn’t stop, you know?

Drew Van Acker: Yeah.

M&C: It just keeps going and going and going. So I want to start by asking you an open-ended question; What your overall thoughts on the movie?

Drew Van Acker: Oh man. I mean, overall, I don’t think I could be happier, to be honest. I think to see the journey and the evolution of the film and the story, and to be there from the beginning to now, to see it all put together and all the pieces together and everything, it’s inspiring, you know? And I’d like to mention Drew Mylrea for a second; what he did and what he created and took from the page is spectacular. I mean, I don’t know about you, but it’s not something that I’ve seen.

M&C: I agree. 

Drew Van Acker: It’s a very, very unique and stylish and personal way to tell this story.

M&C: It is. 

Drew Van Acker: So to see it all kind of come together, I’m thrilled. I’m truly beyond thrilled to see the end product of this movie.

M&C: I thought the writers, Mark Famiglietti and Lane Garrison, did an incredible job. It just never got boring. And I really think it tested the boundaries of what we have come to expect a comedy movie should look like.

Drew Van Acker: Absolutely.

M&C: I just think most movies have, you know, you can count them — maybe 10 to 15 funny parts, right?

Drew Van Acker: Yes. Yes. Yes.

M&C: This was nonstop.

Drew Van Acker: There’s a comedy formula that a lot of — not everybody — but a lot of writers and directors follow, you know what I mean? Like, “Oh, we’ve seen what works.” And you kind of hit these beats and hit that beat and play the audience a little bit. But I think what Lane and Mark did so well was kind of go against that grain, in a way. And then to have Bill kind of take it and push it even further — I think it just makes for a really unique experience.

M&C: And the one-liners? So much fun.

Drew Van Acker: Yeah, it’s definitely a lot of fun. And I think that’s one thing we want people to understand is that this is intentional. It’s not quite a spoof; it’s just a fun way to peer into that genre.

M&C: You were hilarious, man. What was it like for you stepping into this ‘start to finish’ comedic role?

Drew Van Acker: You know what, man, just talking with one of our producers when he approached me for this movie, and talking with Mark and Lane, they kind of gave me an idea of what they were looking for. It’s all on the page. So for me, it was a good starting off point. They just kind of explained the idea and what their thoughts were. As for me, I just decided to kind of let it all go.

And once I understood the theme and kind of the tone of what they were going for and what they wanted, it was very easy for me to fall into just this “ease” of my character, Corey. Because Corey doesn’t know he’s being funny. He doesn’t think he’s being funny. Everything is very grounded to him. It’s very real. And yes, the audience may see this as comedy and maybe to you it’s funny. But to him, it’s all very serious. So I think when I looked at it from that perspective, it helped everything fall into place.

M&C: Amazing. It’s like that guy back in high school who doesn’t know he’s funny. 

Drew Van Acker: Exactly. I mean I think we all have a friend or knew somebody like that.

On working with Blake Anderson, having fun on set

M&C: So what was it like working with Blake Anderson on this?

Drew Van Acker: You know Blake — if you’re familiar with his work, you know him as this certain type of actor. You think you know him as this certain type of guy, but he’s actually completely different. He’s one of those guys that you just enjoy being around because you’re just like, “How are you so naturally funny?” Like it just comes so effortlessly to him. But he also has a very serious side, and I got to know him on that level. And I think that’s what made him even funnier to me, was seeing him act and seeing his ability to flow in a scene and to roll with the punches and improv, in a way.

And, you know, we had a lot of fun just kind of playing around and keeping scenes going after the director said, “Cut.” Just seeing where we went with each other and where the characters went. So he was, honestly — he was inspiring. He’s inspiring to me. Just to see his ability to interact with the words on the page and to also be very present in the physical world of it at all — it definitely made me want to up my game when he was around. When we were in a scene together. And I think that’s the ultimate goal.

M&C: You guys did work off each other extremely well. There was a great dynamic there.

Drew Van Acker: Yeah. I appreciate it. I appreciate it.

M&C: Did any of that off-script banter you mentioned end up in the movie? Any of that stuff you guys were impromptu messing around with?

Drew Van Acker: I know there’s a couple of beats that we just were kind of riffing with before Mylrea would yell, “Action.” And he would kind of hear us and say, “You know what, let’s tie that in.” So there are definitely some moments where it just came off the top of the head and we decided to throw it in the movie.

M&C: Amazing. Amazing.

Drew Van Acker: That’s kind of who Blake is, though, you know what I mean? It just makes the script a lot more interesting when he’s throwing words around.

M&C: It sounds like the set was a lot of fun.

Drew Van Acker: It was. Yes, it was a lot of fun. I mean, first of all, everybody came in with the right mentality, wanting to make something really fun and cool and interesting and stylish. But also, everybody seemed to know the tone and understand where their character fit into the overall story.

So Poppy and Brittany and Max, Blake, everybody, Natasha, just kind of came in with the right mentality. So it was very easy for us to all kind of lock in and just have fun with each other. You know, there were a lot of times when Mylrea would just say, “You guys are there. You know what you’re doing in the scene. Just have fun with it and see where it goes.” And we’d all just kind of riff off each other.

M&C: Yeah, you can tell. I think that, as a viewer, you can tell when something just worked — when there was a cohesive vision. That positive energy came right through the screen.

Drew Van Acker: Yeah, yeah. I appreciate that because I think that’s something you can only hope for when you set out to do a movie. You can only hope that that’s the outcome. I’m the same way. I look for realism. I look at what the chemistry is like between the characters and also with the director. So to hear you say that — it’s delightful. Because, you know, I think that’s something you set out with as a goal in mind. And to see it kind of come to fruition is really satisfying.

M&C: Yeah, it’s great. It’s great. I mean this was my sense of humor. I was laughing like a hyena. Anyways, so I have a question. It’s okay if you don’t want to answer this — but I just had a specific question. I want to phrase this in a way so that I can put it in the article.

But there’s a scene when Dr. Studebaker comes out when you guys are all standing around in a circle. Was there any difficulty getting through that scene and keeping straight faces with the — how do I put it — the fashion statement going on? 

Drew Van Acker: One hundred percent. One hundred percent. What you imagine the actors are going through behind the camera  — at least from my perspective; I won’t speak for anybody else — but that’s exactly what was happening. Just the whole scene, in general, is so amazingly absurd. We’re so locked in and grounded when she comes in. There was one point I think where I was pinching my wrist to try to get my focus and attention somewhere else so I wouldn’t burst out in laughter. So yeah, you’re absolutely right on with that assumption.

M&C: When I saw it I just burst out laughing. I was like, “How are they keeping it together?” (laughs)

Drew Van Acker: I’m laughing even right now just thinking back on that scene. (laughs)

M&C: It was brilliant. And the camera angle? It was just perfect.

Drew Van Acker: Well that’s good, man. I love that. I love hearing that.

Spy Intervention is out on VOD and will play in select theaters starting February 14. 


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