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PLL’s Chandler Kinney Addresses Tabby’s Final Girl Moment, How She Helped With Casting Christian and More (Exclusive)

PLL's Chandler Kinney Was ‘Very Involved’ in Casting Tabby's BF Christian

Chandler Kinney is extremely proud of how far Tabby has come on Pretty Little Liars: Summer School.

During an exclusive interview with Us Weekly, Kinney, 23, opened up about the build-up to Tabby’s final girl moment, the work that went into casting her character’s love interest and the lessons she learned from being on the show.

Warning: This story contains spoilers about the Pretty Little Liars: Summer School season 2 finale.

“[Filming the season 2 finale] was unbelievably intense. I found out [the reveals] basically a week before we started filming. Before then, I had no idea who was who or what was what, but I definitely had my suspicions,” she recalled. “Preparation was really interesting because we shot the whole season beginning at the top of 2023 and we were supposed to wrap in July. But due to the strikes, we stopped production and didn’t return until the end of November or early December.”

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The delay happened just as Kinney was prepared to film her big episode.

“I was really running up into this moment. I had the momentum of the journey that I had been on. I felt prepped just by having lived through the season and I remember actually the day that the strike began — that was the beginning of my final girl test,” she detailed. “So the prep was really difficult because I felt like I had to work to get myself back into that space.”

Season 2 of Max’s Pretty Little Liars reboot focused on a new villain called Bloody Rose, who tested each Liar with life threatening tests. Tabby was the last one to go once she found out that Mrs. Langsberry (Carey Van Driest) and Wes (Derek Klena) were the murderers in Millwood. After being chased through the woods by Wes — and random Bloody Rose supporters from Spooky Spaghetti — Tabby came out victorious when she stabbed her former boss in the chest.

PLL Chandler Kinney Says Casting Christian Took Longer Than Other Love Interests
Karolina Wojtasik/Max

“I don’t even think she was able to think through that in that moment. It was made abundantly clear to her that only one person was walking out of that cabin alive and she knew that it had to be her. So it was a split second decision that I don’t think is one that she wanted to have to make,” Kinney explained to Us about Tabby nearly killing Wes. “But of course, she didn’t want any of this to come to this point. Even though he’s been awful to her, he’s groomed her, belittled and discriminated against her and silenced her.”

Despite Wes’ reprehensible behavior, Kinney pointed out how Tabby still didn’t have any ill will toward him.

“On some level she cared about him. She has a really big heart and while she didn’t particularly like him, when he goes missing, she is concerned. That’s also the final girl instinct in her — the suspicion that something bigger might be at play here,” she explained. “But that moment is really important because while physically she is stabbing him, it is on a greater level symbolic of her reclaiming her voice, not letting herself be silenced and living her truth that she ultimately is willing to die for.”

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Wes and Mrs. Langsberry being the ones behind the Bloody Rose murders wasn’t super surprising since fans were more worried about Tabby’s boyfriend, Christian (Noah Alexander Gerry). Kinney, however, made it a priority to be involved in Christian’s casting because she wanted the best for her character.

“The No. 1 thing that was important to me was making sure that he understood her as a person. She’s an often misunderstood person because she is very internal. She doesn’t always keeps her cards close to her chest. But season 2, she’s really challenging herself to confront this trauma in her life,” Kinney said about Tabby working through the revelation that she was sexually assaulted. “Working with Noah was really beautiful because we just had so many conversations about her, which I was really grateful that he gave me the space to do. I was very nervous bringing in a new energy into her world and was very involved in the casting process.”

According to Kinney, Tabby and Christian had “more chemistry reads” than any other love interest from season 2.

“It was just really important to get that story [right]. And Noah is so earnest in his performance and it shines through so beautifully and just genuine and pure,” she continued. “And of course Tabby goes on that emotional journey as well of, ‘Can I believe my eyes?’ That’s a part of the story of the trauma that we tell after going through something as harrowing as the events that she’s been through. It’s like, ‘How do you trust your own eyes and your own brain again?’ So we really explore that theme as well in the season.”

PLL Chandler Kinney Says Casting Christian Took Longer Than Other Love Interests
Karolina Wojtasik/Max

During the season 2 finale, which started streaming on Thursday, June 20, Christian found out about Tabby being hunted down by Bloody Rose and actually reacted very well. Kinney wasn’t surprised, however, considering how much the fan-favorite couple bonded over horror.

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“They’re both experts in that genre. So they both share this very particular and sometimes peculiar desensitization to these things because they consume so much horror in their personal lives,” she told Us. “It’s a really beautiful relationship that they kind of create over the course of the season and really challenges Tabby to be honest and vulnerable and let people in and trust people again. So he is a really beautiful tool in that journey for her.”

Looking ahead, Kinney is excited for what is still to come in terms of Tabby’s personal growth.

“She’s very perceptive and analytical but she can be reserved at times. She can sometimes put herself on the back burner to then be there for others. And one of my favorite things in watching TV and film is when you have these really strong circumstances or external forces push a character outside of their homeostasis or outside of their norm,” she explained. “I just want to see more of Tabby externalizing those feelings and making them actionable. There’s a fire that’s been relit throughout the season and she’s returning to herself in a lot of ways as she’s processed and really healing through these traumas.”

Kinney is learning a lot as well since taking on the role, adding, “Season 1, my lesson was to trust myself. There were so many challenges with that season and bringing it to life. It was really just a matter of learning to trust myself, my intuition and my heart. But ultimately I learned that while that can be scary, it also can really be liberating.”

She continued: “A big lesson for me in the second season, I was reminded that art is so personal and is fueled by your own life experiences. I was feeling like creatively run dry — but it was only because I wasn’t fully living my life outside of the work. So really taking more time for myself in my own personal life only made me a more rich, layered artist.”

Pretty Little Liars: Summer School is currently streaming on Max.

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