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Ashley Benson may be known for playing the sweet, sly and style-obsessed Hanna Marin in the popular TV series Pretty Little Liars (Season 6 debuts June 2, 2015 on MuchMusic) but her next trio of films will change the way you think about her. Playing a ferocious warrior in this summer’s biggest video game blockbuster, Pixels, a lovelorn New Yorker in next year’s big rom-com, Chronically Metropolitan, and a Presley-obsessed fan in the upcoming Elvis & Nixon (opposite Michael Shannon—who plays Elvis and Kevin Spacey as the 37th U.S. President), Benson is all about conquering what she calls “the type cast curse.” Its something she’s been working on since she decided to star turn in 2012’s indie flick, Spring Breakers, where she played a bikini-clad girl-gone-wild whose badassery out-maneuvers a dangerous gangster played by the James Franco. On the set of her Hollywood Hills-based cover shoot with FASHION, Benson spoke to the magazine’s features editor, Elio Iannacci, on her past, present and future in film. Here is a sneak peek of the story, which lands on newsstands on May 18.
On the evolution of her character, Hanna Marin, on Pretty Little Liars:
I think her personality has changed the most out of all the other girls on the show. Hanna’s been through an insecure phase, a popular-cool girl moment and a phase where she didn’t know who she was anymore. Every season she figures out a little bit more of herself.
On the wildest scenes in Spring Breakers:
It was a pretty crazy movie but out of all the projects I’ve done, I learned the most on that one. We improvised most of those scenes—especially the ones with James Franco. I’d never done improv before. Even when they weren’t supposed to be filming or we knew that anyone was filming, the cameras were on. Diving into a character like that—a crazy, drug addicted party girl who has no fear whatsoever? That was liberating.
On her love of Jennifer Lawrence:
I think she’s the coolest person in the business. She’s breaking the mould of what Hollywood stars are supposed to act like. I look up to her so much. Actors should stop acting when the cameras are off.
On the challenges of dating in Hollywood:
Relationships are so hard in this business. I don’t think I would be able to date a high profile actor the way Angelina Jolie has. Her and Brad have done a good job at keeping private but I’m sure that takes work. It’s too much attention when two powerful people are together. Everything is heightened and exaggerated. The strangest thing that I’ve read is that I’ve dated all the male co-stars I’ve had on Pretty Little Liars. None of it is true. It’s disgusting.
To read our cover story, pick up the FASHION Magazine Summer 2015 issue starring Ashley Benson, available on newsstands May 18, 2015.