‘Fifty Shades Freed' Star Brant Daugherty on Finally Playing a Good Guy & How PLL Changed His Life

By Lorna Soonhee Umphrey | February 12, 2018 | People

We rang Brant Daugherty as he reveals his Fifty Shades casting history, how challenging his latest role was, and why he loved working on PLL.


Working on a hit franchise series is a score for anyone but for Brant Daugherty—who’s not only in the new Fifty Shades Freed film, playing Anastasia Steel’s bodyguard, Sawyer, and who also had a lengthy stint on the ever-popular show, Pretty Little Liars, as the villainous Noel Kahn—it's afforded us a whole new look at the actor. Now, in his new role, he switches gears to play a good guy for once taking on the stalwart role of protecting Christian Grey’s beloved prize.

Let’s talk about Fifty Shades Freed. Had you read any of the books prior to being cast in the film?
BD: Actually, yes but only partially. I had gone in a few years ago to read for Christian Grey and so to get into the spirit of things, I read probably the first half of the first book. I didn’t ever finish the first one so when they came back for the sequels, I read all of them.

What was it like stepping in and working with a cast that was already comfortable with each other?
BD: It’s always kind of an interesting process. As an actor, you get thrown into these pre-existing worlds. People are usually very generous and I have to say Dakota [Johnson], Jamie [Dornan], Eric [Johnson], the author, E.L. James, and the director—they were all just very welcoming.

What is Sawyer like?
Sawyer is an interesting man to me. He’s a very strong, silent type which is a challenge as an actor. There’s a bit of comfort in dialogue, I find. You get inside the character’s head because he’s saying what he’s thinking, generally. And to play a character who’s in so much of the movie and says so little, it’s a challenge.

You’re known for playing the role of Noel Kahn on Pretty Little Liars. What did you enjoy about working on the show?
BD: I mean, what I enjoyed mostly about Pretty Little Liars was just the longevity and the journey of it. You know we got seven amazing seasons which is pretty unheard of for most TV shows.

Did you even realize the impact the show would have on your life?
BD: Not even slightly. It was the gift that kept on giving. It’s so funny, you go in, you audition for things as an actor, you’re beating the pavement, putting in the time and the work. I went in one time for Noel, auditioned and they hired me and that was that. I got seven great years of work, and all these friendships and relationships out of it. It really changed my life.

What’s been the most surprising or craziest thing that you’ve seen from a PLL fan?
BD: [Laughs] The tattoos are interesting. Sometimes you don’t realize what it means to the people who are home on a Tuesday night who are watching it alone in their bedroom. You don’t really understand what the show is doing to people and how it affects them. Then you see something like, a Pretty Little Liars tattoo, and I’m like, wow, what we did meant enough to you to put on your body forever and that’s really remarkable to me.

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Photography via Facebook.com/BrantDaugherty