Photography by Benedict Evans. Styling by Michael Cook. Groomer: Angela Dicarlo. Sweater by H&M. Jacket by Tommy Hilfiger.
This year’s winner in the battle of the summer ingenues? Huw Collins, the 28-year-old Welshman who had exactly one short film to his credit when he landed the role of a Jekyll-and-Hyde psychiatrist on the chronically buzzy ABC Family/Freeform hit Pretty Little Liars. “It’s come a little faster than I planned,” Collins admits. “I still have a lot to learn.”
You’d never guess it. Collins is irresistible on the show in more ways than one, turning from a compassionate American shrink to a British baddie on a dime, and he’s fast becoming a brilliant addition to the soap-opera canon. The former rugby player jetted to America two years ago after playing Dorian Gray in a regional U.K. play. Since debuting on the second half of PLL’s sixth season six months ago, he’s gained 30,000 new Instagram followers. “Going from a complete unknown to being somewhat known — this is a really good show to do it on,” he says, “because you’ve got this wild, passionate fan base.”
Still, he confesses it’s been a bit traumatizing being a pretty face on a series that has the prettiest faces per capita on television. “I remarked to [my costar] Shay Mitchell the other day, ‘I hope you don’t mind me looking like a potato when we film together,’ ” he says. “It can be a bit chastening to stand around with such an attractive cast.”
Collins recently experienced his first paparazzi shoot, in which the Daily Mail ran more photos of him doing a shirtless beach workout than was necessary (well, maybe not). “My finest hour!” he says. “I got a lot of texts from British friends I hadn’t heard from in a long time, a lot of skeletons coming out of the closet — some who didn’t know I was an actor. My aunts texted me, and I said I’d keep my shirt on next time. They said, ‘No, don’t do that!’ ”
No doubt his disciples are hoping for more pec and ab time when Pretty Little Liars returns for its seventh season June 21. “Guys suggest I take my top off a bit more than girls, but not by much. Since I moved to L.A., I have more gay friends than straight friends,” says Collins, who is married to Democratic senator Jeanne Shaheen’s daughter. “You can come to L.A. to be whatever you want to be, which is the great, great thing about this town.”
Hew Collins returns in Pretty Little Liars on June 21.
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