INTERVIEW: Keegan Allen on His New CW Series ‘Walker,’ Filming ‘No Escape,’ Photography, Music, and ‘Pretty Little Liars’
Keegan Allen shared all the details on his newest series Walker, airing on Thursdays at 8 – 9 PM ET on The CW.
Walker premiered on January 21 and is a reimagining of Walker: Texas Ranger. Allen plays Liam Walker, an ADA who stepped in during his brother’s (Cordell Walker) absence. Cordell (played by Jared Padalecki) returns home to Austin after being undercover for two years, only to discover there’s more challenging work to be done at home, including handling conflicts with his family.
Keegan is best known for his role as Toby Cavanaugh in Freeform’s Pretty Little Liars, which went on for seven seasons. He can recently be seen starring in the thrilling film No Escape, which premiered in 2020.
Glitter spoke exclusively with Keegan Allen and asked him about what fans can expect from his new series, taking on the role of Liam, what motto he would pick for the series, future music, photography, and which of his characters he’d want to revisit.
GLITTER: What drew you to pursue acting as a career, and was it an easy decision for you?
KEEGAN: Wow, that’s major. I’ve always been super interested in human beings, behavioral science, and why people do what they do. There are two versions– or three versions of ourselves at all times, and I always have found it that the versions that we don’t show people, the thoughts; we judge people by actions usually, right? We don’t judge them by intent or objective. Being an actor, you get to understand intent, objective, and then action, and that’s so fascinating, especially when you’re playing characters that are so interesting. At a very young age, I got to watch my father kind of pull apart pieces of his reality and then restructure them to build these characters in my life, and that was just so fascinating. I decided to torture myself with this career. Just kidding, I love my career, and I love my job. I’m so fascinated by becoming these characters, whatever job or project I’ve worked on.
GLITTER: Was there an on-screen performance that really inspired you acting-wise?
KEEGAN: Yeah, Citizen Kane, that blew my mind. I remember being really, really young, seeing that movie, and I couldn’t believe it. This gentleman just decided that he could just, in this grand display of all these emotions and all these things, and at that time too, the camera that they were using was not as advanced as the cameras that we have today. The amount of technical ingenuity at the time was so fascinating so that I never really made a huge difference.
Also, It’s a Wonderful Life. It’s one of those movies; I know every time that you go through the holiday, you watch it, and it hits you like a train. But that movie also elicits so many emotions within whoever watches it; you know what I mean? Like, it just is so interesting.
GLITTER: Walker premiered on January 21; what can fans expect from this new series?
KEEGAN: Fans are gonna expect a lot of wonderful, exciting, interesting drama that revolves around family life, revolves around action, and tells a very unique story. It threads the needle throughout all of those topics carefully and with such an interesting storyline. I was captivated from the pilot episode, but as you start to get deeper into the series, you become connected to these characters in different ways, and I’m very excited for fans to take this journey with us.
GLITTER: How would you describe your character, and what was your biggest challenge taking on this new role?
KEEGAN: I would describe Liam as a family man, a family man that cares very deeply for his family, very deeply for his career, and very deeply for his morals and values. I found the challenge in itself was actually navigating the new way of working in the world today. That was the most challenging thing. I found that all of the acting, it was just… I think that the biggest challenge was navigating the new normal, and this show has been an amazing, amazing journey from start to now in helping to navigate that in a fun and safe environment.
GLITTER: How would you describe the complicated relationship between the Walker brothers?
KEEGAN: You know, that’s something that I kind of can’t speak on it for a couple of reasons. One, because as a viewer, I found that I took away so many things from– besides playing this character and being this character, being him– I took away so many things from that relationship that really nurtured me, really. I’m an only child, but I long for having a sibling, I long for having an older brother, and I think people will have their own experience with the Walker brothers. I have such a unique friendship that feels instantaneously like family with Jared. Jared is a tremendous soul and a wonderful actor with such unerring theatrical talent. I mean, just working with him is so wonderful, but it definitely feels like family. So I hope that that translates in a way for everybody, but everybody is going to have their own experience with the Walker brothers.
GLITTER: What attracted you to the project, and what was your first reaction to reading the script?
KEEGAN: What really attracted me to it was Anna Fricke and how she navigated that pilot episode and made it and brought in– it was like one big stew of all these interesting things, and obviously, there’s a lineage to this name. There’s a lot of people that know about that, but she was able to take something and make it so much more. There’s so many roots in this tree that is Walker; that’s what really drew me to it. It’s a grounded, real show about real people navigating real things. Sometimes, people that are just people are superheroes. It’s just because they’re dealing with so many things; they’re dealing with life, family, and that’s what’s so extraordinary about it; it just made sense, and it felt so grounded.
GLITTER: Walker is a reimagining of the long-running series Walker: Texas Ranger; did you watch any of the original series, and what differences can fans expect?
KEEGAN: Yeah, of course, I watched it. I loved it. Actually, I have so many stories that I don’t know how much I’m allowed to share, but I think I’m gonna wait for a time that it’s a little more appropriate, but I obviously have a deep reverence for that original show. And I think this was an opportunity to reimagine it, and I believe it was done with so much careful, tasteful— and it still feels classic. There’s so many nuances that make it feel like it’s a classic show, but there’s a definite difference, and obviously, a lot of that comes with the times. Also, there’s something really wonderful about the way that it has been reimagined, and I’ll let people see that for themselves and digest that and unpack that over time. It’ll be fun, though, when people watch the first season, and then they go back and watch, they’ll be like, “Oh, wow! Okay, I see where this comes from.”
GLITTER: If you had to create a tagline or motto for the series, what would you pick?
KEEGAN: I feel like, honestly, the tagline would be: ‘it’s family, and then it’s everything else,’ you know what I mean? Like, I don’t know. Maybe, I’m overthinking it. I’m gonna be up all night thinking about what the tagline should be.
That’s the thing, without family, it’s really hard to ground yourself. And that’s a hard statement for a lot of people, especially when people have lost their families or they’re dealing with things. It’s like your identity is sometimes wrapped up in your family, and I found that throughout the show, it’s like a lot of the identity of all of these characters are wrapped up in their family. It’s pretty, pretty beautiful.
GLITTER: No Escape premiered back in September; what was your favorite part of filming that, and what did you enjoy most about that genre?
KEEGAN: So I really loved working on that movie, mainly because of the cast that I worked with. Denzel Whitaker, I remember he instantaneously felt like my best friend. That casting process was wonderful, working with Ronen Rubinstein, George Janko, who’s a YouTube vlogger himself, and kind of reaching around and getting into that whole vlogging world and understanding what that world really is. Then somehow trying to translate that with Will Wernick, who’s an amazing director. That whole experience was really just wonderful. That genre was so interesting because it was such a unique experience and a kind of a clinic in ‘show, don’t tell’ because what’s fun about it is the ending is so… there’s something about leaving you with that. It really affects you over time, and it affected me for a very long time. So that was my favorite part; it was such a cathartic movie to shoot too, so it was like being in therapy every day as I had to examine my persona— my public persona; like how I present myself to fans, how I present myself on Instagram, and then who am I when I turn the phone off, you know what I mean? Made me definitely put my phone away for most of quarantine. I was not connected. I was out in the forest, away from everything.
GLITTER: Can fans hope for another photography book from you in the future?
KEEGAN: Yeah, I have a plan, or I had a plan to release a new photography book, but obviously, with everything happening… here’s what I’m really happy about, though, and I can speak on this, I’m so happy that my books— that I have released— now feel like they existed in another time. If you open up Hollywood and you look through Hollywood, and you see through all those photos, that is actually a bygone era at this point; it does not exist, and I don’t know if it ever will. There’s no way of telling, and even in life.love.beauty, there’s a lot of stuff in there where I sometimes will pick up the book and look, and I just don’t even feel like I was the person that shot that. I feel like it was another version of me that doesn’t exist anymore, and in some ways, we’re all on a physical plane that always is going through some cosmic chaos so that we change; like we don’t get along with ourselves in five years. But it’s a wonderful period piece in a way, and I was gearing up to shoot a pseudo period piece of America, actually, but I got sidelined for a myriad of crazy reasons over the last year, and it just continues. There’s just no– it’s pretty relentless that the timeline of the world is pretty relentless. So hopefully soon that’s was the idea.
GLITTER: Will you be sharing any photographs that you took on the Walker set like you did with PLL, and what is your favorite part of photographing while on an acting project?
KEEGAN: Yeah. So, you know, what’s funny is that on this production, because of the masks and everything, I just haven’t really been… the muse hasn’t been with me. I’ve been more– just because it is a new show, everything that’s going on– I’m less inclined right now because there is such a bubble around everybody, and we all are in zones, and it’s very safe. I want to stress that; I love working on the show because they very much care about all of us, and when I say us, I mean cast, crew, every single person involved in the production. There is something pretty intimate about photography where you have to kind of get close to people, you have to be, and so I’ve been trying to figure out how to navigate that in a way that feels safe for whomst ever I am photographing or for myself, and also what that is going to look like. I have been kind of bringing my camera out a little bit more, I felt a little bit more inclined to do it, and I think that eventually, I will be able to share some of those. Obviously, right now, it’s a bit hush-hush. So I haven’t really been able to share anything. I did have a cool photo that, hopefully, I’ll be able to share when the show comes out. But yeah, for the most part, it’s just kind of like navigating this new world at this point, you know?
GLITTER: You, unfortunately, were not able to join the Pretty Little Liars reunion when they had one; can we expect another reunion anytime soon?
KEEGAN: They had a reunion? When was that? I probably had my beard down to here and my hair– by the way, did you know my hair was, like, down to here, and my beard was down to there? I was chopping wood. It was a bad move, probably good that I didn’t join the reunion. People would’ve been like, “who is that? Who’s that old man in that corner over there,” and I’d be like, “Hey, everybody, what’s up?” Like, I would look nuts.
There was definitely a lot of me thinking to myself, like, “I wonder, what everyone is doing right now?” So they were doing a reunion. That’s good to know. I’m there in spirit. No matter what, I’m always there with them, and I love all those kids.
GLITTER: What did your time on Pretty Little Liars teach you, and what did the character of Toby mean to you?
KEEGAN: Yeah, so that show taught me a lot. Pretty much, it gave me an alternate path in my life at that time to do photography, to feel appreciated. We all go through life, and we want to be appreciated. It was a wonderful experience to be appreciated and to have those avenues of creativity, not only with my music but with photography. I was very interested in the viewership in the fandom because they very much helped and were instrumental in my career at the time when Twitter first started, keeping my character alive, keeping the storylines writing, Marlene King continued to write this character in a way that was so fragrant with– just all of the moral compasses.
I learned so much about that character because of those moral compasses that were written; short, concise, easy to understand, easy to digest, wonderful, beautiful storylines of the optimal relationship, you know? And so that was very helpful in my life. I took a lot from those moments because I was still growing up; I was still a young man. So that was pivotal in my life and just making good decisions, moving forward, and taking a leaf out of his book.
GLITTER: You released “Time and Lemonade” last year; will you be doing more music going forward?
KEEGAN: Yeah, that’s the plan. I mean, I was gonna keep doing some sort of music with my friend Lenny. Then he worked on Kanye’s album, and now I guess he’s working on someone else, but he’s a big deal. He’s an awesome dude, my friend– we used to go to the gym together all the time in the before times. I went to him, and I was like, “Hey, man. Hey, do you want to hear this song ‘Million Miles Away,'” and he was like, “Yeah, sure.” And now that song has been listened to millions and millions and millions of times. That’s so cool. It’s just kind of pushed me in that direction, and I was so inspired; “Time and Lemonade” was totally inspired by Phoebe Bridgers. I listened to way too much Phoebe Bridgers this quarantine, pretty much every day on my motorcycle, I’d drive through the forest and listen to “Punisher,” like an emo kid. And I’d sit and listen, then I’d get off the bike, and then I’d cry and then get back on the bike. It was my life, you know? So hopefully, more inspiration that brings me to a place where I feel comfortable releasing more music. I have it; it’s just like, you know.
GLITTER: What is the top song on your most recent playlist?
KEEGAN: Probably “Garden Song” by Phoebe Bridgers, unfortunately, which is honestly, every single indie playlist on Spotify always starts with “Garden Song” by Phoebe Bridgers. Always, it’s like stupid. It’s so dumb that it’s always “Garden Song.” I’m like, what about anything else? What about Fleet Foxes? What about Milk Carton Kids? Nope. Like it’s always Phoebe Bridgers or like it’ll have like “Savior Complex” underneath. I don’t know. I usually– here’s the truth, before Phoebe Bridgers, it was always either Elliott Smith or Sonny Rollins, The Bridge. I’m a huge audiophile, love music, I love jazz. Then I got into Elliott Smith, and I love feeling that and getting all, you know, deep into that. Then I found out about Conor Oberst and Phoebe Bridgers’ Better Oblivion Community Center collaboration and got sucked into that. Then, that’s what happened. That’s my most recent song.
GLITTER: What would a dream role or project consist of for you?
KEEGAN: Well, a dream role or project, I would say that truthfully, this right now playing Liam Walker on Walker with Jared, Molly, Mitch, Violet, Kale, Jen, Kobe, Jeff, and Lindsey Morgan. Ugh, I’m just saying that cause Lindsey and I always fight. Not in a bad way, she just is better than me at everything, and it’s annoying. But, yeah, this is what I would consider a dream role and project; playing this character. It has been so much fun and such a refreshing experience with such wonderful people.
GLITTER: If you could work with any actor or actress on a new project, who would you want it to be and why?
KEEGAN: Honestly, I’m trying to think, as far as like someone I’d really love to work with, honestly, truthfully, Larry David would be an amazing person to work with. I feel like that set on Curb Your Enthusiasm is the most fun, exciting set to work on, and that obviously he’s a genius. There’s no— you’re not gonna be like, “I wonder if he’s smart and a genius,” like no, he’s a genius. And it would probably be insanely fun and funny. You’d probably just laugh the whole time. Yeah, Larry David.
GLITTER: If you could revisit any character or show, which would you pick, and what would you want to explore for it?
KEEGAN: Well, you know, what’s funny is like, obviously, I’m always wondering what Toby is doing in the stratosphere because that character’s so close to me. I’m always interested in revisiting that as a new thing, because it’s something— that’s like a forever character, in a weird way, that’s a forever kind of like experience because so many people keep it alive. They watch it. They dissect it, their views on it, and we’ve all grown up during that show. That’s an interesting show that I would definitely be interested in revisiting and just seeing pop in my head, and like, “what’s going on over here.” But, yeah, that would definitely be an interesting one. I’m all about it staying alive. I mean, it’s so— it’s such an interesting time, interesting show, and interesting premise. And I think Walker has that kind of potential to really pull people into cause there’s so many things going on in that show.
GLITTER: What was a day in social isolation like for you, and how did you spend all of the free time?
KEEGAN: Here’s the thing, I’m pretty— I know how to make it hell for anybody else because, like most of my friends, I got to try to motivate them because I still go to the gym. I wake up at 4 AM, go to the gym. I know it’s hell for anybody else, but it’s my safe place. Okay, I wake up at 4 AM; I work out. I love coffee, so I have a whole coffee regimen that I’m into. I love weighing my beans like a total crazy person and like doing the fresh roast, and I’m so ridiculous. I have like a whole routine, and then I would get on my dual sport motorcycle and ride into the forest and chop wood and then bring it back and make a fire. Cause I’m the cabin guy, like I live in the forest, so meditating. I’m really into— talk about social isolation; I would like stay off my phone because everything’s stressful and too intense on my phone, and there’s too much radiation in my phone. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen Better Call Saul. I’m like the brother; I’m like Chuck, the brother with the big like foil over him, and he’s like, “I can’t be near the cell towers.”
Yeah, it was really, honestly, an amazing time for me to connect with my mother, and with me to connect with my girlfriend, and my cat, and like have this really special— I know it’s true; I put him in his little sweater, and he can not get away from hugs. But I loved gardening, and I got into, like, understanding gardening, composting, and all that stuff. That was wonderful. I got really close with my neighbors because we were social-distanced; I was able to talk to them, you know, cause I was never really home. Found a unique love for the forest, found a lot about myself in silence. My identity in silence is wonderful. Actually, it’s really important, I think. While the world burned around me, I was very aware of that. I talked to a lot of friends that told me to spend time with that feeling like don’t push it away, like be in it. So yeah, daily was wake up at 4 AM and then garden, workout, make some soup, and go to bed. And that’s the other thing too, is I’m very aware that that’s a privilege to be able to just get out and go away, but that was pretty much my entire life. I was born in that, in an isolated force, and I used to really criticize my parents and be like, “why are we so far away from everybody?” Now it’s like, I can’t tell you how happy my mother was that she walked in, and I’m like, “don’t look at me like that.” She’s like, “what did I tell you?” I’m like, “Okay, okay, you were right.”
GLITTER: Favorite show or movie you watched while in quarantine?
KEEGAN: I honestly… I watch so much stuff. I loved watching The Mandalorian. Schitt’s Creek is great. That’s a good one. Curb Your Enthusiasm, I’ve gotten deeper into Curb Your Enthusiasm. Yeah, you know what’s something I’m really proud of admitting is I watched all of the Studio Ghibli films. Some Hayao Miyazaki’s masterpieces. Everything from Porco Rosso, which is so good, man. Oh my God, they’re so good. Like, obviously everybody knows Spirited Away, and that’s obviously a masterpiece, but there’s Howl’s Moving Castle, incredible. Porco Rosso was so good, you know, it’s amazing. It’s Casablanca.
GLITTER: Are there any aspects of the entertainment industry that you want to explore in the future?
KEEGAN: Well, I, along with everybody else on planet Earth, has written a screenplay, and I’ve been so nervous and neurotic about trying to like— I know it’s good, just like everybody that writes a screenplay, I know I have it good because it’s written about something in my life, that I had a pretty weird and interesting life in my scope. So I feel like it would be a cool thing. I would love to get more into writing, producing, and directing. I feel like eventually, I’ll get into that realm because I do very much enjoy all angles of and aspects of the entertainment world and how it’s forever evolving. It always is evolving. It’s always changing. It’s always introducing new ways of telling stories. And I think that’s so fascinating.
GLITTER: Do you have any favorite or special fan interactions that stuck with you over the years?
KEEGAN: I’ve had a lot of really wonderful ones. One of my favorites was when I was in Paramus, New Jersey, I met this young girl named Maddie, and she told me she was my number one fan. And I’ve actually stayed in contact with her because she honestly brightens my world up to talk to her, and she’ll just like DM me sometimes, like updates on her life and stuff, and that’s just so amazing. Also, there’s a girl named Britney that I met. one of my first mall fan signings. There’s a little bit of like a— it’s like you don’t want to ever really breakthrough that and be— but there was something about the fandom of this series and also just like the support that I really adore these people and they became kind of like friends. They would just keep showing up at events, and I, over the years, they’d keep me updated, and they show up at my book signings. When I travel the world, I’d see them again. Just wonderful, wonderful kids, wonderful people, and really inspiring stories. All of them. Honestly, Maddie is such an inspiration to me. So, yeah, a lot of great, lot of really wonderful people I’ve met.
GLITTER: Glitter has a celebrity #SelfLoveCampaign. What does self-love mean to you?
KEEGAN: Yeah, self-love. I think self-love means that you check in with yourself and make sure you’re getting what you need for yourself from yourself. It shouldn’t be from other people. You don’t need validation from Instagram, any arbiter between you and your fans, your followers, your family members on Facebook, or whatever; it should just be– people need to start checking in with themselves. I think that’s a big piece of self-love is identifying what it is that you need to feel whole and fulfilled. I feel like nobody’s been doing that recently because we all– I mean, I’m included– we all get caught up in everything going on. But it’s really important to sometimes, for mental health to step away sometimes and be there for yourself, because you’ll burn yourself out like a kid in a sports game, you know?
GLITTER: Do you have any new projects coming up that you can share?
KEEGAN: Yes, so pretty much just Walker, right now, because everything’s been really– I mean instantaneously, the whole world changed right when we started this project. So everything’s been put on hold, but hopefully, everything kind of gets back to moving and starts all that up. But right now, I’m honestly– this is the first time in my life I’ve been able to really focus on something wholeheartedly like what Walker has been, and it’s been really, really exciting. I’m really excited for people to see that.
GLITTER: What are the best social media platforms for fans to keep up with all things Keegan?
KEEGAN: Honestly, right now, my Twitter— I pretty much deleted everything on Twitter. Cause I can’t go on Twitter anymore, I don’t think any human being is built for Twitter, but you know, I could be wrong. I mean, I still have a Twitter account that gets updated with like cool stuff sometimes, but it’s not me doing it. My Instagram is probably the best way to keep up, which is @keeoone. I’m not on Facebook. I’ll make this statement, so Glitter has it first, I don’t have a TikTok, and somebody’s out there pretending to be me, and that is just so sad. To me, there’s nothing redeeming to be fake me, worse than being fake me on TikTok. That’s the lowest you can go. I get these DMs from Beyoncé sometimes, not the real Beyoncé; you know what I mean? It’s like, “Hey, what’s up? I’m Beyoncé Knowles, was wondering if you could send me some money so I can fly over?” And I’m like, “No, you’re not Beyoncé Knowles,” but I almost one time accepted it because I was like, “Woah, Beyoncé!” I don’t know; there’s too many people faking these accounts and stuff. Yeah, I’m not on TikTok, nor will I probably ever be because I would get so addicted to it. I’ve been unfollowing actually all of the meme accounts that I followed because I spent way too much time being the “meme lord” and sending all the funny stuff to my friends. I’ve realized like I’ve taken into account how much time a day I’m on there doing that, and I’m like, “Wow, those are hours I’ll never get back. I need to stop this; it’s too much.”