Actress Holly Marie Combs kicked her career off in the mid-80s with projects like Walls of Glass and Sweet Hearts Dance. In the early ’90s, Combs rose to prominence thanks to her portrayal of Kimberly Brock in the family drama show Picket Fences. Since then, fans have watched the actress in successful shows like Charmed and Pretty Little Liars.
Today, we’re taking a closer look at just why Holly Marie Combs almost said no to Pretty Little Liars — and just what ended up changing her mind. Keep on scrolling to find out!
While the younger audience may only know Holly Marie Combs from her role in Pretty Little Liars, the actress actually starred in one of the most successful shows of the late ’90s — the fantasy drama show Charmed which ran from 1998 until 2006. In it, Combs portrayed Piper Halliwell, and she starred alongside Shannen Doherty, Alyssa Milano, and Rose McGowan.
The actress admitted that Charmed remained a big part of her life and that she still enjoys talking about it. « It was such a big part of my life that it doesn’t seem like it was that long ago, » Combs said.
« It’s still very much at the forefront of many peoples’ lives and consciousnesses that doing stuff like these conventions really does bring it to my attention that people do still watch it. »
Holly Marie Combs admitted that there is a difference between her Charmed fans and her Pretty Little Liars fans. « It’s very funny. The Charmed fans and the ones who watch Pretty Little Liars, they yell at me because I was not in it enough, as if it was under my control, » the actress revealed.
« Then there’s the core of Pretty Little Liars fans who are like, ‘You’re Aria’s Mom,’ – Ella doesn’t even have a name, I’m just ‘Aria’s Mom’. They’re like, ‘I didn’t know you played in a show before about witches,’ and I’m always like, ‘…Really?!’ – it’s so funny to watch. »
Because Holly Marie Combs has been on a successful show prior to Pretty Little Liars, the actress knew just how much work and dedication it can require to star in multiple seasons. Because Combs started a family in the 2000s — she has three sons together with her ex-husband David Donoho — she didn’t want to be away from her children too much.
In an interview with The New York Post, Holly Marie Combs admitted that the only reason she ended up saying yes to Pretty Little Liars was that she would have to work only two to three days a week.
The rest of her time she could spend with her family. « What I wanted to do this pilot season was find something that was worth leaving my kids for. This show was seamless – they said I would work two to three days a week on this contemporary series and remain a float in the business, » Combs admitted. « At the same time, I could be home long enough to make my kids realize they weren’t raised by nannies. Which is my biggest goal at the moment. »
As fans know, Holly Marie Combs ended up portraying Ella Montgomery through all 7 seasons of Pretty Little Liars. From Season 1 until the end of Season 3 she was a main cast member and from Season 4 until the end of Season 7 (which was the show’s final season) she was a special guest star.
The actress admitted that she enjoyed working on the show for seven years.
« I did a show for eight years and I was able to be part of this one for seven – I couldn’t ask for more. It’s nice, especially with this show, to go out when people are still interested in it and still really want to watch it, as opposed to having it fade away into obscurity! It’s nice and it’s sad at the same time, but I get to see Lucy when out in Australia, so we can pretend like it’s not over just yet, » the actress admitted.
Holly Marie Combs also added that both Charmed and Pretty Little Liars ended up defining her career. « The thing about the two shows is that there are generations who watch it together; younger sisters will sit with older sisters or daughters will watch it with mums or daughters and sons will watch it with dads. Even grandparents, » Combs said laughingly.
« It’s always surprising to me and it’s funny to hear their stories, where people will be watching Charmed and little kids will go, ‘That’s Ella!’ and the older person will go, ‘No – that’s Piper.’ They argue about which character they associate me with more, which is great. That means I did my job correctly! »