Eli On 'The Perfectionists' Seems Innocent, But He's Hiding Something Big

Freeform/Kurt Iswarienko

The new Pretty Little Liars spin-off, The Perfectionists, introduces a whole new cast of shifty characters. The drama — which premieres Wednesday, March 20, on Freeform — follows a group of students at Beacon Heights University, where (surprise!) one of their classmates is murdered. The new series features former PLL fixtures Alison DiLaurentis (Sasha Pieterse) and Mona Vanderwaal (Janel Parrish), but one of the many new characters on The Perfectionists is Dylan Walker (Eli Brown).

Dylan is an aspiring cellist as BHU with dreams of going to Juilliard. Like the other characters in The Perfectionists, Dylan is...well, a perfectionist. The trailer shows him playing the cello until his fingers bleed, then looking down at his injured hand nonchalantly. "Dylan is a perfectionist in every sense of the word," Brown tells Bustle in an interview. "He's very driven, attending one of the most prestigious universities in the United States, and he pushes himself very hard and overextends himself, which is a habit that he's trying to break. But he's well intentioned, he loves music, he loves his boyfriend."

And Dylan's certainly not the only one feeling the push to excel. As the trailer narration details, "Students here will do whatever it takes to stay on top. We thrive under pressure. And the pressure is building to a breaking point." So much so, apparently, that a fellow student, Nolan Hotchkiss (Chris Mason), winds up murdered. But who was the perpetrator, and what was their motivation?

Dylan teams up with Alison (a TA at Beacon Heights) and Mona to try and figure out what happened to his classmate. But since this is in the PLL universe, there's always the possibility that he's guilty, too. "He's definitely got some dark secrets," Brown told E! Online. "I'm not going to share them, but he's a good guy. He's a good spirited guy and a hard worker."

As for the actor himself, The Perfectionists will be Eli Brown's breakout role. The young actor is a 19-year-old from Eugene, Oregon, according to an interview the cast did with Popsugar. In fact, his turn as Dylan is his first onscreen role, which resulted from his first-ever audition — something which makes his fellow cast members "groan in disbelief," according to the article. Brown also stars in the upcoming film The F*ck It List, which doesn't appear to have a release date yet.

And there's a reason Brown's costars call him "Grandpa Eli" — "What's This Is Us?" he asks, when asked about the hit NBC drama during the actor's Popsugar interview. Furthermore, he's spotted reading a paperback Led Zeppelin biography on-set and is much less connected to his phone than his costars, per the same interview. It's clear that Brown isn't used to his new level fame — yet. "It's kind of crazy, and the show's not even out," he told Popsugar about his new legions of social media followers. "It comes with a lot of attention. And I don't like being the center of attention."

Indeed, his Instagram is both uncurated and unassuming, filled with Brown and his friends doing things like skateboarding, boxing, and doing parkour. His mom, Katie Brown, owns a clothing line by the same name, and Eli sweetly added her store URL to his own Instagram profile. In addition to acting, Brown also plays the guitar, per Teen Vogue, so picking up another string instrument seemed to come naturally to him.

"[Dylan's] instrument is cello, and I did do some rehearsal before we went into production," the actor tells Bustle. "But the violin was a spur of the moment thing I found out like, three days before I had to do it. I had never held a violin before, they got a teacher in and actually surprisingly I learned the song in like, an hour. The violin was much easier than the cello."

But as for his newfound fame, hopefully Brown will adjust quickly, because his fans likely aren't going anywhere — especially if The Perfectionists proves to be as big of a hit as its predecessor.

Original reporting by Karen Fratti