The actor candidly jokes about getting into character as former high school teacher Ezra in his upcoming memoir Odd Birds, in which he reveals some behind-the-scenes secrets from the Freeform television series.
Harding reveals that one requirement for playing Ezra is having a “smooth, porpoise-y chest” for sex scenes. Although the 30-year-old says the regimen often left him in “agony,” it had lasting impact.
“I know that once it’s done there will be some big changes. Like my hair. I’ve been contractually obligated to have the same haircut for the last seven years,” Harding writes, recalling a conversation with a friend about the show’s end. “Or when my chest hair grows back and I don’t have to worry about shaving it again for work, then I’ll be reminded that the show is really over. That might be when I start to feel nostalgic.”
Sex scenes on the series, in general, were an awkward time, Harding admits. He says that it was the “only” situation that had the actors avoiding craft services in favor of push-ups in their dressing rooms.
Though he got used to sharing such moments with cast mate Lucy Hale over time (she plays his love interest Aria Montgomery), it wasn’t easy at first. Their first on-screen kiss was in PLL‘s pilot during a scene where the pair made out in a bar bathroom.
“I flossed at least three times before that scene,” Harding reveals. “I had a bottle of mouthwash with me on set, and I gargled between every take.”
Though Harding says he doesn’t like watching himself on screen, his family takes the opposite approach: his father and stepmother host weekly viewing parties at their Virginia home.
“They are current on all of the gossip, all of the rumors and fan theories, all of the Easter eggs that the show has to offer,” he writes in Odd Birds.
RELATED VIDEO: Ian Harding on What It’s like to Kiss Lucy Hale
Now, with the series airing its final season premiere on Tuesday, Harding says saying goodbye is “difficult to describe.”
He explains, “It’s similar to the pain you experience when reading a book that has really moved you.”
Pretty Little Liars begins its final season Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on Freeform, and Odd Birds (St. Martin’s Press) comes out May 2.