'Beverly Hills, 90210: Behind Closed Doors': How Luke Perry and Jason Priestley bonded over a common passion
While Priestley was one of the first actors to be cast for 'Beverly Hills, 90210', Perry joined only after producers felt they needed to add a rebel character to spice things up
This Sunday night, Reelz aired its special, 'Beverly Hills, 90210: Behind Closed Doors', and one of the things the special dives into is the close friendship between stars Luke Perry and Jason Priestley who played Dylan McKay and Brandon Walsh respectively.
While Priestley was one of the first actors to be cast for 'Beverly Hills, 90210', Perry joined the cast only after the pilot was filmed and screened and producers felt they needed to add a rebel character to spice things up. Priestley and Perry did not know each other before, and in one of their first scenes together, they had to do surf. The actors bonded when they realized that both of them did not know how to surf.
On screen, Dylan and Brandon became quick friends as Dylan started to date Brandon's sister, Brenda (Shannen Doherty) and Brandon got to hang out with someone who wasn't like the party crowd in the new city he had moved to. However, their friendship soured when both of them fell for Kelly Taylor (Jennie Garth). When Dylan cheated on Brenda with Kelly, it made things worse. Still, Brandon and Dylan's friendship was vital to the show. Brandon was Dylan's voice of reason and was there for him when the troubled teen needed him. Later, Brandon served as Dylan's best man at his wedding to Antonia Marchette (Rebecca Gayheart).
Off screen, Perry and Priestley became good friends. In Reelz's special, there is a footage of Perry fondly speaking of an incident when Priestley's ice hockey skills were put to use on the show. When Perry ribbed at Priestley calling him a figure skater, as shooting for the scene started, Priestley body-checked Perry, sending the latter flying 15 feet. Both Perry and Priestley were professional actors with successful shows to their names before 'Beverly Hills, 90210' skyrocketed them to more fame and both knew they couldn't play their 90210 characters for too long. When Perry left the show after six seasons, Priestley was heartbroken. However, when Priestley was set to leave after the ninth season, Perry came back as a guest star for the show's final two seasons.
There is one moment during the special when viewers will realize just how much Priestley meant to Perry. In 2002, at the Kentucky Speedway — by this time Jason Priestley was a professional racer — the car Priestley was driving crashed head-on into a wall at nearly 180 mph at the Kentucky Speedway, breaking his back and leaving him in serious condition with a head injury. When the actor was taken away to the hospital, he was unconscious.
When Perry speaks about this, he tears up and is soon unable to face the camera. He turns around in his chair, facing the other way from the camera and even leaves to have a moment to gather his bearings. Perry then tells us that he was by Priestley's bedside in the hospital and when Priestley woke up, Perry was the first person he saw. When Priestley saw Perry, he spoke Luke Perry's full name as in the latter's birth certificate. Perry tells viewers that Priestley is very smart and that moment he did so because the actor knew that the doctors were trying to figure out if he sustained any of his injuries.
When Perry died last year, we were all heartbroken, including Priestley. The actor did not initially respond, but a couple of days after Perry passed away, Priestley posted a moving tribute on Instagram, writing, "It’s taken me a couple of days to figure out how to write this... My dear friend of 29 years, Luke Perry, was one of those truly special people who really cared." He added, " Luke was not only a star, he was an incredibly bright light that was extinguished far too soon... and that is why I, and so many others, are in so much pain today."
This year, on the first anniversary of Luke Perry's death, Priestley posted a snap of the pair and wrote, "I don’t even have the words... miss you my brother... May you Rest In Peace... #riplukeperry."