'Beverly Hills, 90210: Behind Closed Doors': Luke Perry's Dylan McKay almost did not make it to Fox's show

Once the pilot was shot and screened, producers felt something missing and decided to add a rebel to spice things up


                            'Beverly Hills, 90210: Behind Closed Doors': Luke Perry's Dylan McKay almost did not make it to Fox's show
Luke Perry in 'Beverly Hills, 90210' (Fox)

When Luke Perry passed away last year, it hit many of us in a raw and personal way. While today's teenagers fondly remember him as Archie Andrew's (KJ Apa) father, Fred Andrew, for the teenagers of yesteryear, Perry would always be remembered for playing television teen drama's original bad boy, Dylan McKay in 'Beverly Hills, 90210'.

'Beverly Hills, 90210' revolutionized TV in many ways, it set the standards for many of the teen dramas that followed it, including 'The OC', 'One Tree Hill', and 'Gossip Girl'. Along with making its actors huge stars, 'Beverly Hills, 90210' gave young adults the kind of stories they needed.

In many of those stories, Dylan played a key role. He was the bad boy with a heart of gold - someone teenage girls fell in love with instantly. But the character was not part of the original pilot. Reelz's 'Beverly Hills, 90210: Behind Closed Doors' tells us how Perry came to be an integral part of the show.

The first actors to be cast for their roles on 'Beverly Hills, 90210' were Jennie Garth as Kelly Taylor, Gabrielle Carteris as Andrea Zuckerman, Tori Spelling as Donna Martin, Ian Ziering as Steve Sanders, Brian Austin Green as David Silver and of course, Shannen Doherty as Brenda Walsh.

After an intense casting process -- so that the producers could get the right actors to play these roles -- a 90-minute pilot was shot. At the time, Fox was a new, fledgling network and not much money went into the production of the show. The producers even hired up-and-coming writers because they would have cost less; one of the many decisions that would pay out well in the longterm.

Luke Perry and Shannen Doherty as Dylan McKay and Brenda Walsh in 'Beverly Hills, 90210' (Fox)

Once the pilot was shot and screened, the producers of the show had a few notes. The actor who played the Walsh siblings' father was recast, but more importantly, key producer Aaron Spelling (known for 'Charlie's Angels' from the 70s, 'Dynasty' from the 80s') felt that something was missing.

It was then that the producers felt they needed to add a rebel character to the mix to spice things up. And thus was born Dylan McKay, a bad boy who read poems by John Keats and Percy Shelley.

However, the producers' dilemma continued. Many young men auditioned for the role of Dylan McKay and none could get it right. By now, the producers worried that they would never get the part cast. Then came along Perry. From the onset, everyone knew he was the right actor for the role, including Carol Potter, who played the Walsh matriarch, Cindy Walsh. Perry's audition, which included the first bit in French, floored everyone. 

However, another roadblock came along. As we mentioned, at the time Fox was a new network and the network executives were not keen on adding another cast member at that stage. So, Spelling himself foot the bill to cast Perry, paying the actor out of his own pockets -- something he is not known to do.

Of course, Spelling's decision paid off. Dylan McKay -- and with him, Luke Perry -- became household names in the '90s and even remain iconic today. In fact, most of television's bad boys owe their existence to this one character who almost never existed.

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