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In his new tell-all, Jason Priestley: A Memoir, the ’90s heartthrob takes us back to his humble Canadian childhood when everyone mistook him for a girl, the heyday of Beverly Hills 90210 stardom when the world was one giant oyster for him and pals Luke Perry and Ian Ziering, and the car crash that almost killed him — or did kill him, actually, before he was revived by doctors after a horrific racing accident.
Though the memoir is not as deeply “tell-all” as some 90210 fanatics might have hoped, he does offer some fun tidbits on first loves, not-yet-famous friends and on-set shenanigans, six of which are recapped here:
Priestley’s first love was Holly Robinson (Peete).
The two met in the makeup trailer while shooting 21 Jump Street, which Robinson was starring in when young Priestley, a high school senior and five years her junior, was cast in an episode. It was love at first sight. The feeling was apparently mutual as the two dated seriously for some time, flying back and forth between Los Angeles, where Priestley soon moved to pursue a Hollywood career, and Vancouver, where Robinson was shooting. Though the romance eventually ran its course, Priestley has only fond memories, stating, “I could not have asked for a more idyllic first love.”
Brad Pitt was just a random dude asleep in Priestley’s bed when they first met.
Just another unemployed couch-surfer, Pitt was crashing with Priestley’s roommate in North Hollywood when Priestley came home from a shoot to discover a “tall skinny guy” sleeping in his bed. The two quickly became best buds — think Brandon and Dylan if they had met in acting class — in those pre-Thelma & Louise days. “We lived on ramen noodles and generic beer — the kind that came in white cans labeled BEER — and Marlboro Light cigarettes,” Priestley recalls. “We were all broke.” He also remembers Pitt sneaking off to visit his secret girlfriend, Geena Davis, after Thelma wrapped, noting that the far more famous actress refused to visit Pitt’s frat-like West Hollywood duplex.
Shannen Doherty was always a nightmare.
Priestley was mostly amused by his precocious co-star, whose diva-like demands from the very first days of 90210 would eventually get her booted from the show by Aaron Spelling. “She really and truly did not give a shit,” says Priestley, remembering how Doherty once scoffed at a Fox publicist for ordering her a town car instead of a limo before the show was even picked up. “It was a very cool attitude, until it wasn’t.”
The cast of 90210 did indeed hook up with each other.
Though he remains coy about the details, Priestley confirms that “various combinations of people slept with each other over the years.” He does go into detail about his five-year relationship with actress Christine Elise, who played bad girl Emily Valentine on the show. “Christine was my first full-fledged adult relationship,” he says, and remembers how the tabloids credited Elise with taming his infamous hard-partying ways, born from his need “to prove that I was nothing like the sanctimonious Brandon Walsh.”
Tori Spelling sold Priestley’s wedding invitation at a yard sale.
Priestley was less than pleased to discover on the evening news that Spelling made $5 off of selling the invitation from when the actor wed Naomi Lowde in 2005. He describes his once-close relationship with Spelling as having chilled a bit since she married Dean McDermott. “The producers of Tori and Dean’s ubiquitous show do make a point of asking me to appear on every iteration. So far I haven’t been able to find the time,” he quips.
And maybe the best factoid of all:
In the legendary “Donna Martin graduates” episode of 90210, the crowd marching across the football field is actually shouting “Donna Martin masturbates!” which Priestley instigated as a goof. “I knew they were going to go back and reloop this dialogue anyway,” he explains, “so it was pretty irresistible” We’ll never look at that scene — or Donna — quite the same way again.
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