'90210' Hunk Luke Perry Now a Doting Dad

Fess up. If you were a "Beverly Hills 90210" fan, you know you wanted to be the girlfriend of bad boy Dylan McKay, even if you were in cougar territory. For Luke Perry, the actor who played that incredible hunk, the role earned him a number six ranking in the 2005 "TV Guide" list of TV's Greatest Teen Idols. Today Perry has taken on new roles, including fatherhood. An edited version of our interview with him follows.

by Ilyssa Panitz • More.com Celebrity Reporter
luke perry porsche photograph
Photograph: Dan Coplan

More: The last time I saw you on the small screen, you were teaming up with your former Beverly Hills costar Jason Priestly in Hallmark’s Goodnight for Justice
Luke Perry: Yes, that was an idea I thought up and then got Jason involved in. Matter of fact, I am doing two more of those films this summer, playing the same character but telling a different story.

More: When you and Jason reunited, was it like old times?

LP: Yes, only we are a little older now. But it did not take us long to get up to speed, because we know exactly how the other works and we have never been out of touch. Ever since the show went off the air, we have never gone more than a month without speaking.

More: Nice to keep up the friendship. You also shot a movie over in Sweden to be released here on DVD this summer.
LP: Yes. It is called Swedish Midsummer Sex Comedy, and it's about their national holiday that celebrates sex and life. Although I am known for my dramatic roles, I am always going for the comedy and have been told on set, “Luke, this is not a comedy; this is serious. Go back and do it again.”

More: How would you compare the roles you're tackling today to parts, let’s say, 10 years ago?
LP: Ten years ago, there was a leather jacket and a motorcycle. These days, I'm on horseback with suede and denim. I really try to find parts that I want to play, and sometimes there is a period of time when there aren’t any.

More: What’s that like?
LP: People in this town have very little imagination and very little memory. They forget that you once helped them, and as a result they stop taking your calls when it’s not really happening for you. You have to find the strength to stand on your own two feet. Look, show business can use you up and spit you out. You have to know that going into this.

More: Because Beverly Hills was such an incredible success, do you feel you got typecast for your role as Dylan McKay?
LP: The imagination of executives in the business, and mind you, I am holding my fingers half an inch apart, is that big. They can’t imagine anything else. As a matter of fact, the day I went in to audition for that show, they said, “There is no way he is Dylan McKay.” It was Aaron Spelling who said, “No, this is the guy.”
More: What is your reaction when people compare your looks to those of James Dean?
LP: It has been mentioned to me. I know that we both have receding hairlines and a good share of wrinkles. I think people combined those two things to compare us. I thought when my buddy James Franco played James Dean, he looked pretty much like him. But for the record, I have better hair than Franco.

More: What are some projects you would love to work on one day?
LP: I want to play Andrew Jackson and I am working on that right now. Jackson was one of our greatest presidents. He was the only president to have “an era of Jackson” after his run at the White House. No other president had that. Although Jackson was a flawed man and did some abominable things, he also did some pretty great things.

More: What actor would you love to work with?
LP: Jeff Bridges. I have been giving that same answer since 1990.

More: Aside from your career, you are also a single dad.
LP: Yes.

More: Has that been hard?
LP: It's the hardest thing I have ever done and it is not getting any easier. After you do a hard physical task, you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. That is not the case here. To be a parent in today’s day and age is really scary.

More: What’s your greatest dad challenge?
LP: You compete with technology for your children’s attention and for your time with them. It's difficult for me to carve out quality time with them, but I do it. I make everyone, including myself, put their phones away so we can be together.

More: Do you monitor what your children do on the computer?
LP: Yes, and it forces your hand at having discussions about really mature subject matters at a time when they may or may not be ready for it.

More: Speaking of adult matters, how did you explain your divorce to your children?
LP: I don’t talk about that.

More: Would you let your kids follow in your footsteps and pursue acting?
LP: My kids are much smarter than I ever was. They are gifted and I think they could be doctors. I'm hoping they want to work in medicine.

More: Do you still get recognized for your role as Dylan?
LP: Only when I leave the house. Once you go out the front door, it's on.

More: What was life like during that era?
LP: Loud. It was very loud. It seems everywhere we went, people were screaming at us and I am more of a quiet person.

More: You left the series and then came back. Why?
LP: Yes, because I couldn’t do it anymore and play the character to the fullest. I came back because one of my closest friends—Paul Waigner, our executive producer—was dying of cancer, and I wanted to spend the last year of his life with him. There is nothing I value more than friendship and Paul taught me about all the important stuff in television, such as treating people right. It was my destiny to be with him one last time.

More: What about your feelings for Aaron Spelling?
LP: The man who lit the fuse for my career? I have strong feelings for him. We laughed, we cried and we did it all. Aaron was great to me.

More: How would you describe your offscreen relationship with Shannen Doherty, who played your girlfriend for many seasons?
LP: We didn’t hang out much, and we didn’t have that much in common.

More: Do you still keep in touch with any of your other 90210 pals?
LP: I was just on the phone with Brian Austin Green. Brian is going to be the king of the world in this business. He is so talented, so together and he is going to be a monster, in a good way. Brian is entertaining and I really miss working with him.

More: Many Hollywood famous faces are baring skin these days. Would you do it, too?
LP: I ain’t baring anything [laughs]. The only time I wouldn’t wear clothes is if that is what the scene called for in a movie I was doing.

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First Published Fri, 2011-06-10 12:48

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