The cast of BH90210 are opening up about how the reboot helped them "heal" from the grief of losing costar Luke Perry, and the scenes that honor him in the first episode.
“A lot of thought went into it,” executive producer Chris Alberghini said during a panel with the cast at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour in Beverly Hills, California, on Wednesday. “We knew we had to acknowledge and pay tribute to him. Obviously, it was a very painful loss for the cast and everyone who knew him, and we wanted to do it in as respectful a way as possible.”
In the first episode of Fox’s reboot, the cast make a toast that alludes to Perry’s absence during a plane ride. And at the end of the episode, BH90210's Tori and Jennie start rewatching the original series' pilot and pause on an iconic scene where Dylan is driving Brandon to the beach and says, "Welcome to paradise, man. Welcome to your dream come true."
“It was something we discussed a great deal with everyone in the cast, and it was trial and error,” Alberghini continued. “There were a few things we tried that didn’t work, then we found a way we all felt comfortable with that we felt honored him appropriately.”
Cast members also discussed how they had talked with Perry before his death (in March after suffering a stroke) about the possibility of having him appear on the series.
“We had had conversations with him and he was fully in support with it,” Jennie Garth said. “He was in contract with another show, Riverdale, but he was someone we had talked to and thrown ideas around with.”
“He talked about guesting on the show, since he was contracted somewhere else,” Gabrielle Cateris added. “He started communication [and had shared] ideas.”
Meanwhile,Shannen Doherty, who played Perry’s former onscreen love interest Brenda, reiterated how changing her mind about taking part in the reboot had proved to be a healing experience when it came to dealing with her grief.
“When Luke passed away, things drastically changed for me and I felt like it was a great opportunity to honor him, and I’m really glad I made that decision because now I get to sit up here with a lot of people I respect and love," Doherty said. "We went on this amazing journey together where we also got to heal through losing somebody who means the world to all of us.”
Speaking further about how their reunion has helped them personally, Carteris shared how the cast’s explosive fame in the '90s had been somewhat “traumatic,” but that they were now able to make peace with those struggles.
“It was a hard time at those times,” Carteris said. “It was a lot of to come up all at once and it was unexpected -- the success of the show in those early years. There was a lot of trauma, and this show helped us work through some of that.”
BH90210 also doesn't shy away from dramatizing those kind of real-life experiences and hardships, with several of the cast's heightened versions of themselves blurring the line between fact and fiction. For example, BH90210's Tori has several young children (she has five in real life with husband Dean McDermott) and has financial problems, which serves as a through line for her character in the series.
"We've all had that moment where there are perceptions of us. A lot of antics go on and we make note of it as material," Garth said. Spelling added that part of the fun of BH90210 is to give permission for the audience to determine for themselves what aspects of the TV version of themselves are actually based in fact and what aren't.
But don't think BH90210 is going to be one and done. The plan, at least as it was alluded to on Wednesday, is that the stars hope for a multiple-season run on Fox, should it be deemed successful.
"We would love to continue to work together. It's been such an amazing experience," Spelling said. "As adults, we get to revisit our old selves and get a chance to do things over. We have so many stories to tell that this could go season after season."
Carteris added that while the first episodes were filmed in Vancouver, Canada, she hopes that if they continue, they will get to bring filming home to Beverly Hills.
And while the first two episodes of BH90210 features only one pivotal guest star from the original series, Christine Elise, who played Emily Valentine, the cast hopes that they will be able to welcome back more favorites if the show continues past these six episodes.
Fans may even get to see the original stars slipping back into their iconic Beverly Hills, 90210 characters at some point!
"You might see an authentic episode," Ziering said of the cast reprising their original characters. "But right now, it's all about the journey of us coming together."