Dark Secrets The Cast Of 90210 Tried To Hide

For ten seasons and 293 episodes, perennial '90s soap opera Beverly Hills, 90210 showcased a long list of intense life issues: sexuality, drugs, animal rights, teen pregnancy, infidelity, domestic violence, bad parenting. You name it! There was probably an episode arc about it. While nothing on set ever quite reached the fever pitch of "Donna's first time," or "Kelly choosing between Dylan and Brandon," the cast did have a few issues of its own that have been revealed over the years. 

Let's investigate who spilled the proverbial Beverly Hills beans as we explore dark secrets the cast of Beverly Hills, 90210 tried to hide.

Nepotism, anyone?

Reality TV star Tori Spelling played the bumbling Donna Martin, who managed to both graduate high school and stay on the show for the entirety of its run. Spelling's father was none other than mega-producer Aaron Spelling, and Beverly Hills, 90210 was basically his baby. After the show ended, Spelling essentially confirmed rumors that nepotism played a role in her being cast on the hit series. In 2000, she said she sensed that daddy dearest gave her a leg up (even if being his daughter meant her character couldn't lose her virginity until the seventh season). 

Tori told Entertainment Weekly that she snatched the script out of her dad's briefcase to check it out. "I really wanted to play Andrea [Zuckerman]. I went in under a different name, then I got the part of Donna — which I'm sure had something to do with my dad," she said. Hey, if nothing else, at least she's honest.

They fought all the time

Though the promo materials implied that the Peach Pit gang was thick as thieves, things definitely weren't so rosy behind the scenes. Original cast member Shannen Doherty, who played Brenda Walsh, was allegedly the source of a lot of drama, reportedly never seeing eye-to-eye with actress Jennie Garth (Kelly Taylor). Garth described what she perceived to be the root of the conflict in her 2014 memoir Deep Thoughts From a Hollywood Blonde. "[Shannen] had opinions about a lot of things, including the writing, the wardrobe, you name it," Garth wrote. "And she wasn't afraid to share them, even if it meant sounding like a complete and utter b****." 

According to Tori Spelling, things got so bad that Doherty even got into a physical fight with Garth, allegedly due to Doherty lifting Garth's skirt during shooting to "expose [her] bare a**...for everyone to see." Spelling spilled the goods during a Lifetime special: "I could hear the door fly open and everyone screaming and crying," she said (per Us Weekly). "That's when I was told the boys just had to break up Jennie and Shannen. It was like a fistfight." 

In 2008, Garth elaborated on those tense on-set vibes, telling The New York Times, "There were times when it was worse than high school. The environment there was like: Are you kidding me? There was a lot of tension and unnecessary drama on the set, a certain amount of competition, and a certain — probably — anger about different salaries as the years progressed."

Oh, those workplace hookups

It wasn't all teeth and claws on the set of Beverly Hills, 90210. In fact, as the years have ticked by since the series finale, a number of cast members have revealed that things got extremely friendly after hours (and we'd venture to guess, after dark). In his 2014 tell-all, aptly titled Jason Priestley: A Memoir, Jason Priestley describes how "various combinations of people slept with each other over the years." In fact, Priestley found real-life love for five years with co-star Christine Elise, who played his unhinged on-screen girlfriend Emily Valentine on 90210. In his book, Priestley reflected fondly on their hook-up: "I could not have asked for a more idyllic first love." 

Tori Spelling also spilled some serious tea when she admitted to having had sex with two of her co-stars, including Priestley. She also dished on her long-term relationship with co-star Brian Austin Green. By the way, Green also reportedly hooked up with co-stars Tiffani Amber Thiessen and Vanessa Marcil (remember Gina?). Marcil and Green have a son together and a lot of lingering animosity. If this web sounds too confusing, Bustle conveniently broke it all down in 2015.

They had some meltdowns

Ian Ziering, who played jock Steve Sanders on Beverly Hills, 90210, eventually admitted that in the early days of the show, he indulged in some less-than-profesh behavior when a final cut of a scene didn't end up going his way. In Season 4, Ziering was filming an episode in which Steve is accused of rape, but when that episode aired, the actor told The Huffington Post (via ABC News) that "they edited out so much powerful stuff." In his view, " That was like the first time I really got some great words to say and I work shopped them and I studied. I brought game, and it never even made it through the edit." In true Steve fashion, Ziering supposedly had a complete meltdown and tore his dressing room apart.

They didn't think the show would be a success

Remember Jim Walsh, played by actor James Eckhouse? Sure you do. He was always doling out tough-love advice to his kids, Brandon and Brenda. As it turns out, Eckhouse wasn't sold on the show in the early days, confessing to The New York Times in 2008 that, "Jason [Priestley] and I used to take bets every week as to when they'd pull the plug on us. Maybe another three weeks or four weeks? We thought, 'Forget it, this is never going to fly.'"

Eckhouse wasn't the only one who harbored doubts about the show's longevity. Ian Ziering shared his initial misgivings with Entertainment Weekly in 2007. "When I read the script for 90210, I thought, boy, this is very superficial, and it was. I mean, the pilot was all about the glitz and the glamour of Beverly Hills, the obnoxious kids, and the fish-out-of-water story of Brenda and Brandon Walsh. I couldn't discern from that first script that the show would become very issue-oriented."

Similarly, Gabrielle Carteris, who played newspaper woman and mom-type Andrea Zuckerman for five seasons (plus a couple "extra special" episodes), told Entertainment Weekly in 2000: "I remember watching the pilot, thinking, "This show is never going to make it. I guess I'll find a waitressing job." Luckily for her, she got to stay on and aimlessly pine away for Brandon for years and years.

They thought some of the plot lines were dumb

Even after the show got rolling and had found undeniable success, some members of the cast continued to feel that the plot lines were stupid. Jennie Garth, in particular, had early misgivings about her character — popular girl Kelly Taylor. "I hated my character," she told Rolling Stone in 1992 "She was just so one-dimensional." Garth also claimed that her attempts to push for more interesting stories were not successful. "I've tried to get them to let Kelly get laid or shoplift, but they wouldn't go for it. It seems like we can never do anything bad. Bad things happen to us." 

In 2008, Garth was still reflecting on some plot lines that bothered her. "The lesbian stalker was really ridiculous for me," she told The New York Times. "And then the one where I got burned in the fire. I had to wear burn makeup on my neck and my face, and then it just magically went away one day. No scars whatsoever. I healed."

Jason Priestly: 'I wasted 9 years of my life'

When Jason Priestley left the show in Season 9, he didn't exactly walk away with a warm and fuzzy feeling. "It was so anticlimactic, it just left a bad taste in my mouth," he told The Guardian in 2014. "It was the fourth episode of the ninth season. I did the first scene of the morning — literally with this actor who was brought in to replace me — and that was it. I hugged the crew, picked up my box of stuff, went to my car and drove away. There was no party, no nothing. I felt like I'd wasted nine years of my life." 

Remember how Oscar-winning actress Hilary Swank was on the show for a little while, playing Steve Sander's girlfriend, Carly Reynolds? Well, Swank was reportedly "devastated" when she got fired just 13 episodes into a two-year contract. Something tells us that she's probably recovered.

They hated the clothes

Nowadays, we can watch Beverly Hills, 90210 in awe, charmed by the incredibly ridiculous (but also kind of awesome) outfits that the cast rocked for ten straight years. As Christine Elise (aka Emily Valentine) reminded us in a 2015 interview with Complex: "How about the mom jeans? On the boys! Jason [Priestley] in mom jeans!"

One cast member apparently wasn't so thrilled with his sartorial assignations. "I wore clothing that looked like outdoor f***ing umbrella material..." Brian Austin Green told Details magazine (via ABC News) in 2010. "I wore pants one time that had lifesavers on them. We had a wardrobe department that thought it was funny, as did I, to come up with the most ridiculous wardrobe."

They lied about their ages

Gabrielle Carteris, who played exceedingly mature high school student Andrew Zuckerman, reportedly lied about her age to nab a part on Beverly Hills, 90210. The actress came clean to Access Hollywood in 2011: "I actually talked to a lawyer about how could I sign these contracts and lie about my age and still be able to do the show. 'Is it OK?' And, 'Yes it is, as long as you just say you're over 21." And that's how a 29-year-old got to play a 16-year-old. (Take note, Riverdale hopefuls.)

Ian Ziering also conveniently brushed over the issue of his real age (28) when he signed on to play 16-year-old Steve Sanders. "I just kept my mouth shut. I never talked about it," he told Entertainment Weekly in 2007. "...I just thought, if they're going to buy, I'm going to sell it." And sell it, he did.

They dealt with anxiety

Once the show really took off, all that attention was overwhelming at times. The stars were basically getting mauled by fans all over the world. As the ever-wise James Eckhouse told Rolling Stone in 1992: "The pressures on these kids are overbearing. Ian Ziering added, "When you're on a hit series, everybody wants a piece of you." 

For Jennie Garth, as her fame and fortune grew, so too did her anxiety. "[S]imple tasks, like going to the grocery store, or the mall, or to get gas, became overwhelming exercises in having to be 'on' when my natural inclination was to shut down and not interact with anyone," she wrote in her 2014 memoir (via E! News). She said she "began to suffer a level of anxiety that [was], at times, nearly paralyzing. When the panic attacks started to kick in, I became even more withdrawn." 

They had some less than wholesome habits

Jason Priestley has admitted to partying pretty hard during his time on Beverly Hills, 90210, mostly "to prove that [he] was nothing like the sanctimonious Brandon Walsh." According to Vulture, he would "smoke and get drunk during every press interview." 

Jennie Garth also recalled the bad-boy side of her co-star. "I remember my mom telling me to keep an eye on the guy with the potty mouth," she wrote in her memoir. "He also smoked cigarettes back then." According to Garth, the cast could get whatever it wanted from the production assistants on set. "They wouldn't have batted an eye if I asked for a bagel and a bump of coke, come to think of it," she wrote. "But I usually just had coffee." 

Gasp! What would Jim Walsh say?

Tori Spelling says she got Shannen Doherty fired

When all was said and done, Shannen Doherty ended up leaving the show in 1994, when her character conveniently moved to London to become an acting student. Co-star Tori Spelling later claimed that she was responsible for Doherty's firing because she told her producer dad about all the drama going down among the cast members. Spelling also admitted that she regretted her involvement in Doherty's exit, telling LIfetime (per Us Weekly): "I felt like I was a part of something, a movement, that cost someone their livelihood."

But Doherty's departure didn't exactly usher in an era of peace. Actress Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, whose pot-smoking character, Valerie Malone, was brought in during Season 5 to replace Brenda Walsh, also reportedly had problems with co-star Jennie Garth. "We had a falling apart and we grew apart," she told Howard Stern in 2012. "I was the one who was hurt, let's just say that." To add even more drama into the mix, Spelling and Thiessen allegedly had beef with one another in 2017, supposedly fueled by Spelling's infidelity to her first husband, who is one of Thiessen's friends.