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Jason Priestley: I regret leaving ‘90210’

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Story highlights

Jason Priestley told CNN he let Aaron Spelling down when he left "Beverly Hills, 90210"

He also regrets his departure because "there were no more Walshes in the Walsh House"

He directed the candle-lit episode where Donna loses her virginity

His new book also talks rooming with Brad Pitt, a near-fatal car crash and fatherhood

CNN —  

Jason Priestley played Brandon Walsh on “Beverly Hills 90210” from 1990 to 1998. Having long since hung up his Peach Pit uniform and Beverly Hills Beach Club cabana boy polo shirt, his character became a journalist and departed to take a job at the Washington Bureau of the New York Chronicle, and Priestley left the show four episodes into the series’ ninth season.

“I felt that the character of Brandon had kind of run his course. I had explored everything I wanted to explore with him,” Priestley told CNN while promoting his new book, “Jason Priestley: A Memoir” (HarperOne) at the New York Bureau of CNN.

Jason Priestley has released his memoir, aptly titled "Jason Priestley: A Memoir"
Heidi Gutman/ABC via Getty Images
Jason Priestley has released his memoir, aptly titled "Jason Priestley: A Memoir"

“In retrospect, I do regret leaving. Understanding what I do now about story and character, I believe that [Aaron Spelling] was pushing the story in a direction that would have had Brandon and Kelly end up together at the end of the show and I think I probably should have stuck around to its fruition.”

Fans of “90210” surely remember Kelly Taylor’s (Jennie Garth) “I choose me” speech following Brandon and Dylan McKay’s (Luke Perry) showdown for her affections. Brandon wanted Kelly to marry him. Dylan wanted to take her on a trip around the world. But Priestley believes Executive Producer Aaron Spelling had always envisioned Brandon and Kelly riding off into the sunset.

“I think my departure also hurt Aaron’s feelings,” continued Priestley. “Aaron and I had worked very closely together for a number of years. He gave me a lot of opportunities, and I feel like my departure hurt his feelings and I never meant to do that.”

Among the opportunities Spelling afforded the Vancouver-born Priestley was the opportunity to direct several “90210” episodes – 15 in total. In fact, Priestley directed two of the series’ most iconic: The one where Dylan’s wife, Toni Marchette (Rebecca Gayheart) was killed in a mob hit mix-up in which Dylan was the target; and the episode where Donna Martin (Tori Spelling) lost her virginity.

“Everyone remembers the candles,” Priestly, 44, said of the episode in which Donna had sex for the first time. “But I could only have, like, six candles because they didn’t want to pay for a fire marshal, which would have cost $350.”