Jason Priestley

Jason Priestley

Canadian actor Jason Priestley rose to fame in the late '80s as the virtuous Brandon Walsh on "Beverly Hills 90210" (Fox, 1990-2000), but avoided the pitfalls of post-teen idol fame by successfully transitioning into more mature roles on series like "Call Me Fitz" (HBO Canada/Movie Central/Movie Network, 2010-13) and frequent assignments as a small-screen director and producer. Born Jason Bradford Priestley in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, he began his screen career while in grade school, appearing on television commercials in his native country before making his acting debut in the CBC TV-movie "Stacey" (1978). Though sports were his primary interest during his high school years, he returned to performing in the late 1980s with guest spots on American and Canadian productions, including a pair of appearances on the popular "21 Jump Street" (Fox, 1987-1991) in 1987. Two years later, Priestley joined the cast of the short-lived sitcom "Sister Kate" (NBC, 1989-1990), and while the series lasted just 18 episodes, actress Tori Spelling happened to catch a broadcast, and told her father, producer Aaron Spelling, to allow Priestley to audition for one of the lead roles in his upcoming teen drama series. Priestley vas soon cast as Midwestern teenager Brandon Walsh, whose move to one of the world's wealthiest neighborhoods caused endless drama, on Spelling's "Beverly Hills, 90210." The show was a global hit, and thrust Priestley and his castmates into the epicenter of teen idol worship for much of the series' ten-year run. For Priestley, the attention was an uncomfortable fit, and by 1998, he had parted ways with his star-making project. His extracurricular acting forays during the "90210" period were modest - he starred as an ambitious teenager who sought to meet Marilyn Monroe in "Calendar Girl" (1993) and earned respectable reviews for his brief turn as a deputy in "Tombstone" (1993) and as the object of writer John Hurt's affection in "Love and Death on Long Island" (1997) - but unlike many of his co-stars, Priestley had been exploring other avenues within the entertainment industry during his time on the show. He became an executive producer on "90210" in 1995, and remained in that capacity until the series ran its course in 2000. He also made his directorial debut on a 1997 episode of the revived "Outer Limits" (Showtime/Syfy/syndicated, 1995), and would go on to direct 15 episodes of "90210," as well as a music video and feature-length documentary about the Canadian alt-rock group Barenaked Ladies. After the curtain ran down on "90210," Priestley settled into steady work as a director on series like "7th Heaven" (The WB, 1996-2007) and "The Secret Life of the American Teenager" (ABC Family/Freeform, 2008-2013). He also continued to act, though largely in guest role capacities, before returning to series work as a recurring player on "Tru Calling" (Fox/Syfy, 2003-08) and then as a series regular on the sitcom "Love Monkey" (CBS/VH1, 2006) and the drama "Side Order of Life" (Lifetime, 2007). None of these efforts were particularly successful, but if it bothered Priestley, he seemed to take it in stride and return to his directorial work, which by this point included multiple episodes of webisode series "The Lake" (2009). Between assignments, he also indulged a passion for racecars, and drove in numerous races before suffering a serious injury during a 2002 practice at the Kentucky Speedway. But Priestley rebounded and moved into ownership on several IndyCar Series teams, including FAZZT Race Team, which captured the 2011 Indianapolis 500. By this point, Priestley had also found his first successful post-"90210" acting project in "Call Me Fitz." Priestley appeared to relish the opportunity to play against his clean-cut screen persona, and served as both executive producer and frequent director on the series. When "Fitz" ended in 2013, Priestley returned to the director's chair for series in his native Canada, as well as the feature film "Cas & Dylan" (2013) with Richard Dreyfuss and Tatiana Maslany. That same year, he returned to series work, playing another antihero - an ex-hockey player turned detective - on the Canadian series "Private Eyes" (Global, 2016-), for which he also produced and directed. After paying tribute to his co-star, Luke Perry, in the press after his death in 2019, Priestley reunited with several of his "90210" co-stars to participate in a tongue-in-cheek revival of the series, for which they would play exaggerated versions of themselves dealing with a reboot of the program. Priestley, whose screen persona was that of a frustrated auteur reduced to directing teen programs, served alongside his castmates as executive producer of the series and occasional director, but the experiment lasted only a single season; he then segued into triple as producer, occasional director and co-star of a trio of films based on Gothic novelist V.C. Andrews' "Casteel" novels for Lifetime. In "Dark Angel" (Lifetime, 2019), "Fallen Hearts" (Lifetime, 2019) and "Gates of Paradise" (Lifetime, 2019), Priestley was largely unrecognizable under layers of old-age makeup as the scheming step-grandfather to a group of siblings seeking to part ways with their troubled family.



Guest Appearances