Exclusive: Randy Spelling on 90210’s Teen Drama Legacy

6 09 2009

Famous family aside, Randy Spelling made his own name for himself by playing not one but two (!) characters on Beverly Hills 90210.

In our exclusive interview, Randy reflects on growing up in the public eye and how acting remains in his heart, even after a career change.

TeenDramaWhore: On Beverly Hills 90210, you started off with a bit part in the season 3 summer episodes. You then transitioned to the character of Ryan, brother to Ian Ziering’s Steve. Who’s idea was it to change and expand role?

Randy Spelling: I started in 90210 playing Kenny, the assistant to Henry [James Pickens Jr.] at the Beverly Hills Beach Club.  My dad [Aaron Spelling] and sister [Tori Spelling] thought it would be fun for me to see if I liked acting or not.  Being 13 years old and in 8th grade, I got onto set and when I realized there was so much waiting around in between shots, I was so bored!!  I just wanted to be a kid and play, not wait around all day to say one line!  When I was actually serious about acting and had already been on another show for NBC called “Malibu Shores,” a part came up that was my age for Steve’s brother.  It was a natural fit and people weren’t too worried about anyone remembering me as Kenny, the geeky beach club assistant.

TDW: You appeared in less than 20 episodes but had some weighty storylines: dropping out of college, teen sex, family relationships.etc. One of the most memorable for me was the episode where your character got alcohol poisoning after drinking too much (Episode 6.26, Smashes). Do you have a favorite storyline or episode?

Spelling: I did have some weighty story lines in 90210.  That is what I loved about the show, because even though it was a soap-style primetime serial, 90210 really tried to address lots of issues that were and still are relevant to what kids go through.  I grew up watching 90120 and I learned some very important things from it.  I could never master the coolness of Dylan McKay [Luke Perry] though!   My favorite story line that I did was the one where I came home from school to visit Steve and Janet [Lindsay Price] and lied to them about how school was and what was really going on [ed. note: Episode 10.19, I Will Be Your Father Figure] .  I thought that in order to fit in and be accepted, I needed to do what was expected of me.  Ryan let the pressure get to him and he rebelled until, with Steve’s support, he went back to school [ed. note: Episode 10.20, Ever Hear The One About The Exploding Father?].  It was fun to transition from the little brother who always got told what to do into more of a man where I rebelled and made my own decisions.  It was also fun yelling at Ian!

TDW: You had very few scenes with your real-life sister, Tori.  Was this done purposefully?

Spelling: It wasn’t on purpose that my character didn’t have many scenes with my sister’s character, our story lines just didn’t cross that much.  It was really comfortable though when we were in scenes together.

TDW: You and Tori essentially grew up on the show, as it lasted for 10 years.  What is it like having that kind of record of your life?

Spelling: We did grow up for 10 years on the show, more for Tori than for me.  It is funny to have that record of your life on film.  But it is just like a song that you hear on the radio and it brings you back to a certain situation you were in.  When I think back to one of those episodes, it brings me back to where I was at the time.

TDW: Do you keep in touch with any of the cast?

Spelling: I do not keep in touch with any of the cast.  I was good friends with [Brian Austin Green, David].  We talk every once in a while; that is about it.

TDW: How do you think being on 90210 prepared you for your leading role on Sunset Beach?

Spelling: 90210 prepared me for my role on Sunset Beach only by watching the cast and their professionalism.  Working on a primetime series is so very different from daytime.  One is shot on film, one is shot on tape.  When I got used to doing daytime where we shot one episode, about 70 pages a day, it felt so slow to go back on 90210 where we did 7 pages a day!

TDW: Do you watch the new 90210?  What do you think your dad would say about it?

Spelling: I do not watch the new 90210.  I watched the first couple of episodes.  I liked it and I saw a lot of similarities to the old one, but much racier and current.  My dad would have liked it but I think he would be shocked at first about how much further they could take certain story lines and relationships then they did back in the first one.

TDW: What do you think is 90210’s legacy in the world of television and/or teen dramas?

Spelling: I think 90210 really paved the way for what a teen high school drama show is all about.  From high school, into college and then after, 90210 showed what it was like growing up and what a rite of passage was all about.  I was shocked when I heard they were remaking it.  I thought it was pretty remarkable considering BH 90210 just went of the air in 2000.  That is impressive and shows how popular it really was.

TDW: You made a massive career change.  How did that come about and why? Can you explain what exactly you do now?

Spelling: I now currently work as a life coach.  I grew up in an entertainment family and from early on, I figured that was all I could ever do.  I have always loved spirituality, psychology and the way that people work and function.  After my dad passed away, I looked around and realized that I wasn’t being fulfilled spiritually as much as I wanted to be.  Someone suggested life coaching.  I took a seminar to see if it was something I was interested in.  I figured, I will sign up for 2-year schooling, [and] even if I don’t become a life coach, the skills would be amazing to possess.  It is a rigorous self-exploration process as well.  In the midst of working with people, I realized how much I love working with other people, facilitating them to find happiness, peace and purpose as well as helping them shift certain things that were holding them back.  To be a part of someone else’s journey in this way and to reflect their light back unto them is what I am passionate about! I help empower people to find what it is that is in their heart.  If there are blocks or things holding them back, we identify them and move through them so they can be their full potential.  My coaching can help with relationships, career, life purpose, spirituality, feeling stuck, addiction, etc… You can find out more at  www.randyspelling.com.

TDW: Would you ever go back to acting?

Spelling: Acting is something that is in my heart and such a fun, creative outlet.  I will never close the door on acting because it is fun for me.  There is a possibility of seeing me on screen again, as long as it is something I am passionate about.  My philosophy is this:  If I feel passionate about something or if it sounds fun, then that is where I will gravitate towards.  These two things are my compass that guides me in life.

Come back this Tuesday at noon for a special exclusive, an interview with 90210’s newest cast member.

And don’t forget: 90210’s second season premieres Tuesday at 8pm eastern.  I’ll be live-blogging it!

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