EW Staff
December 24, 1993 AT 05:00 AM EST

So what if Beverly Hills, 90210 star Shannen Doherty wasreportedly handed a pink slip for Christmas? The verykiss-my-whip attitude that surely factored into her putativefiring also made her reputation. In 1993, Doherty fused almostseamlessly with her character, Brenda Walsh, creating one killerpersona. Originally scripted as a Goody Two-shoes skipping ontothe West Beverly High fast track from a small Minnesota townfull of dear hearts and gentle people, Brenda mutated into amuch more captivating bitch on very pricey wheels. Theadder-tongued Doherty’s off-camera tiffs buffed Brenda’s imageto a stunning gloss.

Smart producers reshape a role when they’ve got an oddlypromising actor who doesn’t fit the part: Cheers’ creators, forinstance, originally presented goofily gifted Kirstie Alley as achilly boy-buster, then discovered and capitalized on her latenttalent for klutzy comedy. The 90210 producers noted Doherty’sgift for steamrollering all in her path — makeup people, fans,fellow actors, terrified boyfriends — and grafted a slice ofDoherty onto her character, thereby rescuing Brenda fromterminal blandness. (A former child actor, Doherty, 22, made herdebut as Sneezy in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Sheshould’ve played Grumpy.)

Doherty’s sourpuss antics even seem to have given the show astory line or two. Brenda’s whirlwind near-marriage to StuartCarson (David Gall) echoed Shannen’s scuttled engagement toChris Foufas and abrupt nuptials with Ashley Hamilton. WhenBrenda contemplated doing a nude scene in a school play, viewersrecalled Shannen’s publicized thoughts of posing forPlayboy — and the notorious videotape, currently circulatingillicitly, of her nude sex scenes from the set of theforthcoming flick Blindfold, which costars ex-boyfriend JuddNelson.

One magazine dubbed her the worst TV actress of the year, but TVacting is not about what they teach you at Yale DramaSchool — it’s about creating a clean, simple image with globalimpact. And to keep that impact fresh, it’s necessary to varythe character every so often. In what may be her last season inthe 90210 sun, Brenda shows signs of reverting to a hipperversion of her original kindly self: She has become moresensitive, making up with Kelly and Dylan, falling for theRomantic poets, getting a bit mistily poetical herself.

The poet William Butler Yeats once romantically wrote of theartist’s need to choose between perfection of the life and ofthe work. Shannen Doherty screwed up royally in life — andthereby perfected her craft and sullen art. Now all she needs isa steady job. — TA

She proved that a Goody Two-shoes is a lot more fun when a badgirl plays her


She proved that a Goody Two-shoes is a lot more fun when a badgirl plays her

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