Priestly: From ‘90210’ to Now
Jason Priestly was born on August 28, 1969 in Vancouver, Canada. He started in the acting business as a young child, starring in commercials that were based in Canada. Although he enjoyed acting and came from a family of actors, Priestly decided to put acting on the back burner and focused on competitive sports while he was in high school.
But after high school, he put aside sports and acting took center stage in Priestly’s life. He began with small bit parts in Canadian television, until 1989 when he landed a role on an American sitcom as Todd Mahaffey in ‘Sister Kate.’ Although ‘Sister Kate’ was not necessarily a huge success, it indeed played an important role in landing Priestly the part that would make him famous: Brandon Walsh in ‘90210.’ When Tori Spelling, daughter of ‘90210’ creator Aaron Spelling saw Priestly on ‘Sister Kate,’ she was so impressed that she suggested to her father that he consider Priestly for a part on ‘90210.’
By portraying the handsome and good-natured Brandon Walsh, Priestly went on to become one of the biggest heartthrobs of the 1990s. His face graced the covers of teen magazines everywhere. Soon thereafter his name became a household name.
Although ‘90210’ gave Priestly nearly a decade of success, it became difficult for him to separate himself from the television show. It was difficult for the public to not disassociate his face from the role he played on ‘90210.’
Playing Brandon Walsh was a great time in Priestly’s life and he is not opposed to making a reunion episode that would bring the old cast together.
‘It was a good show and it was a great time,’ Priestly said. ‘It was certainly a great time in my life. I’m certainly not opposed to making a reunion episode. I would like to see us doing something filmatic, as opposed to us just sitting around and talking about the old days. It would be a lot of fun because I love those guys and we’re all still really good friends.’
After ‘90210,’ Priestly pursued a career in film. He has had some notable hits, such as ‘Love and Death on Long Island,’ co-starring John Hurt, and his most recent film, ‘Die Mommie Die’ (2003). Priestly has also had his hand in directing such projects as ‘Barenaked in America,’ a documentary about the music group, Barenaked Ladies.
As a result of Priestly’s fame, it is difficult to make mistakes. For example, in 1998 Priestly drove his Porsche into a telephone pole in the Hollywood Hills. He was arrested for drunk driving and spent five days in a Los Angeles prison. Priestly made the same mistake of driving while under the influence on March 28th, 2000 as he proceeded to drive his car into trash cans. Priestly was arrested again for drunk driving and again spent five days in a Los Angeles jail.
Though those two accidents were harmless, Priestly was not as lucky when he suffered a nearly fatal car accident while competing in a professional car race on the Kentucky Auto Racing Speedway. On August 11, 2002, a car’s engine exploded during a practice run before the actual race was about to begin. In order to cover up the oil on the speedway, the crew put down a ‘quick dry’ substance. Once the race began, one wheel of Priestley’s car, which was traveling at 182 mph, touched the substance and he suffered two head on collisions as a result of his car crashing into the wall of the speedway twice.
Priestly suffered a broken back, broken feet, and facial damage that rendered him beyond recognition.
In an interview with Barbara Walters on 20/20, Priestly said, ‘They tell me that when they were pulling me out of the car and they pulled my helmet off, my nose was pushed so far up into my forehead, they could actually see into my sinuses and look into my head.’
Priestly had to endure several surgeries to correct the damage done to his back, legs, feet, face and eyes.
Suffering such a dangerous accident has changed the way Priestly looks at life.
‘I think that before I had the accident it was very easy for me to put on the blinders and keep myself focused on where I needed to go and not really pay attention to things that were going on around me,’ Priestly said. ‘But now I’ve realized to look at the big picture.’
Although it has only been a little over a year since his accident, Priestly has kept himself busy making films. He will be starring with Vivica A. Fox in ‘Beauty Shop,’ and then he will go to Canada to work on a romantic comedy entitled ‘I Want to Marry Brian Banks.’
When asked if he will ever race again, he says he is unsure.
‘I don’t know if I can,’ Priestly said. ‘I won’t know how it is until I actually get in a race car and see what condition I am in mentally, physically and emotionally.’
Until he decides whether or not to return to professional racing, Priestly will continue to make movies and play hockey.