The actress who portrays Erin Silver on the CW series talks about what's in store for the rest of the season
Jessica Stroup has certainly been a busy young actress. With credits in 19 films and TV shows over just a four-year span, Stroup has been constantly moving up in the Hollywood circuit and her biggest breakthrough to date is starring in the CW Network's new remake series, 90210, which airs a very special episode on Tuesday, April 7 at 9 PM ET on the CW Network. This episode marks the return of two of the original stars of Beverly Hills, 90210, in different capacities. Jennie Garth and Ann Gillespie return in front of the camera and original series star Jason Priestley returns as well, but as the director of this new episode. I recently spoke with Stroup, who portrays Erin Silver, over the phone and here's what she had to say about the new series.
So how did you first get involved with this new series to start with?
Jessica Stroup: I remember sitting down, it was pilot season and there were tons of scripts out and I wanted to find something that was interesting and cool and different. I saw this script and I thought, 'No way are they going to make a new of Beverly Hills, 90210. That's never going to happen. There's no way.' So I read it and I originally went out for Annie, because the Silver role was written completely different and it was not my vibe at all. They were looking, very specifically, for certain types of people to fill these roles. Well, they ended up re-writing it and changing everything around and Silver turned into this quirky, eccentric, sort of don't-mess-with punk chick and I was like, 'Get me back in there. I need this role. I will book it.' I went in and (series creators) Gabe (Sachs) and Jeff (Judah) were in the room and it felt like a spark, like they knew, for some reason. They kind of talked me through what they wanted to see and wanted to make sure we were on the same page and it's been magic ever since.
So, for people who might not have been tuning in this year, what are some of the similarities and differences between the original series and this new one?
Jessica Stroup: Well, I mean we are a completely new cast. I'm kind of the link that ties in the old show because I'm Erin Silver. So, as far as our season has been, we kind of start out introducing the family, the Wilson family, into Beverly Hills, which is very similar, obviously, to the original. They are a very moralistic, level-headed family, so when they are thrust into this L.A. lifestyle, Rob Estes, who plays the dad, he comes from here but he has moved away to Kansas to get away from it and, when he comes back in it, it's kind of welcoming all new challenges and new problems. In that sense, it's very much like the original. Ours is different though because we're much more contemporary. We're dealing with problems that kids today have now and that is a scary thing because kids nowadays, obviously, it's no-holds-barred. I'm scared to have children someday. We're trying to tackle it in the most realistic way.
So you moved out to L.A. when you were 17, so was there any of that mentality, when you first moved here, that you brought to your character, Erin Silver?
Jessica Stroup: For sure (Laughs). The thing is, I moved tons. I was in like nine schools by ninth grade, so I moved a ton of times when I was younger. As hard as that was growing up, it helped me in so many ways being an actress, and being Erin Silver, because every year I was constantly changing who I was. I could be someone new. I wouldn't care if people judged me or didn't like me because, in the end, I knew I was probably going to move in a few months anyway. I always kind of played around with it, but I always loved meeting people though. I was always out and about making as many new friends as I could. Moving out to L.A. when I was 17, again, the moving when I was younger helped me with that because I was so naïve and I wanted to try it and I had this goal. I got a scholarship to go to Georgia, so I at least had one fallback plan. I think being put into this lifestyle, there are so many ways you can go down the wrong path. What I kind of have with Silver, in similarities, is that we're kind of old souls, both of us. I mean, at 18 I was paying all my bills without my parents helping me and that's kind of how Silver has to deal with things. She has an alcoholic father, she was always the adult in the relationship and trying to take care of things. She learned quick how to take care of herself and what the real world is all about, that's why she doesn't really care about the glamour of Beverly Hills. It's one reason I really respect and I really love playing her. It's been a great year.
So how have you enjoyed working with this new cast like Lori Loughlin, Rob Estes, AnnaLynne McCord, Shenae Grimes and others. How have you guys really gelled in this first season?
Jessica Stroup: I met Shenae in the final casting, the screen test, and she was going for Annie and I was going for Silver. That afternoon, it was high anxiety, everyone wondering if they were going to get this, we instantly bonded. I gave her my number. I knew that she was from Canada and I'm like, 'If you need a ride home tonight, I'll give you a ride home. If you wanna hang out tonight, or need somewhere to go, let me know.' We were immediately best friends, so when we both got the part, it was just the greatest day because we knew it was just going to be the start of this amazing whirlwind of a year. We shot in Malibu this model shoot and that was the first day that we had all met each other, we were already shooting promos for the season, which is bizarre. It's completely unlike how it usually works. I guess a few days after the model shoot, we were booked for up-fronts and it's been a blast hanging out with these people, these guys and girls. It's been one of the most influential years of my entire life that will shape the rest of my future and to have these truly amazing people that I can call my best friends, I'm forever grateful.
On this upcoming episode on Tuesday, you work with Jennie Garth and also with Jason Priestley who directed and, on a future episode, you have Tori Spelling come back. How has it been to work with these original cast members?
Jessica Stroup: It's been so fun. Jason, oh my God, I cannot praise him enough. He came in and he had such a strong vision of what he wanted the episode to look like. This upcoming episode is one of the biggest of the season and to have him at the reins was exciting because this was his baby. I knew it wasn't something he was going to screw around with. He was going to go in there with strong opinions and strong ideas and he had many amazing ideas about where he wanted to go with certain scenes and how he wanted us to play them out. It turned out really good and I just completely trusted him and knew that whatever he is going to shoot is going to end up looking great. I actually got to film one of my favorite shots of all time. I actually haven't seen the episode yet (Laughs), but it reminded me of Trainspotting because the camera, they placed it on the ground and it was facing upwards and it was shooting all the way down the tunnel and I ran and got to jump over the camera and sprint down the whole tunnel. I just hope it looks as cool as I thought it will. Then Tori and Jennie and Shannon (Doherty), everyone, I'm daily just surprised that they have such amazing support for us. They want the show to be great, because this is also their baby. Their all grown up and Jennie has her kids and Shannon is just being hilarious. The fact that they can come back in to these new kids revamping their show is just so supportive. It's been amazing.
In this next episode it seems that we get to hear what's been troubling you for awhile. So are there any teasers you can drop for this episode or maybe the handful of other episodes left this season?
Jessica Stroup: Yeah. Well, it picks up immediately where it left off, in Ryan Matthews' (played by Ryan Eggold) apartment. I am not a happy camper (Laughs). Basically, there is going to be some serious manipulation, but that's going to be after Ryan kind of takes over the scene and there may or may not be a fight. Basically, Silver escapes his manipulation and the whole episode is how everybody in the rest of the cast and how they're dealing with it, whether they're helping or whatever they're doing. It's a big ensemble piece and the main story and the main point of it is they're basically searching for me. I end up every which way, I go in a million different directions and going fast in those directions. So, finally, when I hit a wall, I just crumble and where it goes from there, in the rest of the season, is Silver trying to pick up the rest of the pieces and trying to figure out how to make herself O.K. and whole again. I think by the end of the season, when prom comes around, she's made many different transformations, but there's going to be some beautiful, funny moments in it as well. I had a lot of fun shooting what they were going through.
The second season was picked up pretty early on, so when are you guys going back to work on the second season?
Jessica Stroup: We just wrapped up about a week ago, so right now (Laughs)... I'm still like, 'Wait a minute. When is my call for tomorrow?' We are supposed to be filming again in the middle of June or so, I think that's when we will be back. Until then, I'm just going to see if there's a project or two that I can work on and, if not, I'll just hang out by the beach (Laughs).
Jessica Stroup: Yeah. The Informers was an amazing cast. I was just privileged just to have a tiny part in that. It's based off a Brett Easton Ellis novel and it's all about the drugs, and the sex and the rock and roll and the 80s and you follow these kids through the worse times and the best times of their lives. In the end, if you've read the book, it doesn't necessarily make you feel like the happiest person in the world, but it's a charmed feeling. It has an all-star cast and I had a great time with that. We shot that in Uruguay, of all places. And Homecoming I get to play opposite of Mischa Barton and Matt Long. They're wonderful. We shot that in Pittsburgh and it was in the dead of wintertime, like December and January, so it was so cold! I'm from the South, but I'm a pretty tough girl. The fact that I was outside lying in snow, at one point, with my arms tied behind me and my feet bound and I was gagged, with a wife-beater and a tiny little pair of pajama pants on, lying in the snow... that was probably the coldest I've ever been in my entire life (Laughs). It's based on Misery with Kathy Bates and Mischa is a little bit over the edge on her part (Laughs). She gets to do some crazy things and capture me and there's tons of fun to be had right there because we were a good sparring couple.
Sounds like my high school, back in the day.
Jessica Stroup: (Laughs)
So you said you're looking for another project for your hiatus, so is there anything specific you're looking for?
Jessica Stroup: There's a project that's still up in the air that is not going yet, but it's a project that's in New York and would be so perfect because, what I'm really looking for is something that challenges me but that shows a different side of me, something that I've never played before, and this one definitely pushes the boundaries. This would be a movie that mommy and daddy would definitely not be able to watch it (Laughs). It would be taking it to the extreme for me. It's an ensemble piece and I'm really wanting to do something like that for my hiatus.
So, finally, what would you like to say to the fans of the show who have supported the new series for the whole season?
Jessica Stroup: Fans, you guys are awesome. I could not have made it through this whirlwind of a year without your support and I really hope you're going to stick around for next year because it's only going to get better.
Awesome. Well, that's about all I have for you. Thanks so much for your time, Jessica.
Jessica Stroup: Absolutely. Thank you.
You can see Jessica Stroup as Erin Silver and the rest of this new cast of 90210 on Tuesday nights at 9 PM on the CW, and be sure to tune in tomorrow at 9 for guest-star appearances from original series cast members Jennie Garth and Ann Gillespie with the episode being directed by another original series cast member, Jason Priestley.