By Tanesa Whitin
Luke Perry made his way to the 1996 Sundance Film Festival to prove that there is life after the internationally popular Fox television series Beverly Hills 90210.
Perry is working on a transition from playing Dylan McKay on Beverly Hills 90210 to Chris Anderson in the John McNaughton film “Normal Life.”
Perry plays a husband who tries desperately to provide the security for his emotionally, unstable wife played by Ashley Judd. The young couple ends up turning to crime as a means to achieve the American dream.
“One of my big missions here was to never see, in one frame, the guy from 90210, from beginning to end,” Perry said. “I didn’t want to look like him, sound like him, walk like him, or anything.”
“By the time we actually got to rolling film and having the rehearsals and I cut the hair off and grew the mustache, the transformation was made and it was easy to let that guy go,” he said.
Perry left 90210 after completing his sixth season to move on to other projects and grow as an actor. Leaving the show afforded Perry a much needed break from the hectic schedule of carrying a successful television series, he said.
“It’s afforded me the opportunity to not just have to do the script that they put in front of me every week,” Perry said. “I can actually exercise some choice over it and find the people that I’d like to work with. That in itself has been one of the most exciting parts, knowing that there is no mandate to produce. You just read it and if you like it, get in it, and do it.”
Perry started out at the top winning the 1991 Golden Apple Award for Male Discovery of the Year. He landed leading roles in films like “Buffy” and “Eight Seconds” and has yet to play supporting roles in any films to date.
“It was like all of a sudden ‘bang,’ you are the show,” Perry said. “There is an awful lot to be learned from not having to secure the whole picture or burden on you and just being able to come in and play your character and really put all your energies towards to that. I am looking forward to some of that. I think it will be very educational.”
Some say that Perry is at a pivotal point in his career because he is on his own and is no longer under a big television series. His choice in projects now will determine his future.
“I am not worried if it (a project) is the right move or whatever. I want it to be something that I am interested in doing and something that I would want to see,” he said. “I make films simply because of selfish motives because I want to have a great experience, creatively and artistically.”
Perry has a passion for great stories. He said he is interested in playing a diversity of roles.
“I want to make good movies, and whatever I do, I want it to be good,” Perry said. “The great thing about being an actor in today’s day and age is there are so many different options. It really breaks my heart to see a lot of good material not getting done because it is not going to be a super hit; it is not going to be a blockbuster.”
Perry felt coming to Park City to support “Normal Life,” his first project at Sundance, was important.
“I was really scared and nervous,” Perry said. “I wasn’t sure if I wanted to come but at the same time you make a movie, you stand by it. You do what you do the day you shot it and you never back down and I wanted to come and support the picture.”
“It was really important at this stage to take “Normal Life” somewhere where people are not going to jump all over it and bring it someplace like this where audiences tend to be a little more receptive and are looking to understand,” he said.