Don’t count Shannen Doherty out just yet.
The former “Beverly Hills, 90210” star is featured in the new issue of ELLE magazine, and in it she discusses her battle with stage 4 breast cancer, the cancelled “90210” reboot, and more.
Recalling learning of her diagnosis, Doherty says, “The way [the doctor] presented everything to everyone was matter-of-fact.
“I was like, ‘Okay, do I have good karma? Do I have bad karma? Why would I have bad karma?’ I started taking stock of my life and the things I’d done, and the things I hadn’t done. How I was with people.”
The day she received her more recent metastatic cancer diagnosis, she says, “At the end of that, what I came out with was, I have good karma. It may not seem like it but I’ve been a really good human being.”
Thinking about what the world will be like without her in it, the 49-year-old says, “I haven’t sat down to write letters. That’s something I need to do. There are things I need to say to my mom. I want my husband to know what he’s meant to me.”
Adding that she has thought about making video messages for her family to watch after she passes away, she says, “Whenever it comes time for me to do it, it feels so final. It feels like you’re signing off, and I’m not signing off. I feel like I’m a very, very healthy human being. It’s hard to wrap up your affairs when you feel like you’re going to live another 10 or 15 years.”
She also makes clear she isn’t done yet, with a number of projects still in her future, including a new TV series.
“It’s like anybody with Stage IV faces this sort of thing, where others want to put you out to pasture,” Doherty says. “I’m not ready for pasture. I’ve got a lot of life in me.”
Looking back on her reputation as a troublemaker during her “90210” years, Doherty says, “At 19 years old, diplomacy is not something that you understand.
“Basically, treating me like I’m a dog and I need to just follow their commands. Telling a 19-year-old who’s intelligent, who was raised to not be that way at all, you don’t go, ‘Oh, how can I massage this?’ Instead, I was like, ‘Where’s my sledgehammer?’ But the more I used the sledgehammer to break that down, the worse it got for me.”
Doherty found, though, that the diagnosis helped to strip away some of the resentment she still held from her younger years.
“When I got cancer the first time, it was this really beautiful thing because it finally stripped all of that away,” she says. “Those walls were, like, eliminated. That sort of childhood resentment—19 to me is childhood—was gone.”
Talking about the now-cancelled “BH90210” reboot series, which transformed the classic teen drama into a scripted-reality series, the actress admits she had been opposed to the idea at the outset.
“I had already done two ‘90210’s by that point. I didn’t really see it as something that was going to help, but I did feel that it could stir up stuff from when I was 19 years old,” she says.
“Things happen and you go, ‘All right, this is what I’m supposed to be doing at this moment.’ I knew that once I signed up for the show, the bulls**t would start all over again. And, in fact, it did.”
The reboot fell apart when the showrunner quit, along with several writers, before shooting, and then rumours circulated that Doherty was acting out.
“I addressed it immediately,” the actress says.
On Instagram, she wrote, “I refuse to be cast in the same villain role because ‘journalists’ lack imagination.… I am a woman with my own story,” adding that the rumours were false and writing, “I promise, you don’t know me.”
Despite the show’s cancellation and all the drama surrounding it, Doherty says she’s glad that she signed on for the reboot: “I’m very grateful I did it. It was nice seeing everyone again from a new perspective.”