On tonight's episode of My Name is Earl, Jason Priestley makes a guest appearance, the latest in a string of high-profile guest-stars that have been on the show, including David Arquette, Seth Green, Jenna Elfman and that dude from Children of the Corn. We asked Jason about his guest stint as Earl's cousin, then snuck in the requisite 90210 questions, since he's directing an upcoming episode of the show, and also because he was a dreamboat on the original who made sideburns cool again.
Tell us a little bit about this character that you're playing on Earl this week.
Jason Priestley: Well I play Earl's cousin, who is a wildly successful professional backpack model. You know, J. Crew, L.L. Bean... you've seen him in all the top outdoor catalogs. And Earl and his cousin have a very combative relationship -- they've always been in competition with each other, ever since they were little kids, and that competition has never subsided as they grew up. And watching two grown men competing like that is obviously very, very funny. And my character and Jaime Pressly's character Joy had a sexual liaison at a certain point in time. And once Earl finds out about that, that really sends him off. So the comedic sparks really start to fly at that point in time. Jason [Lee] is such a funny guy, and Earl is such a funny character, it was a real pleasure for me to go over there and work with him, and just sort of be in the presence of comedic greatness.
Jason rocks a pretty serious moustache on the show -- was there ever any talk of giving you something a little bit more than the rugged stubble you seem to sport throughout the episode?
Jason Priestley: No, I showed up with actually a pretty thick beard, and we decided to just go with sort of a shaped stubble, because, you know, as a professional backpack model we felt that it was just very comical. You know, like that very Miami Vice sort of look? You know what I mean? Shaped stubble is always very funny, I think. Yeah, but Jason's moustache -- it's really taken on a life of its own at this point in time, hasn't it?
You're directing an upcoming episode of the new 90210. Did you do that yet?
Jason Priestley: No, I'm directing the fourth of five episodes of Secret Life of the American Teenager right now. And in January I go over to direct 90210.
What was the decision behind going back to direct the episode, but saying that you wouldn't go on the show as Brandon?
Jason Priestley: You know, there really wasn't anything interesting for me to do as Brandon on that show. I just didn't feel that there was anything interesting to it. And yet, as a director and as the director who directed the most episodes of the original show, I felt that I just had more to offer as a director over there. And apparently, so did they.
Especially now that Kelly's son is not Brandon's.
Jason Priestley: Yes, exactly. And I'm not the baby daddy, how about that?
Were you surprised when you heard that?
Jason Priestley: No. No, not at all actually. I mean, I think that Brandon was the kind of character that, you know, if that was Brandon's child, I think that Brandon probably would've stuck around.
Do you know anything about the episode you're directing? There are rumors that Brenda is dying of cancer.
Jason Priestley: Oh my goodness. No, they haven't given me anything yet. I don't even know if the episode is written yet. This is all news to me, but this is fantastic. But I love all those rumors. That's very -- that's juicy stuff. That's fun. That's going to be awesome.
Now that you've done the directing thing, is there anything that could bring you back to TV full time?
Jason Priestley: Absolutely. I mean, since 90210 I've done three or four other television series that have gone for one or two seasons and just haven't gotten over the hump. You know, I really enjoy doing episodic television. I enjoy the pace of the work and I enjoy going to work every day with the same group of people for long periods of time. I think there's a lot of great work being done on television these days. It's really just a matter of finding the right show that strikes a chord with an audience and can stay on the air for a long period of time. I'm certainly looking for that material all the time.
Do you think it's possibly because people still see you as Brandon Walsh?
Jason Priestley: No. No, I don't think so. I mean, I think that I've played enough characters in enough high-profile movies and high-profile television series that people don't see me simply as Brandon Walsh anymore at this point in time. I think I've worked hard enough and been successful enough in other arenas that people don't see me as that anymore.
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