Luke Perry wears boxer briefs, hates people who don't stop at stop signs and still chooses Kelly over Brenda. But the Beverly Hills 90210 star has come a long way from his days as brooding bad boy Dylan McKay — after all, the show wrapped six years ago. The 40-year-old has since had gigs playing Harry in When Harry Met Sally on the London stage and was cast as an inmate in the HBO prison-drama Oz. In his newest show, NBC's Windfall, he plays Peter Schaefer — a seriously average guy who comes into some seriously big money when he and 19 friends win the lottery. We talked with former teenage heartthrob (we won't lie — we loved him, too!) about his new character, what he'd do with $20 million, how he feels about bearing his behind and more…
Tell us about your character in Windfall.
Oh man, he's your average guy. He literally is. He is middle of the road — average height, average weight, average hair, two kids, one wife, median-range house, has your average factory job. That's the thing I love about him. Nothing special, nothing distinguishing in any way.
Where do you draw your inspiration to play him?
I grew up in Ohio, and I'm very familiar with the whole blue-collar mentality. Just the quiet guy who has a job and goes to work and comes home, and that's what life's about.
So, here's the obvious question: What would you do if you won the lottery?
Man, you know, it's so funny because some days I have a list of things I would buy — you know, an elephant, a helicopter, a bulldozer… and the list goes on. And other days I actually have to sit down and think about it. I really do. There are not a lot of material things that I want.
Are you one of those guys who plays the lottery ever week?
I am now! Yeah, when you start thinking about it, you can actually put in two dollars and come away with two or three hundred million, which is kind of cool. I buy them every day now. Yes. Hi, my name is Luke, and I play the lottery.
When I was in London for a few months, I saw you when in When Harry Met Sally.
[Laughs.] You have me at a distinct disadvantage then. I've never seen you onstage.
Not only did I see you onstage, but I saw your butt, too. [Editor's note: Luke had a nude scene in the play.]
You snuck that in on me! You know, I take it with me wherever I go. It follows me. Um, so I uh, it was there, and it snuck up behind me, and you, you saw it. Yes, I know the scene of which you speak.
Did you have to do any butt exercises for that?
Well, you know, my dressing room was on the fourth floor, so it was sort of the logistical StairMaster, we'll call it. And on matinee days, boy I had a tight ass because it was twice up and down those stairs.
So, I have to ask, do you ever talk to the old 90210 gang?
Why do you have to ask? Yeah, I do, or I write them a note or an email, and I'm like, "Look, could you spare $5 grand?" No, we talk sometimes. You can't spend that much time with those people and not still know them. I talk to Jason [Priestley] and Brian [Green] and Ian [Ziering] and Jen [Garth].
Do you watch any reality TV?
I watched the original Survivor. Rudy was cool. He made me laugh. I watch Survivorman on Discovery Channel. They drop a guy off in an extreme environment and he has to stay there for a week with nothing. They don't give him any food. He just has to live there. I think that's pretty cool.
Is that something you'd ever do?
Yeah, I'd give it a shot. I don't know if I could do it for a week, and I definitely couldn't do it in the snow. Man, they dropped his ass off in the Arctic Circle one time. I would pretty much die within four hours. Someplace tropical with a bar nearby... That'd be okay. I could live for a week.
I think we all could live some place tropical for a week with a bar.
That's because you're from Wisconsin. It snows a lot there. Are you a good snowmobiler? Did you ever appear in the girls of the Big 10 Playboy issue?... [Editor's note: Playboy has an annual issue featuring college girls from Big 10 football schools.] I always love that issue.
Uh, right. So you've played the bad boy, now you're playing the good guy; you've done the prisoner. What character would you really love to play?
The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Anthony Hopkins was the best hunchback I've ever seen. He did it for HBO in 1982, and it was brilliant. I thought to myself, that's the kind of stuff I want to play.
What is something people don't about you?
Remember when they did the movie Wild Wild West? It should have been me. I should have been James West. I would've been so much better. I never say that — actors aren't supposed to say that about stuff, but you [asked]. Will [Smith, who played the role] has got enough stuff going on. He could've kicked that one my way. I loved that show growing up. Dun, da dun, dun...