‘90210’s’ Shenae Grimes on the finale, Luke Perry and whether Liam’s boat floats

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Shooting on Season 2 of “90210” has wrapped, but Shenae Grimes (who plays Annie) isn’t resting. She’s working on finding a hospital to partner with on a nonprofit program she founded called Project Lemonade. The program aims to enrich the lives of seriously ill children and teens by pairing them with an artist peer.

Project Lemonade grew out of Grimes’ personal photography project, in which she took photos of her best friend, Laura Worthington, as she was fighting Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer that affects the lymphatic system, part of the immune system.


In March, Grimes had her first showing of those photos at a silent auction benefiting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and she would like to do many more.

“I’m hoping to pair off with a hospital in L.A.,” Grimes, 20, tells us, “and start this sort of creative, spiritual endeavor for pediatric cancer patients, and hopefully it will become an annual event.”

Grimes spoke to us not only about Project Lemonade but also about which of the original “Beverly Hills, 90210” cast members she’d love to guest-star on the show, Rob Estes’ departure and what to expect from “90210’s” Season 2 finale.

Warning: Spoiler alert!
I recently read that you’d like Luke Perry to guest-star on the show?
It’s funny when you walk down a carpet, how many questions are asked and the select things people take from an interview. I was already done walking the red carpet and somebody just randomly asked me a million questions about the old cast. And I was like, ‘This is so retro. No, no one’s coming back.’ And they asked, ‘Who do you want to come back?’ And I said, ‘I always said Luke Perry is always welcome. Ha, ha, ha.’ And then that was everywhere the next day. So, yes, I’m a huge Dylan McKay fan. He’s so dreamy and so ‘James Dean-y’. I would love to meet him [laughs].

The original cast members have basically said they’re not returning. How do you feel about that?
Coming from being a huge ‘90210’ fan, I was over the moon to have them all on-set last year. Oh, that was Season 1, so almost two years now. So crazy. I was really excited also to just get their views on the whole Hollywood situation, having been thrust into the craziness that we were about to be. So, it’s kind of comfortable and reassuring to be speaking with people who have gone through it. And that was a big help to us. But, I think now that we’re going into our third season, it’s important that we have our own identity and that our stories can carry themselves.

What was the best advice you received from one of the original cast members?
Shannen [Doherty] was probably the one I got a chance to kind of speak candidly with. She’s so amazing. She’s one of the warmest, sweetest people I’ve met in Hollywood. She was really excited to take us all under her wing, and she always encouraged us to stay true to who we are and have a strong sense of identity and who you are in this town. And don’t let people sort of sway you and pull you and push you. And stay strong, and you’ll get through all the mayhem that we ended up going through Season 1. So, it was the best advice I think I got all around.

Much of that goes against her public reputation, so you didn’t find any of that to be true?
None of it at all. Honestly, people have said the exact same things about me. I think that kind of goes hand-in-hand with being a popular facet in Hollywood for whatever blip of time you are. I think people automatically like to say the negative things. It’s just more fun that way, I guess. But, yeah, it was far from true.

Your character has had some heavy story lines this season, so congratulations on getting through those.
Thank you! I appreciate that. I was excited about all the challenging story lines this season. It was a nice pace. It was really intense. I don’t know if you saw this, but if you haven’t you should YouTube it, because it’s funny. I did a Canadian MTV episode and they did a movie montage of clips of me crying or about to cry all season long. And I was hysterically laughing. It was so funny. I was really crying in every scene this season. It is a great challenge for an actor, you know.

OK, so let’s just take the story lines one by one. At the end of last season, your character hits Jasper’s uncle with her car and kills him. Are you happy with the way that gets resolved in the upcoming finale?
I was really happy with the way our show runner, Rebecca [Sinclair], chose to handle the situation. She told me in the beginning of the season that this would remain the underlying story of the entire season. So, while everyone else is going through their momentary incidents and dramas, this will kind of be lingering with me the entire season, which was kind of daunting. But, she really played up the subtlety. But, we do finally get closure for Annie, or at least we think we do. Of course, no show will end in that pretty little package. So there are many surprises that you’ll see. I’m always extremely grateful to have her producing amazing material for me to work off of.

We hear that the resolution would include other characters. Can you give me any hints as to who gets involved?
I wish I could tell you, but that’s what makes it so good. Yeah, we’ve gotten the hint that it may involve [Teddy, played by Trevor Donovan], because of the whole license plate thing at the very beginning of the season, which I’m sure most people have forgotten about by now. It does play kind of a key factor in the resolution of it all or the lack thereof. But, it certainly involves more people and hopefully takes the onus off of Annie’s shoulders, the weight off of her. So, I’ll let you use your imagination.

So, you’ve had some really moving and scary scenes with Jasper [played by Zach Sherman] this season. In a recent interview, he said he didn’t know very much about where his character was going. How did you handle working with that story line as it was unveiled?
It was definitely intense. It was such a bizarre relationship, not something I’ve been in myself. I think we’ve all had our share of bad boyfriends or had friends with bad boyfriends, but this situation was so unique. So that was where the challenge came in. At the end of the day, they were just kind of die-hard for each other for a while. And they both got sucked into this thing, as we all do at one point or another. It really evolves organically, actually, as preposterous as the story line may seem. That’s why I think it kind of rolled along as fluidly as it did, even though we didn’t know where the relationship was going or where he was going, but you could kind of just sense it all the way through. There was this kind of tension that was carried out through our entire relationship. We knew it was building toward some huge explosion, and it did, certainly. That was a jaw dropper.

Can we expect Jasper to return next season?
I have no idea, and I don’t think Zach does either. It’s kind of one of those things. There’s no real indication as to where the character will go. There is some of what you may think is closure at the end of the finale involving him, so you will see him back [in the finale]. He will be back around for a little bit and, of course, involved with Annie. But, I’m not sure about next season. I’m very curious to see what they write.

You played such a loner for so much of this season. How does it feel to be back with the girls again?
So refreshing. You have no idea. I used to see my cast every day, every single day. In Season 1, I was right in the middle, friends with everybody, and then to go to the other extreme. I just remember seeing them and saying, ‘Hi, guys. How are you? I haven’t seen you in like a month.’ [laughs] It’s ridiculous, because we all worked so much. So, when they’re not there, they’re sleeping or doing their own thing and running their errands and I’m at work, or vice versa. So, it’s a lot of fun to be back with them.

There’s seems to be a threat that you’ll be on the outs with Naomi again. You have a story line with Annie getting close to Liam [Matt Lanter], which we don’t think Naomi is going to like.
[Laughs] I know. The third time’s the charm, right? I was a little wary myself when I saw that story kind of developing. I was very curious to see where that was all going. I was like, ‘We can’t be fighting over a guy again. Man, like last time I killed somebody and it didn’t end well. I can’t fight with Naomi again over a guy.’ But, the story doesn’t really evolve the way you think it will. They’re kind of misleading you a bit. The relationship and the closeness that Annie and Liam are forming is much more than just any physical attraction. So, nothing again where it’s resolved or summed up at the end of this season. I am very curious to see where they go with it next season. I don’t think it will be the demise of Naomi and Annie again.

We hear Annie and Liam are testing out the boat he was building in the finale. That thing actually floats?
Yeah. It was hysterical, actually. I’m glad you brought that up [laughs]. Me and Matt, I’ll never forget it, we walked on-set for that final scene on the final episode to go sailing on the boat. And we walked up to this huge, I mean it must have been probably 30 feet long, like huge, like massive yacht-like sailboat. We were like, ‘This boy built this boat in that shed? What are you talking about?’ It’s beautiful, the boat they ended up getting. It doesn’t look very much like the boat you’ve seen Liam working on in the shed. I don’t think a home shed could hold something this massive. But, it’s a beautiful boat and it was a lot of fun sailing around on it. It’s always fun to do cool shots where our cameraman is on another boat in the water. It’s awesome. It’s what movie and TV making is all about. Yeah, but it’s not the same boat. I’m sorry to burst everyone’s bubble, but I’m being real [laughs]. You’ll see it for yourself in the finale. It’s pretty obvious.

Rob Estes, who plays Annie’s father, Harry, is leaving the show. How will that be resolved in the finale, and do you know what that does to the family dynamics next season?
Again, our writers have kind of left us in the dark. I think they were all in the dark when we wrapped. They’re all in writing sessions now, so I’m sure they’ve figured out the story line. We have no idea where it kind of left off and picks up. In the episode that just aired, you saw it all come to a head. Annie knows what’s going on. Dixon knows what’s going on. And we’ve confronted the parents about it. So, in the finale, I don’t think you see anything really wrap up too clearly. Dixon and the trouble he has gotten himself into will play a role with Rob’s situation. I don’t know that Rob will be coming back at all next season. So, I’m not sure we’ll be actually wrapping it up in a scene. It may just be, maybe, dialoguing about him leaving or something like that. I have no idea, but I am curious to see. I adore Rob, so I’ was heartbroken to find out that he was leaving. But, on to bigger and better for him. I know he’ll do great things and have more time to hang with his adorable kids.

Were you shocked when you heard he was going to leave?

I was definitely surprised. I didn’t really expect it. You never expect that. I didn’t expect that for any reason. I think he was at peace with the situation, and it was not a negative parting. He seems cool, calm and collected about it, and that’s all I care about it. I’m just happy he’s happy.

We have to talk about your former role as Darcy on “Degrassi: The Next Generation.” “Girl Fight” was one of the most fun episodes this season on ‘90210.’ Who do you think would win in a girl fight between Annie and Darcy?
Darcy, hands down. Darcy, you don’t expect it. Annie, she is like really, really sweet. I would never want to see Annie and Naomi in a fight. It would break my heart, because Naomi would just tear her to pieces. I think she’s just timid like that. I don’t think Annie could ever hit someone. I think if Darcy, if threatened and put into a bad situation, could definitely hold her own. I would be scared for Annie [laughs].
The Season 2 finale of “90210” airs at 8 p.m. Tuesday on the CW.

— Jethro Nededog

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Photos, from top: Shenae Grimes with her best friend, Laura Worthington, at the silent auction benefiting St. Jude Research Hospital. Credit: Getty Images; Laura Worthington in a picture from Project Lemonade. Credit: Shenae Grimes; Zach Sherman as Jasper and Grimes. Credit: Patrick Wymore / The CW; Grimes and Matt Lanter as Liam on “90210.” Credit: Michael Desmond / The CW