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Luke Perry Talks 'Goodnight for Justice,' Jason Priestley and Being a History Buff

by Jean Bentley, posted Jan 28th 2011 4:00PM
Luke Perry, Goodnight for JusticeAs John Goodnight, a stalwart judge in the 19th-century Wyoming Territory, Luke Perry's latest role is quite different from the California surfer we know and love. But it's just as personal to Perry, who worked on developing 'Goodnight for Justice' and even brought in his old 'Beverly Hills, 90210' buddy Jason Priestley to direct.

When TV Squad caught up with Perry a few days ago while he was making the press rounds for the Hallmark Movie Channel film, which premieres tomorrow night, he told us why he was so passionate about the project. (He loves history. And justice.)

Read on for Perry's thoughts on why making a period drama is a nice change of pace, knowing how to handle a gun, and why he watches the Disney Channel so much.

TV Squad: You had a hand in developing the movie. How did that come about?
Luke Perry: It wasn't something anybody else was developing, it was an idea that interested me, and I get sick of waiting on people. I've realized over the last few years if I'm going to get to do the things I want to do, I'm gonna have to make them happen. Nobody else is going to do it.

What interested you about the project?
You know, I believe in justice, and I believe that it's for everybody, not just those who can afford it. And it used to be very simple. There was one guy, one judge you could plead your case to that you had to convince. Seldom is that the case today. There's a lot of lawyers, lot of stuff involved, lot of out-of-court settlements and all that. I knew it wasn't always like that and I was interested in another, simpler time.

Are you a history buff?
I am. I love history. I read about a lot of history. Andrew Jackson, before he was president of our country, he was a circuit judge in South Carolina and Tennessee. As I was studying Jackson and I came to learn more about that period of time in his life, I started to become fascinated with it.

Luke Perry, Goodnight for JusticeThis was supposed to be the first part of a trilogy. Is that still happening?
I sure hope so. That's always sort of how I've seen the stories, and I'd like to get to tell the other two. For me, the thing I love about doing any movie or any TV show is the character that I get to play. When you get a new one every movie, sometimes that's great and you really love to see how many different ones you get to do in a row, and sometimes you just get one that you want to hang on to. And I created one that I wanted to hang on to.

Are you interested in doing any other period pieces?
Oh yeah, sure, I would love to do Shakespeare and stuff. The Age of Enlightenment. The '30s is an interesting time. A lot of good history out there. And more every day!

Is doing a period piece different than one that takes place in the present?
Yeah, we never had to do an insert of a computer screen, a tight shot of a cell phone, a cut back and forth between two people on a cell phone. That just isn't coming up in a Western and I love that. Because that's what movies are today -- they reach down and there's a funny text or they see a funny email. That's a way to tell the story, but it's not my favorite way.

The character you play is a really moral guy who believes in equality. What drew you to him, and did you have a hand in shaping it?
I thought it was great to show the balance in terms of -- he's a guy's guy, he likes women, he likes to have a drink, the brother will play cards -- you can still be that guy and be a fair guy and be an honest guy. It doesn't detract from your masculinity in any way to be nice to people and to be honest. A lot of times in film they just draw the lines too clean -- he's just a good guy and that's all he is. I think this guy certainly is a good guy, but he's just a regular guy who gets asked to do an extraordinary thing. That's what I thought was interesting.

The shooting, that was another thing. Gun violence and violence in general, I don't like it, I don't think it's good. But back in that period, that's how a lot of it was settled, unfortunately. That's historically accurate. ... He's not a gun fighter, he's not a guy that goes around shooting guys all the time, but it is part of his job and he does it.

Did you have to learn how to handle the gun properly?
Nooooo, I've been practicing that stuff since I was a little kid.

How were the costumes?
It was hot! They were fantastic clothes because they were handmade, one-of-a-kind garments. All my wardrobe was hand sewn. Back then, first impressions were the way you treated people. If people saw that you weren't wearing nice clothes, they wouldn't treat you nice. So everyone tried to dress their best all the time, and that requires layers of stuff! I would've just much rather been comfortable, but nope, they wanted to look the part -- and they really did. It was a cravat, and a pin, and a tie, and a button, and a vest, and a sash and all that stuff. It was a lot to put on every day.

Luke Perry, Jason Priestley, Goodnight for JusticeWhat was it like being directed by Jason Priestley?
What was great is that I've been directed by Jason a lot, but it's always been '90210,' so the amount of direction and where they're going to direct you to go with the scenes is pretty obvious. Here we tried different stuff. I think Jason will tell you he was challenged a lot directorially. And that's what I wanted to do. I wanted to make it hard for him. I wanted to make it a challenge because when you do that with Jason, he rises to it. Brother's a hockey player, he's a competitor, he's a race-car driver, he's got a real competitive thing in him.

This project was very personal, so it must've been nice to work with someone you know very well.
For sure. I didn't want to get up there and all of a sudden be disappointed in [it]. I worked so hard on the script and the casting and all the other things that if I got up there and then had a director who was a moron -- which has happened to me before -- then I'd be in trouble.

Do you have any interest in directing?
I was going to direct that picture, but we had to make it in Canada. I would like to direct at some point, but I'm not driven to do it. I get offers and sometimes I consider them but I haven't jumped behind the camera in a few years. I might get back there.

Are there any TV shows you'd like to guest star on?
There's one -- my friend is the lead. The show's called 'Lights Out' on FX. I would do that because my boy Holt is on there. There are other shows I've been watching lately that I like. I want to do something comedic. I want to do something funny. You know, the kids usually get to pick what's on TV in my house.

Oh yeah? Are you watching Disney Channel and stuff like that?
A lot of that. A lot of 'The Suite Life,' went through the 'Hannah Montana' thing. Now my son's a heavy metal guitarist so it's a lot of 'The Metal Show' and stuff like that.

Would you be interested in going back to a series full time?
If it was the right one, and a good situation, I would.

Is there an elusive project you've always wanted to do but never got a chance?
Yeah, the Howard Hughes one got by me. Leo scored that one. But I would like to play Andrew Jackson. I think he's a very misunderstood, very flawed, interesting man. Did some horrible things as president, did some great things as president. I find that fascinating. He had a lot going on that a lot of people don't know about.


'Goodnight for Justice' airs Saturday, Jan. 29 at 8PM ET on the Hallmark Movie Channel. Perry and director Jason Priestley will be participating in a live Facebook chat at 7PM ET before the movie airs.

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