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Jason Priestley: Wild Cards

Is it basically an actor’s dream, getting to play this quirky con man — who is lovable but also has a sense of danger to him?

[Laughs] Yeah, I’m kind of a bad guy. Definitely. I think there were a lot of opportunities for comedy, and to bring joy to people. So, that was a big driving factor for me . . . The character of George was super-fun. I loved who he was. I loved the connection with his daughter. And I thought it would be a fun thing to tackle, because I’ve never really played a character like that.

Wild Cards on CBC and KTLA. Pictured: Jason Priestley.
Courtesy of CBC/©2023 Ed Araquel

George sort of weaves in and out of this first season, largely because he’s behind bars. What can we expect from him as the show progresses?

We’d have to check with [series creator] Michael Konyves, but I think the plan is for George to get out of prison at a certain point, probably next season — and then he can just be out there in the world. That’s gonna be fun.

You’ve also gotten into directing in a big way lately. How did that start? When did you catch the bug?

I was 23 when I directed my first episode of Beverly Hills, 90210. It was something that I knew I wanted to start exploring. When I was in high school, I was already directing theatre and doing short films and stuff like that. So for me, once that show was established and became a hit, that’s when I started hammering on Aaron [Spelling, executive producer] to let me direct one — and it was not as common back then for actors on TV shows to start directing the shows. But somehow, I talked him into it and he handed me the keys to his Ferrari. All he said to me was, “Don’t f*** this up!” And I said, “I won’t, Aaron. I won’t. It’s gonna be great, man.”

Is this the ideal career balance for you — getting to move freely between acting and directing?

It is, because they’re very different jobs. I find that being able to do both just keeps everything fresh for me. Directing is such an all-encompassing position and there are so many challenges you have to overcome every day, I don’t think I’d ever get tired of doing that. But if I was just acting all the time, I don’t know how much longer I’d be able to do it — for no other reason than the focus that is required to act. That’s why I think, like, Jack Nicholson retired. These guys, when they get a little older, they don’t want to do it anymore. All of the memorization you have to do every night, all of the intense focus it takes while you’re doing it — it can be daunting. 

Now that you’ve got some distance from the Earth-shaking phenomenon that was Beverly Hills, 90210, how do you contextualize that experience in your life? Does it even feel real?

No, it doesn’t. It feels like that was a whole other lifetime ago; it feels like it happened to another dude. The show has been off the air for 23 years now, but when I do look back at it, I’ve nothing but fond memories for that time, I’ve nothing but love and admiration for all my old co-stars and co-workers. We did something that was special, and it doesn’t happen that often that a show can be that successful all around the globe . . . And with this ’90s renaissance that’s been happening, people are watching the show again. I think a lot of people during COVID rewatched all 300 episodes — because there was nothing else to do [laughs].

The season finale of Wild Cards airs Wednesday, March 20 on KTLA


Hailing from North Van, this hometown heartthrob got his break at age 21, playing Brandon Walsh on teen soap Beverly Hills, 90210 from 1990-2000. Since then, he’s remained a fixture in entertainment on both sides of the border, with notable star turns in dark comedy Call Me Fitz and detective romp Private Eyes, as well as the delightfully meta reboot BH90210. He’s also become a prolific TV director on shows like Saving Hope, Rookie Blue and Van Helsing.


CBC’s Vancouver-set crime dramedy Wild Cards casts Priestley as George, the imprisoned father of con artist turned sleuth Max Mitchell (Vanessa Morgan). Alas, George imparted all the tricks of the con trade to his little girl — along with a fair bit of trauma.

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