”There’s no other word for it,” Shannen Doherty has decided. ”I was an a– hole.”
Actually, there are lots of other words for it — the one that rhymes with witch got plenty of use back when she was still storming around the 90210 set — but no matter. The point is this: For a time during the early 1990s, Doherty all but owned the A-word, the B-word, and a bunch of others way too unflattering even to dash out in these pages. Her bratty offscreen antics — the petty feuds with 90210 cast mates, the stormy romantic entanglements, the rumors of out-of-control partying and violent outbursts — made her the era’s ultimate poster girl for bad celebrity behavior. Nobody was more fun to read about…or, for that matter, to write about.
Alas, not anymore. At 29, with a hot new show on The WB network — Charmed, in which she plays one of three sisters with supernatural powers (as in rhymes with bitch) — she is no longer the tantrum-throwing, ego-addled A-word of her flaming youth. She’s mellowed. She’s matured. As if secretly replaced by an un-evil twin, she’s suddenly developed shockingly polished people skills, including a newfound ability to be pleasant to reporters.
Lounging poolside at the trendy Avalon Hotel in Beverly Hills — where she’s just finished a grueling three-hour photo shoot during which she didn’t lose her temper once — she actually comes across as rather amiable. Even sort of sweet. ”Don’t write anything mean about me,” she implores, batting her big brown doe eyes. ”Be nice, okay?”
In other words, no cheap shots about her seven-month marriage to Ashley Hamilton (George’s son, whom she wed after only a two-week courtship). No snotty references to that embarrassing restraining order her ex-fiance Dean Factor filed, claiming that she had tried to run him down with her car. Not even a snarky remark about that notorious beer-bottle throwing incident that resulted in Doherty being forced into court-ordered anger-management therapy. No mentioning any of the above — um, starting now. (Obviously, this is going to take some getting used to.)
There are, it turns out, many nice things to say about Doherty. For starters, she makes a very convincing witch.
”I read a lot of books about witchcraft when I first got the role,” she says of her preparation for the part of Charmed‘s Prue, the eldest of the sexy, slip-wearing sibs who use their otherworldly powers to battle evil demons in San Francisco. ”But then I started reading stuff about how to bed down with Satan and have his child, and it kind of freaked me out.” Besides, she adds, ”I’ve already bedded down with Satan a couple of times in my life. I’ve had a lot of practice with that.”
Now in it’s second year, the Thursday-night series, which costars Alyssa Milano and Holly Marie Combs, has clearly cast a spell on The WB’s viewers: It’s already the network’s second-highest-rated drama (after 7th Heaven), with a strong following among teenage girls (”It’s a show about three very strong women who aren’t constantly looking for a man to fulfill their lives,” Doherty explains). It’s also supposedly attracting sizable numbers of older female viewers of the type who enjoy Xena: Warrior Princess.