“I was in the middle of battling [breast] cancer,” the actress — who is featured in the current issue of EW — says of learning that there was going to be a series based on the cult classic, which centered on three best friends named Heather (including Doherty’s Heather Duke) and a couple (Winona Ryder and Christian Slater) who want them dead.
“I had been going through chemo and had no hair when my [team] told me, ‘They’re remaking Heathers and they wanna know if you’d be interested,'” she recalls. “I said, ‘No. I don’t know how you could ever, ever remake it.'” But then she read the script. “I was blown away by how good it was, and how [new Heathers creator Jason A. Micallef] managed to be respectful to the original but also bring his own spin to it,” says Doherty. “I had to do it.“
She can’t reveal much about her role on the series, which was initially scheduled to debut in March but, because of the show’s subject matter, was first postponed and then canceled after the high school mass shooting in Parkland, Fla. (Paramount Network ultimately decided to put it back on its schedule, though Micallef says they’ve combined episodes 9 and 10 into one installment after the original final episode was deemed “too controversial for U.S. audiences.”) But Doherty, 47, says that filming the reboot “was great, particularly at that point in my life,” and describes her character as “weak in some ways and strong in others, but really is just no-holds-barred and says whatever she wants. She’s a Heather.”
This new Heathers has been updated for the social media age with a body-positive Heather (Melanie Field), a male Heather (Brendan Scannell), and a Heather of color (Jasmine Mathews), but Doherty believes it remains true to the spirit of the film.
“Heathers was way ahead of its time,” she says. “All of the characters were kind of jerks. Now that’s the norm, but back then we didn’t have a lot of big characters with flaws. [Original Heathers writer] Dan Waters did it with a wink, wink, nudge, nudge; Jason brings that to the new Heathers.”
And Doherty doesn’t want to stop tapping into her past once Heathers is done with its first season (which will be available to stream on Paramount Network’s streaming services on Oct. 22 before airing on the network over a five-day period beginning Oct. 25).
“Kevin [Smith] sent me the script for [a second] Mallrats a while ago,” she says of a possible sequel to their 1995 film. “I love Kevin and would be a part of anything that he’s involved in.” Not that she’s down to be in every new version of her past projects: “Somebody asked me, ‘Would you do the Charmed reboot?’ And I was like, ‘Oh my God, I can’t be the reboot queen!'”
To see Doherty in the pages of Entertainment Weekly, pick up the new Fantastic Beasts issue on stands now, or buy it here. Don’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.