When he’s away for too long, Jason Priestley misses his home and native land.
These days, a lot of people living in the United States are looking wistfully toward that land, whether they are Canadian or not. But, ever the poster boy for time-honoured Canadian decorum, the Vancouver-born actor is too polite to discuss President Trump with a perfect stranger. Instead, he weaves through gentle jokes about his adopted country’s administration before settling more comfortably into an all-too-Canadian conversation about hockey, Tim Hortons, and what pulls at his heartstrings when he’s not here.
“When I’m in LA, I miss the kinds of things you just can’t get in America,” he says. “The politeness of strangers, appropriate restaurant portion sizes, and an open road. You are never alone with your thoughts on a road in the States. I miss that feeling of freedom.”
Priestley has long maintained a secure hold on being both a beloved member of Canadian culture, and an iconic fixture of ’90s American television, having starred for 10 years on Beverly Hills, 90210 as Brandon Walsh, the man who nearly single-handedly made sideburns cool for an entire generation. So Priestley knows all about the (usually) playful push-pull that can happen between the neighbouring countries.
“Beverly Hills is on Hulu, which you can’t actually get in Canada,” he says with a shake of his head. “So, I guess they’ve claimed it as their own. I think it reminds them of a time when American television was a little more conservative than it is now. If only they knew that we were chanting ‘Donna Martin masturbates’ instead of ‘graduates.’ It was hilarious.”
Priestley’s latest television outing is the show Private Eyes, adapted from the book The Code by G.B. Joyce. Priestley plays a former pro NHLer-turned-private investigator — and if that’s not Canadian enough, the show is both shot and set in Toronto. “Setting the show here was perfect. We couldn’t shoot anywhere else and call it the city, that’s a huge waste of an opportunity,” he says. “We actually try to maximize getting as much Toronto in every scene set outside as possible. It’s an amazing city and want to showcase every single thing it has to offer, which is a lot.”
Take that, America.