Philidelphia CityPaper October 19th–26th 1995

In person Doherty is a pint-sized waify brunette beauty, seemingly without the bitchingly boisterous mouth that the former Beverly Hills 90210 star became famed for in the tabloids. Still you could sense something boiling underneath the 10 a.m. calm exterior.

Starring in Mallrats, a mediocre Porky's-like farce by Kevin Smith (who made his debut as a director with Clerks), Doherty plays Rene, a boyfriend jilter and a rapid-fire talker in a New Jersey mall setting.

In the production notes, Doherty says, "When I read the script, I just adored it because it's really an actor's piece. It's very juicy stuff for an actor; very challenging."

After seeing the John-Hughes-with-a-potty-mouth film, I knew the woman had to be at least somewhat deluded.

Were you a mallrat as a kid?

No, no, not at all.

Was that because you were working?

Partly because I was working, partly because, what is the appeal of hanging out in a mall? An enclosed space with circulated air... I'd much rather be outdoors.

What attracted you to Mallrats?

The dialogue... Kevin [director Kevin Smith] was generally the draw. I saw Clerks. I thought Clerks was great, really funny. Then when I read the script for Mallrats it was just so witty and clever. My character is really brash and strong and funny. She had so many elements to her that I couldn't resist. And when I met Kevin he was so cute and adorable, like the nicest guy in the world. I just had to be a part of it.

Didn't you say something about how you had to audition for this?

Yeah [she laughs]. I did have to audition for it. This is my second audition in five years so it was really, really nerve-wracking for me. When I went in for my audition I thought it would be like 15 minutes. You go in, say hi. But instead my audition was like 45 minutes long because for 25 minutes I wouldn't shut up.

But the part that I was originally meant for wasn't the part that I wanted.

What was the other part?

Brandi, the part played by Claire Fulani.

What was wrong with Brandi?

There was nothing wrong with Brandi, but I wanted Rene because the dialogue was so fast and witty... Her issues are something that every woman goes through — the boyfriend who's not paying attention to his girlfriend, denies her sexually and mentally and everything else. You just get fed up and you have to teach them a lesson.

What was your favorite line to deliver?

God, can I say this? Rene is about to dump her boyfriend Brodie and he has absolutely no idea. He asks her what she does in the bathroom for so long and she says, "I sit there and cry because I have nothing better to do than fuck you." That's probably one of the most classic put-downs.

Kevin Smith said an actress like you comes in with a lot of baggage regarding the stories that have circulated about you. Are you self-conscious about that?

I'm self-conscious about it 24 hours a day. That's something that lives with you for a long time until people give you a chance to prove differently. Kevin gave me that opportunity. I'm not saying that 100 percent I've been the perfect angel and didn't deserve any of it. But I would say 80 percent of it I didn't.

Do you feel like you've been blacklisted from television?

Absolutely not. I got offered like every single television series when I got off 90210.

Would you like to work in a show like Central Park West, for example?

Darren Starr called me about that and asked me if I would do it and I adore Darren. He's a genius. He really knows what our generation wants. Any other time I would have jumped at the chance. However, coming off of one series and going into another is something I'm not interested in.

On my way here I saw a car with a bumpersticker that said, "I Hate Brenda." Do you think people want you to be the character you play?

Doesn't everybody? Isn't it more interesting to go to the supermarket, pick up a story and read about somebody horrible than somebody good? Doesn't it make you feel better about your life? People live vicariously through other people on TV. It doesn't really bother me. The fact that I elicit so much emotion from the public is great. That is my job whether you hate me or you love me. I just never want to be in the middle.

What did you think of the gag in the movie, where someone mistakes you for Brenda?

Having some humor about yourself is a great thing. A wonderful ability.

Do you live in Los Angeles.

Yeah, unfortunately.

Do you go out much anymore?

Not at all... When I was going out and supposedly doing this club-hopping scene — I did that for about six months — they made it sound like I was out there every single night. How could I be? I had to be at work at 6 in the morning and came home at 7 o'clock at night. Usually I'd go out with Tori Spelling. So I don't know how I got to be the only one with the bad track record. I'm mellow now, I love staying home, I love my dog, I have a boyfriend [director Rob Weiss], I grew up.

Do you keep in touch with anybody from 90210?

I talk to Luke [Perry] on the phone, Jason's left messages through people we know.

Growing up, were you more like the character you played on Little Houseon the Prairie or Heathers?

Not Heathers [she laughs]. Probably much more Little House. I came from a very, very strict family. My mother is Southern Baptist. My grandparents are in the church, Sunday, Wednesday, Friday, it's really crazy. My moral upbringing was really solid.

Were your grandparents praying for you when you were in the tabloids?

They would call my parents and say, "Now Rosie, what is goin' on with Shannen, we've got to help her. She's got to come back to Tennessee and get in touch with the Lord."

Didn't you do a sex movie about a year ago? The movie's out on video in France.

I bet it is. I've drawn a complete blank. Yes I did a movie, I can't remember the title and it was a complete nightmare and all I can say is the nudity is definitely not me.

You had a body double.

There wasn't supposed to be a body double. Those are not my breasts. I would have sued but I wanted as little attention drawn to it as possible, so the lawsuit was dropped.

Have you learned anything about men over the years that you could share with us?

Take your time. You never know what he might be like.

Have you done a lot of thinking in the bathroom?

In the bathroom?

Like in the movie!

Oh no.

Will you ever get married again? [She was briefly married to Ashley Hamilton, son of George.]