Sydney Morning Herald June 10th 2016

It's a tough year for Shannen Doherty.

In February, the 45-year-old star of 1990s monster-hit TV shows Beverly Hills, 90210 and Charmed revealed in an emotional appearance on The Dr Oz Show that she is battling breast cancer.

On the phone ahead of her appearance at pop culture gathering Supanova, she says she doesn't want to talk about where she's currently at with treatment but is grateful for all the kind words from well-wishers.

"The love and the prayers have been absolutely wonderful and supportive and so encouraging. I really do appreciate it," she says.

She's in Sydney with her Charmed co-star Holly Marie Combs, who played Piper to her Prue, as part of the "Power of Three" witches alongside Alyssa Milano.

"Holly and I, we really stick together and we do a few of these [events]," Doherty says. "We have so much fun because it's a way to meet the people who have supported your career and your show. They're wonderful, they're just a way to connect with people."

Doherty began acting at age 10 but it was joining Beverly Hills, 90210 in 1990 that rocketed her into stratospheric levels of fame. The Aaron Spelling production featuring high-school students in the world's sexiest postcode proved to be the teen phenomenon of the 1990s.

Even now, gossip remains rife about liaisons and rivalries among the cast. Just last year a Lifetime TV movie, The Unauthorised Beverly Hills, 90120 Story, brought back to the fore much of the dirt surrounding the show.

Why does Doherty think people are still so fascinated by the program, despite the fact it ended 16 years ago?

"I have no idea, I can't figure it out," she says. "I understood why the show was so big [at the time], that it was the genius of Fox putting on new episodes during the summer when everything else was reruns at the time. It was that, plus the fact that the show was really the first that catered to that age group, that parents could sit down with their kids and it would open up a discussion about teenage topics that may have been hard for a parent to broach with their teenager prior to the show.

"Now this, many years later, I'm like, 'Wow, it's amazing'."

As bitchy Brenda Walsh, Doherty incurred the wrath of the show's fans over her stuck-up on-screen character and rumoured brattish behaviour on the set.

"I wish I was a tougher person," she says of the stories at that time. "I might be one of the most sensitive people you'll ever meet. Sure, it hurt, but I think finally there was a point when I just looked at it all and said, 'Whatever'."

In the pre-Twitter 1990s, celebrities weren't afforded a right of reply.

"It got pretty crazy. You're being written about on a regular basis and 98 per cent of it is complete lies, so it's very hard to read about yourself and not have a reaction. And back then, you didn't have social media, so it's not like I could go on my Twitter account and refute the story, and say, 'Wow, this is a lie, I wasn't even there, this is what really happened'.

"I could not put my story out there, so I think it was a difficult time but honestly I was so blessed to have had the opportunity to be on a show like 90210 and experience that level of fame and fandom. How can you complain about any of the bad when the good outweighs everything?"

Of the rumoured on-set spats, she says she finds it exasperating that people think everyone who works in entertainment should be best friends.

"Look, nobody gets along with everybody," she says. "It's impossible and I've always said this. In any normal office job, nobody goes to work every single day and gets along with Jack, Harry, Ted, Barbara... You don't get along with everybody. There's always a person or two or three that you're like 'Yeuch, they're so not my type of person'."

Future projects are on hold at the moment while she concentrates on her health although she's still lined up for MallBrats, the sequel to Kevin Smith's 1995 comedy Mallrats, when it happens. She says she feels blessed to have racked up a huge body of work since a young age and is proud of "surviving" in the acting world.

"I feel very blessed because from an early age I was able to do some things that I liked and was fun for me and that I happened to actually excel at. I excelled at it because I cared about it and the older I got, the more I understood what I was doing and the more I understood the impact I was having on other people and the world and that my characters would reach people.

"That's incredibly rewarding, those are the moments in life where you go, 'Wow, this is my purpose, this is why I'm here'."