Dustin Milligan by Patrick Ecclesine/The CW Dustin Milligan by Patrick Ecclesine/The CW

Canadian actor Dustin Milligan, who plays star athlete Ethan Ward in the CW's 90210 remake (premieres Tuesday, Sept. 2, 8 pm/ET), is a pretty chill dude. Despite the Rocky-Mountain-high expectations for the series' success, Milligan is, thus far, enjoying the ride, telling us about his character's upcoming love triangle, what it takes to look like an athlete on TV and what role, if any, he played in the Jennie Garth-Shannen Doherty détente. - Nina Hämmerling Smith

TVGuide.com: Tell us about your character.
Dustin Milligan:
Ethan Ward is the star athlete at West Beverly High School. Lacrosse is his game. It's the new football; football is so cliché. Which is ironic, because lacrosse is, like, the national sport of Canada.

TVGuide.com: And you are Canadian...
Milligan:
Yes.

TVGuide.com: So it's a natural fit for you.
Milligan:
Um, well, I have never played lacrosse. I did a show a few years ago [the CW's Runaway] where I was the captain of the lacrosse team, but I only play it on TV.

TVGuide.com: Do you consider yourself athletic?
Milligan:
I don't do a lot of organized sports: I skateboard, surf, snowboard and I go to the gym. I just have to look like an athlete, I don't have to actually be one.

TVGuide.com: As in the original 90210, there is a fairly prominent love triangle, this time among you, Naomi and Annie.
Milligan:
It's more like a love octagon! I wish. In the first episode, Naomi and Ethan are dating, and there are some sparks between Annie and Ethan, at least in these first few episodes.

TVGuide.com: Were you a fan of Beverly Hills, 90210?
Milligan:
You know, I wasn't. I was pretty young. My sister watched it so I would catch an episode every now and then. I've seen some reruns at 4 in the morning. Of course, I watched a few after I got the job. The sideburns and haircuts! [Laughs]

TVGuide.com: Do you feel pressure to live up to the original?
Milligan:
I don't know if the actors feel that kind of pressure - I think it's more on the producers and writers. I don't really feel responsible for the entire final product of the show. We're all just trying to do the best for our characters, to deliver a rich and realistic point of view to them. I think there's a lot of hype, a lot of exposure, you could look at it as pressure, right now I'm just looking at it as a great opportunity to have my work examined by perhaps the widest audience I've ever had.

TVGuide.com: OK, so then how do you top the original?
Milligan:
It's funny. People are always talking about how you can't top the original because it was so good. At the time, it was groundbreaking, one of the first American shows to show teen angst, a teen soap. Gossip Girl, Dawson's Creek - they all essentially came from 90210. I'd say that the original 90210 had more of a family vibe, it was a little lighter. I think with [Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah, of Freaks and Geeks fame] at the helm, this version brings even more realism and some authentic, contemporary details. I think it's going to push some boundaries in different areas than the original show did. Hopefully, it's going to be groundbreaking, just in a different way.

TVGuide.com: Have you worked with Jennie Garth at all?
Milligan:
No, but we chat every now and then. She's really nice. It's always a relief when famous people are nice.

TVGuide.com: Is it important to have the original cast on the new show?
Milligan:
I think there's no doubt that the reason for bringing back the show is to bring back original fans as well as create new ones. So I definitely think it would be awesome to have as many of them back as possible for the old, er, original fans. I'm really looking forward to working with whoever is coming back from the original.

TVGuide.com: Back up, did you say "old fans"?
Milligan:
I keep saying "old fans" in every interview and I just feel bad.

TVGuide.com: I guess compared to you they are old...
Milligan:
I just turned 23 and I am feeling old.

TVGuide.com: How is that possible?
Milligan:
I feel it. You're officially not even close to being a teenager anymore, you're almost in your mid-20s, which is when it's pretty much over. In your mid-20s, you might as well be 45. If you're 45, it's all free-wheeling from there, you've got nothing to lose. [Pause] Naw, I'm just being a jerk.

TVGuide.com: There is so much hype around this show — how are you all dealing with it?
Milligan:
Yes, well, it's pure magic. I don't know; it's a lot of fun, I'm actually surprised at how well everyone is getting along and how smoothly things are running at this point. [Pause. Whispers] Oh my God, Shannen Doherty just walked by!

TVGuide.com: Wow! Have you worked with her yet?
Milligan:
No, I have not. I don't really know if we're ever going to have any scenes together actually.

TVGuide.com: Is this her first day on the set?
Milligan:
Yes, this is Day 1. And she's in the trailer next to mine.

TVGuide.com: You'll have to go over and hit her up for some stories from the glory days.
Milligan:
Yeah, I don't know. I've heard a few stories, so I don't really know. But we'll just leave it there... I definitely want to shake her hand or something.