Jason Priestley is three times deep in baby mama drama, with a packed schedule that includes My Name is Earl, Secret Life of the American Teenager, and 90210.
He drops in on Earl this Thursday to play Earl's cousin Blake, a backpack model with whom Earl has had an ongoing rivalry. Blake comes to town to attend a party Earl throws for Joy (Jaime Pressly), the mother of Earl's — okay, so they aren't Earl's — children.
"Watching two grown men competing like that obviously is very, very funny," Priestley said in a conference call with reporters Tuesday. "My character and Jaime Pressly's character had a sexual liaison at a certain point in time... Once Earl finds out about that, it really sends him off."
Priestley is also in the midst of directing his fourth of five episodes of Secret Life, set to return Jan. 5. He promises that while Ben and Amy get married, it doesn't necessarily mean Amy has broken things off completely with Ricky, the father of her baby. Not that Priestley gave too much away.
"There's a — ohhh man. Gotta pretty tight-lipped about all this Secret Life stuff," he said. "Ben and Amy go through with their wedding but then obviously.... Amy and Ricky try to... Amy and Ricky sort of... This is tough, I'm gonna get in trouble if I tell you too much."
Is there early marital trouble?
"Things don't go as planned," Priestley said. "Let me put it to you that way."
In January, of course, he's back to his Beverly Hills roots to direct an episode of that series' spin-on, 90210, where he'll direct former cast mate Jennie Garth.
Priestley says he still talks "quite regularly" with Garth, whose character, Kelly, was once linked to his, Brandon. That fueled initial speculation that Brandon was the father of Kelly's son, Sammy, in the new series, though the dad turned out to be Dylan. That was bad news for Sammy, because Luke Perry, who played Dylan, has stressed that he won't be back.
Priestley insists that despite his return to directing, he won't be back in front of the camera either.
"I just think there really wasn't anything interesting for me to do as Brandon on that show," he says.
Would playing Sammy's dad have been interesting?
"No, that was their choice, you know? That's their deal, and that's totally cool," he said. "I think that ultimately [Dylan being the dad] made more sense given Kelly and Dylan, given their relationship and given the fact of ... who Brandon was and sort of how Brandon and Kelly left it when Brandon left town.
Priestley's character on Earl was originally going to be named Brandon, but the writers decided against it, he said.
"They thought it was just going to be a little too cute," he said.
Which of Priestley's latest projects are you most interested in?