For Jennie Garth, joining the Tubi movie Bad Influence was an easy decision.
“There aren’t a lot of scripts that sort of speak to me. This was one [that did], because it was about a relationship with mother and daughter, and I know a lot about that,” the Beverly Hills, 90210 alum tells Yahoo Entertainment. “I have three daughters of my own, and so it was an interesting role to explore.”
Garth is mom to Luca, 24; Lola, 19; and 15-year-old Fiona, whose dad is Garth’s actor ex-husband Peter Facinelli. (She’s been married to Dave Abrams since 2015, minus a break from 2017 to 2019.)
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In her new thriller, a tamer version of The Craft, with a dash of Single White Female, Garth plays single mom Joan, who brings her daughter, Lily — portrayed by actress Devin Cecchetto, who actually appeared briefly in the 2020 movie The Craft: Legacy — to a new town in the middle of her senior year of high school. Lily’s dad has died recently, and Joan has landed a job teaching English at a local college. She’s hoping for a fresh start, but not the kind of shakeup her family ends up experiencing, after Lily becomes enmeshed in a cult, even getting branded like members of NXIVM. Lily is suddenly not talking to her mom as much as she used to and, when she does, she sounds like someone else.
“Any kind of relationship with a mother and a daughter, it’s so easy for me to tap into my own … well of love and fear for my own daughters’ lives and their health and their safety and their well being and their happiness. It’s all in there, just because I have so much experience with it, and I think that that makes my ability to tell these stories a lot richer.”
It’s not lost on Garth that her most famous character was also lured into a cult, among many terrible situations. (Seriously, 90210‘s Kelly Taylor survived a fire, a cocaine addiction, a stalker, and a drive-by shooting, just for starters.)
“It’s interesting now at this phase in my career to be playing the mom of the girl that’s going through the things that Kelly once went through on the original show,” she says. “I definitely notice that … when I’m doing these projects. But it’s fun for me, because it’s territory that I haven’t really … gone into yet as an actress, so it’s kind of a new phase, I guess, of my career. One that maybe people will be like, ‘Ew, I don’t want to be the mom,’ but I love it.”
Early on in Bad Influence, Garth’s onscreen daughter is so sweet to her mother that she shows her the book that she’s reading and giggles when telling her that she saw a cute boy. It’s not at all the kind of thing that would have taken place between Kelly Taylor and her mother, Jackie.
“There’s something to be said about that relationship [in the movie], you know, and I don’t think that it’s that inaccurate, just because I’ve had times with my own daughters where one of us or both of us are going through something, and it really does draw us so much closer and creates a really, really strong bond that people kind of are like, ‘Wait, why are you so close with your kid?’ But it does happen,” Garth says. “That’s why it’s so hard, I think, for Joan over the course of the movie to see her daughter sort of separating from her … that quickly. And it makes her frightened of what is happening, and that’s really natural.”
In addition to being a mom, Garth is also a friend who’s especially close to one of her former 90210 co-stars, Tori Spelling. The two began working together ahead of the show’s premiere in 1990, when they were still teenagers. They’ve teamed up multiple times since then, like when they co-produced and co-starred in 90210 reboot BH90210 in 2019 and to host their current podcast, 90210MG. They’re working on a line of products for QVC — exactly what kind is still under wraps — to be released next year. Most importantly, they’re still very good friends.
“There aren’t a lot of people that you go back that far with, you know. Some people are lucky enough to have friends that they had in high school. I don’t have any friends from real-life high school, but Tori and I have remained close,” Garth says. “We went through something really impactful at such a young age together, that sort of put us in the same sort of boat together, and we’re more like sisters, you know? Like I would do anything for her, she would do anything for me. And it’s that kind of friendship that, I think, lasts the longest in life, where also we don’t have to see each other every week, we don’t have to talk every day, it’s just kind of in who we are now to be, you know, close. And it’s a great bond to have.”
Garth appreciates that she and Spelling make each other laugh and are “on the same page in a lot of areas.” She adds, “We just kinda speak the same language.”
She wants everyone to know what that kind of true friendship feels like.
“I hope other people get to have that experience,” she says, “of having somebody that they know has their back and trusts them and that they can really love fully without worrying about it.”
Bad Influence is available Friday on Tubi.
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