Looking back at ET's first interview with Perry in 1991, it's unsurprising that he would go on to enjoy decades of onscreen roles and virtually universal praise among those he worked with. At that time, just in his mid-twenties, Perry already possessed the humility and perspective of someone years beyond his age.
"It's not me they're coming out to see, it's this character I play," Perry told ET regarding the growing fandom he and his 90210 co-stars were experiencing as the show turned into a phenomenon. "I'm very flattered that it's gone over as well as it has."
Still, acclaim can be fleeting, and that is something that was not lost on Perry, who just a year prior, found himself in a very different stage in his life.
"It's real good to know that, yeah, a year ago I was shoveling asphalt, and a year from now, I could be doing it again," he explained. "I think it keeps a good perspective on things as long as you remember that."
Perry also shared that he and his castmates -- which included Shannen Doherty, Jason Priestley, Ian Ziering and more -- kept each other in check when it came to appreciating what they had.
"We start slapping each other when somebody gets too big-headed," Perry said. "We made a promise going into this, we said, 'Look, guys, nobody expects that we're gonna do anything other than these 13 episodes. If by some chance, we surprise the world and put out a quality program that people wanna keep watching, let's remember how we got there, and let's remember what makes the show so good.' The show is good because it's an ensemble piece, everybody works and everybody brings something to it."
Sure enough, Beverly Hills, 90210 went on for 10 seasons, becoming one of the defining shows of the 1990s and spawning a franchise that includes Melrose Place, a 2008 continuation series, 90210, and a planned reunion series for summer 2019.Before that legacy was realized, Perry made clear his intention not to squander the opportunity of being given a platform and something to say.
"Like all television series, 902 will come and it will go. There's gonna come a day when they say, 'That's it, that's your last episode,'" he said. "Before that day comes though, we really have to try our best -- we have a hold of such a powerful medium here."
Watch our interview with Perry above. And see below for more of the outpouring of love for the late actor from 90210 and Riverdale families and beyond.