Speaking with Charmed costar Combs on her new podcast, Doherty opened up about the "competitiveness" between herself and Milano, as well as why she'll "never" read Alyssa's book.
Shannen Doherty is giving some insight into the feud between her and Charmed costar Alyssa Milano.
While it’s no secret the pair had some drama while working together on The WB series — with Doherty reportedly leaving the show after its third season because of tensions between them on set — Doherty opened up about the situation in more detail while speaking with fellow costar Holly Marie Combs on her new podcast, Let’s Be Clear with Shannen Doherty.
During their conversation, Shannen spoke broadly about being part of an ensemble show and how that sometimes can spark issues between costars — citing her time on Beverly Hills, 90210 as well — before getting into specifics about her situation with Milano.
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“I think it was also — 3 women on a show– supposed to, in its own way, be an ensemble, but I was cast first. The show was originally sold to The WB based on me, so obviously that’s gonna be there, that’s just natural,” she explained. “But once those magazine covers started happening and one person is being asked the other one isn’t — and I experienced this on 90210 as well, the cover of Rolling Stone and everyone was super mad at me because I did the cover of Rolling Stone and didn’t request everybody else. It’s the cover of Rolling Stone, I’m not saying no to it.”
“It was happening, the competitiveness was kicking in. I’m not saying with you, I’m saying with Alyssa and myself,” Shannen then said Combs.
“And I, personally, I’ve had the same publicist for I don’t know how long and she could come on the podcast and be like, ‘Shannen never cared about somebody else getting a cover,’ it wasn’t in my wheelhouse. Even though it was supposedly good for my career, we were working so hard, to then go on your weekend and do a photoshoot was kind of a nightmare to begin with,” she continued.
“There was a competitiveness with Alyssa, I heard she talked about it in her book — obviously, I’m never reading her book, because it’s [titled] ‘Sorry Not Sorry,’ it tells me you’re not friggin’ sorry. Why even mention something in that case?” Shannen said, referring to Milano’s 2021 book in which she also opened up about the tension between the pair.
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According to Doherty, the two also had competitiveness when it came to Combs, claiming Milano was “trying to pull you away from me” during the show’s second season. At the time, Combs experienced a medical emergency — revealing earlier this year she had a “rather large tumor in my uterus” removed in 1998 that required surgery.
“I waited 24 hours after your surgery to go and then it wasn’t even easy for me to get in. I was being told I couldn’t even get in. Alyssa and her mom, they were blocking people from seeing you and at the time, you didn’t know,” Doherty claimed, saying that she even received a text from Holly asking if she was even going to visit her.
“I could feel your pain of feeling like I had abandoned you, but I also felt like my anger at the situation of not being allowed to come see you and how her family had swooped in and caused this weird divide between between the two of us that then continued throughout season 2, where I think I cried ever single night of season 2,” Shannen concluded.
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When asked how she felt about that time in their lives, Combs was a bit more diplomatic when it came to all that was happening behind the scenes.
“I think it was pretty obvious, I was raised by teenage parents that didn’t have a big family. So you’re right, when a family swooped in and tried to adopt me, it was very seductive for me,” she recalled. “I also wanted everybody to get along, I wanted the show to be successful. That was part of that.”
“There were no angels, there were no demons, we all had bad days, we all had good days, we all could have behaved better at certain points,” she continued. “But there was a lack of awareness of a bigger, broader picture of just being, like you said, grateful to have a job and be doing something that we liked and to be in a position of power to do something that we liked, was not something that happens easily, or normally or routinely.”
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Earlier in the podcast, Combs said it was “very important” for all three of them to prove themselves with Charmed, as they were all coming off careers as young stars and wanted to be seen as adults now.
“We had that in common in the beginning, we all wanted this to be good and be our foray into being grownup actors and to be taken seriously. That’s a tough jump for kid actors,” she said. “We were so young, surrounded by a team of men, we had something to prove, for sure.”
“It’s work ethic and being grateful,” added Shannen. “I think we were always very grateful, gratefulness does not equate to not having an opinion. You can still be grateful and say, this script is not great, let’s do a polish on it … you can still have an opinion, but be grateful for being there, you just want your opinion valued and heard. And respected. Even if it gets rejected at the end of the day.”
How they felt about speaking out on set is something the pair spoke about at length during the episode, with Doherty saying she would get a talking to from her managers or agents whenever she said something “constructive about trying to improve the show or my character” to the higher-ups on set.
“I remember my attorney or my agent or manager would always get a phone call, like, ‘Shannen needs to stay in her lane, she’s an actress and that’s her job and she can’t tell us how to run a show,'” she recalled, saying she always wondered when things would get more “collaborative” on set as the show went on. Though she does feel the series was ahead of the curve when it came to women having a voice and “rebelling against the patriarchy,” she also didn’t think it was fully “evolving with the times.”
“We were show ponies, for sure,” added Combs, before Doherty recalled feeling as if they had “zero freedom” the first season while detailing some of the “many arguments” they had with producers about their clothing and hair. “They wanted to control very single aspect of us,” Shannen added.
Doherty promised the conversation will continue on the next episode of her podcast.
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In an interview with Entertainment Tonight in 2021 — while promoting her book — Milano reflected on the past on-set “tension” between her and Doherty, and opened up about where the two stood at the time.
“I would say we are cordial,” she claimed. “You know, I could take responsibility for a lot of our tension that we had. I think a lot of our struggle came from feeling that I was in competition rather than it being that sisterhood that the show was so much about. And I have some guilt about my part in that.”
“I have respect for her,” she added. “Great actress, loves her family so much, and I just wish I could’ve felt strong enough in who I was to recognize that [back] then.”
“Charmed” — which ran for eight seasons on the WB from 1998 to 2006 — focused on the three Halliwell sisters, played by Milano, Doherty and Combs. Doherty left the supernatural drama series at the end of Season 3, with her exit reportedly due to tensions with Milano. Following her departure, Rose McGowan joined the cast as their long-lost sister Paige.
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