May 05, 1997 12:00 PM

>Luke Perry


FOR ONE EARLY, JARRING MOMENT IN NBC’s Robin Cook’s ‘Invasion’ (see review), you might think the invading party isn’t an extraterrestrial virus but visitors from Beverly Hills, 90210. After all, the movie’s protagonist, Luke Perry (once 90210’s brooding Dylan McKay), contends with the killer bug alongside Rebecca Gayheart (who played his wife on 90210). Though the pairing was just “a coincidence,” says Perry, 30, “it was so nice to work with someone I already knew and trusted.” Gayheart agrees: “We had good chemistry together.”

For Perry, distancing himself from Dylan since leaving 90210 two seasons ago hasn’t been easy. His would-be bronco ride to stardom—1994’s rodeo flick 8 Seconds—lasted about that long in theaters. Since then, Perry, who lives in L.A. with wife Minnie Sharp, 27, a former paralegal, has not been swamped with leading-man offers. “If the movie industry gave him a chance,’ they’d be pleasantly surprised,” says Gayheart. “He’s charming as hell.”

Last seen as an L.A. cop in Riot, a recent Showtime movie, Perry next plays an archeological assistant in The Fifth Element, a Bruce Willis sci-fi thriller opening May 9. But one place Perry won’t turn up is back on 90210. Asked if he stays in touch with the cast, he offers a lukewarm reply: “Let me ask you this. Do you still keep in touch with your high school friends?”

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