Robert answers fans' questions
- In your bio you said that for some time you had lived with the woman who had two
children. But do you have your own children? How do you feel yourself in a role
of a father? (Ira Nadrova, Russia)
- This is a sweet question. I probably would have been quite a natural Father and sadly i
have no children of my own as I have never been married. I truly love the spontaneity and
craziness of kids and had great,great fun playing with a girlfriend's little boy and girl in
the Canyon a few years back. This was a very special time for me and I will write a blog
title on it this week though it is quite private for me. i will include pictures as well, or
Of course with all the playing comes the responsibility of helping to raise children and
be there for them thru thick and thin, this I learned this last time around and will do
better at the next time, no? my best to you Ira, blessings, Robert
- What can you say about "bloopers" on the set? (Heni, Sweden)
- I beleive there is a blooper tape out there that is circulating but I don't know where.
The very first scene on the show that I taped was at the end of the day at Buzz's place
where I was clearing a table that Mason and Harley were dining at and they kept cutting in the booth and I didn't understand why. I was singing "Born in the U.S.A. a Bruce Springsteen song under my breath but it was audible and we couldn't do that without having to pay royalties on the Song itself which was a huge hit in America that year. I did not understand this and kept singing the song until someone from the Production booth came out on the floor and told me why. I could have gotten fired that first day. I think that little,little intro scene of Pearl did 5 takes before I got what was going on.
Also alot of the stuff in the hospital rescuing Kelly was blooper material since we all were
breaking up and laughing on camera when I was doing my imitiations of Nixon and some of the other American Presidents. Louise Sorel was a funny actress and had her share but which ones it is too long to recall. They got Mason breaking up and laughing on camera in serious scenes in fact all of us had this problem at times because the setups and situations could be so outlandish on this soap opera. When this is written and a scene is very dramatic nervous tension can overwhelm an actor and his response is to start laughing. Its kind of akin to letting off steam but then they have to cut and start over and the more you do it the harder it is to keep a straight face.
A. and I would break one another up quite alot. A. used to gigle to himself off camera after a scene and say "god Bobby, I've been acting now for 20 years and I have never had this kind of trouble breaking character on camera,!" You see quite naturally it was a very funny combination having a serious staight and all business detective hanging out with an unshaven Damon Runyan type who speaks funny and wears a rats tail with a sea shell hanging down at the end of it. The writers knew they had created comedy gold with that I think and went with it and it was very unusual to see this sort of thing on a soap opera.
- What was it like to work with Lane Davies and Nancy Lee Grahn? Any funny behind the scenes stories? (Tracy)
- Well they were two sharp actors as I remember. Lane always seemed so damn unflappable that that in itself could be funny if you were performing with him. I have alot of nervous energy that I try and harness when I act but Lane seemed sometimes to be just coasting along like he was out on the river fishing for the afternoon on a slow, hot day in Louisiana somewhere. The Southern tempo is that way naturally I believe. As I recall Lane had a very good memory for what was written. I could have sworn one time that while doing a scene with him I noticed his eyes scanning left to right down my face as if he was reading the text he had memorized in the morning off of it. I don't know.
Nancy was a very insistent and determined actress as I remember. She could be hard on herself. We all were on the show because there is so little time to produce creative work and that leads to pressure. I'm sure she thought that I had just been beamed down from Pluto or something. My acting choices were decidedly off beat on that particular show to say the least. But sometimes when you work with somebody and don't think its going anywhere you can be very surprised to see later on that in the editing room its actually working. Its long ago and its hard to remember. All my stuff with Nancy was early on when I had just started. Oh I remember now. There was the definite potential for a "Moonlighting" type relationship between Nancy and I and we actually talked about this.
You know the serious professional woman teaming with a street level rake, wise-guy. And this energy was apparent as I recall in some of the scenes but the writers dropped that storyline before any real heat could develop. And too, I could have been more sexual in my attitude towards her. i chose not to be because I was afraid of falling into a traditional stolid soap opera trap. I needn't have been but at the time I did not know this.
- What is your approach to playing love scenes? How did you feel acting such scenes? (Ira Nadrova, Russia)
- That's a good question. Its important to be simple and honest, look into the actresses eyes and let yourself go. The feeling will arise if the connection is made. If not it probably won't and the actors who try then and fake it are not so successful. In real life when you are very focused on listening to what the other person is saying your act very naturally from that space and spontaneously. It is a kind of chemical reaction. Too many actors try to determine the result of the scene and where they wish to go with it before the scene even begins. This I call intellectual acting and it is never very moving and always predictable. Also its never exciting to do for the actor because he or she is never allowing himself to surrender to what his partner is doing and just then react to it. In surrender there is great,great power. All the best love scenes in cinema involve surrender and the vulnerability of the characters. When they are vulnerable they tell us that it is o.k. for us to watch them kissing and cooing and whatever. At that time we then can totally identify with them, as if we ourselves are doing the scene. This becomes the essence of real acting and the audience leaves the theatre literally feeling transformed and often feeling as if they are the character or characters they just were watching.
Try this at home. Simply observe and listen intently to whoever you are having conversation with. Don't think about what to say next or how to fill any silence that might arise. Simply listen and then subtely notice the feelings and thoughts that then arise. They may be more 'organic' and more authentic now because they are playing off only what the other person is doing. Understand?
Acting can be very therapeutic if done this way. Hope this answers your question.
- Why did you leave Santa Barbara?
- I left 'Santa Barbara' in the Spring of 1988 and as I recall it was for artistic reasons. I did love the cast and crew but I had grown somewhat tired of how a new head writer was approaching the character of Pearl and I was also wanting to pursue acting onstage and in film. I have a background in performing and touring in Shakespeare and classic theatre so the rigors of being on my own again were not new to me and the challenges of doing Pearl were behind me.
- Who do you remember the best among co-actors?
- My best friends on the show were A. Martinez and Robin Penn Wright. We clowned around a great deal and often would joke so much in rehearsal it was a wonder that we were able to do some of the work with straight faces. Unfortunately I did not stay in touch with them which is traditionally what happens when shows break up and cast members go their separate ways. I love the family aspect of acting and the instant bonding but it generally is temporary. Robin came to see some theatre I did in the 90s and brought her husband as well. As I remember he almost put me in his first movie,"The Indian Runner" but my audition for him was quite bad and the role went to a more deserving actor I'm sure. A. Martinez is just hands down one of the sweetest human beings you could possibly know. He is generous,kind and very supportive and was always positive and complimentary, most especially during the early time on the show when I was very unsure of what it was I was doing. I will never forget that and have tried since to do the same for young actors that I encounter in my process. I don't think I really appreciated how good he was on the show until years later when someone showed me some old tapes. Simple,still and strong. Thats not easy to do you know but you have to make it look easy.
- Which scenes did you find the most difficult to act? Which scenes do you remember as the best?
- I cannot say I remember all the special scenes that I may have performed in. You must keep in mind that they were all challenging technically because there is so little time on a soap to learn and memorize your lines. This makes soap unlike any other medium. Of course I found ways to work around that and would write key words on my hands, on walls on the sets, on set furniture and on the floor. This gave me a certain reality in movement at times since I was anyway what you call a kinesthetic actor and it could free me up to indulge the behavior in a scene as opposed to just getting thru a scene but I wouldn't recommend it to others and it is ultimately more efficient,traditional and considerate simply to memorize the line itself. By the way I loved the scene many years past now where I say goodbye to Robin's character. She had just been cast in a big movie and they wrote a farewell scene for us that was sweet and poignant. In real life she was like a kid sister to me you know. All the funny scenes with A. I enjoyed. At the time there was very little comedy or levity on soaps and one of my intentions was to change that and I beleive we succeeded though it was very difficult. It is considerably more difficult to do comedy than drama in acting and so with very little rehearsal I think,all things considered, that we accomplished that with some panache. Writing about all this now brings back old feelings long dead...
- Which films did play in after leaving SB?
- Unfortunately I never did any film really, just a couple of minor and unmentionable roles. One has to be quite lucky, have good timing in their career and have very high- powered representation. Those are the requisites. It is my beleif and I do not say this with any bitterness, that the finest actors in America are laying by the roadside under the weeds and undiscovered. They tend to be stage actors who work all the time but are not at the right place,right time. There are definitely some greatly talented actors working in film.
- Who is your favourite actor / actress?
- A few that come to mind are the late,great Heath Ledger and of course my all time favorite hands down, Marlon Brando, may he rest in peace. I love Vanessa Redgrave and I also think that the little girl mentioned above, Robin Penn Wright is fantastically talented and I hope she is given alot more to do in the future.