Happy Hour with Julian Crane, #3
May 24, 2000
Ben Masters of NBC's "Passions" discusses acting and his role as Julian Crane on the hit soap opera.
NBCLive: Welcome to our third Happy Hour with Julian Crane! The theme of tonight's chat is "An Actor's Life for Me." Ask Ben anything and everything about his career, Hollywood, acting, and Passions. In the second half-hour, Ben will be joined by a mystery guest. The first person to guess the mystery guest gets a special Passions prize. And now a word from our lawyers: BORING BUT NECESSARY INFORMATION You agree not to use offensive language or personally attack any other participants or third parties. You are solely responsible for all of your communications, and you agree not to violate or infringe upon the rights of others. NBC and Talk City reserve the right, but are not obligated, to edit or delete any information that it deems to violate these ground rules. NBC and Talk City reserve the right to suspend access to anyone who violates these rules. NBC and Talk City also reserve the right to republish, disseminate and broadcast any materials posted. Thank you. Welcome, Ben!
Ben Masters: Oh, welcome friends. Thanks for coming here this evening, and I'll enjoy answering anything I can.
Just2cheeky: Ben, how has you life changed now that you are a star?
Ben Masters: Oh, I'm not a star! My life has changed in the way that I don't have much spare time working on "Passions" so many hours a day, but I think a star is someone like Tom Cruise, who I think is a star. I'm nothing like that; I'm just a working actor.
Shanfye: Hi Ben.I watched you on "Key Exchange" about a week ago. What is the main differences between being in a movie and being in the soaps?
Ben Masters: I've said this before. Being on a soap is the hardest form of acting there is. You have to make the biggest choices. You get very little help from the directors, because they're mostly trying to direct traffic, and you have to learn an hour' s script every day. With a movie, you have the luxury of maybe doing three or four pages of script a day. It takes much longer between camera angles in a film, so you have more time to sit around eating bagels and cheese sandwiches.
Diamond: HOW DO YOU LIKE PLAYING JULIAN CRANE?
Ben Masters: Playing Julian is the most fun I've ever had as an actor, and I've been doing this over thirty years. He is a very interesting character, with shades to his personality, and it's fun playing the villain. Basically, this is the first time I've played a villain this screwy! As a younger actor, I used to play the sort of juvenile, you know--the guy you'd lend the keys to your car to.
Lovingpassions: Ben, how did it feel going to the Daytime Emmy Awards show? Was it exciting?
Ben Masters: It was the most exciting time I've had since the Soap Opera Digest Awards.
Sexygurl: How did you get to get picked for the role of Julian Crane?
Ben Masters: I had a meeting with the head producer, the casting person, and a couple of others. We had about an hour chat about the character, and the concept of the show. Then, of course, they made me screen test. After I did that, they offered me the part.
Kristen: What acting accomplishment are you most proud of?
Ben Masters: Well, I'd have to say in the theatre, the play "Key Exchange" that someone asked about earlier. On television, prime time, the miniseries I did years ago called "Celebrity," and in movies, I think the movie "Key Exchange" was great. But I really haven't enjoyed anything as much as I enjoy doing "Passions."
Shanfye: I loved your reaction when Josh won his award. What is he like to work with?
Ben Masters: To be honest, I haven't gotten to work with Josh very much. He has been in Tabitha's arms when they walk by, and I saw him as Santa's Little Helper at the Christmas tree lighting in Harmony, and I did a bit of a double take. But I'm looking forward to working with him. In fact, we'll be working together soon, but I can't tell you what we're going to be doing.
Mygalsal: Whom have you worked with that stands out the most in your mind?
Ben Masters: As a performer, I'd say Ingrid Bergman. I did a play on Broadway that she starred in when I was very young. As a director, I worked with Paul Newman, who directed me in a television movie.
Curious5: If you could play any part in a movie that's already been made, what role would like to re-create?
Ben Masters: Boy, that's a difficult question! Let me think about that!
Wilmaandfred: What is more of a challenge for you, comedy or drama?
Ben Masters: I've done quite a bit of comedy on the stage, and also a couple of films. I think that Julian is at least 75 percent comedy. I believe that comedy is more difficult, because you have to deal with things like timing and hitting certain words the correct way. The technique for doing comedy in a half way decent manner is more difficult. There are a lot of people who can week on cue. The trick is making the audience weep, isn't it?
Stella832: What's the most frustrating thing about acting?
Ben Masters: For a lot of people, trying to find a job. And that's God's honest truth. The thing about being an actor is that you don't build up equity in your work like someone who is perhaps a lawyer, a building contractor, an architect, or even a plumber. You can work steadily for a number of years, and be successful in the eyes of many, and then one day, the channel can just change, and you aren't working. I think there's a thing, though. The worst thing about acting is not having a job, but what's even worse than that is having a job. And then, specifically for doing a soap opera, it's trying to make the words sound like they're coming out of your mouth in a situation at a given time.
Shanfye: Ben, I enjoy the TalkPassions web boards. You are really great at replying there. Are any more cast members planning on joining that?
Ben Masters: I had heard that Kim , who plays Ivy, was possibly going to go on. I believe that Lindsay, who plays Theresa, will go on. One of the problems with those boards is the time required to respond to people, and when you're so busy, you get behind in replying.
Paulap: What is the worst audition you ever went on?
Ben Masters: Good question! There have been so many terrible experiences. I think one of the lowest was a time I was auditioning for a television movie, and I finished doing this long emotional scene for these two rapt people behind a desk, and tears, etc., and they said "Oh, thank you," very graciously. I turned around, walked towards the door, then turned around to ask them a question, and saw that one of them was sticking his finger down his throat as if to vomit! But on the other hand, I'd like to say that the best audition experience I ever had was with Paul Newman. It's the only time in my life where I was offered the job on the spot. It was for a television adaptation of a play that won the Pulitzer Prize, called "The Shadowbox." I went in to audition in New York, and Paul Newman was sitting at the desk having a Heineken beer. I did this very emotional scene, again, with a lot of crying and stuff, and he said "Why don't you go walk around the block, think about the scene in a different way, and come back and do it again?" So I did, and after I did the scene again, he said "Do you want to play this part?" I said, "I'd love to," and he said "OK, I'm not seeing anyone else." It was just such a surprise, and a pleasant experience to go through as a young actor. Here's a clue to tonight's mystery guest--lives in Harmony.Any guesses?
Kimberly45: Do you have any strange fan stories you can share with us?
Ben Masters: I don't, really. People have generally been respectful to me during my life as an actor. I've witnessed off things that have happened to other people, though. Speaking of Paul Newman, when we were shooting that show in Malibu, he, Christopher Plummer, and I went to lunch at a seafood restaurant on the ocean. A carload of ladies, a bit beyond middle-aged, maybe early 60s, all went crazy seeing Paul Newman and started lifting up their skirts! There were girdles everywhere. I saw it with my own eyes! He always tells a good story about why he doesn't sign autographs. Years ago, he was standing in a men's room, and a guy came up to him and said "Can I have your autograph?" And here's another clue…she's not delusional!
Samantha Lynn: Hi, Ben! Welcome again! These Happy Hours are fun! So, what are the hints to the mystery guest this week? Are they male or female? Have you had any scenes with them?
Ben Masters: Female. And yes, I've had scenes with them. My best scene!
TimTabandTiff: Hi, Ben! I was just wondering how you like playing the 'evil one' on the show?
Ben Masters: I've never had so much good fun in my life! Enjoy!
SunsetBetteFan: Hi! I was in my high school production of "Ten Little Indians" by Agatha Christie two weeks ago, and I played Marston, the young, rich snob. My portrayal was inspired by Julian! What do you recommend for someone who wants to break into soaps?
Ben Masters: Study, get experience acting, go to college, be in as many plays as you can, and then, see where you are after you've finished doing all that.
NBCLive: Please welcome tonight's mystery guest, Kim Johnston Ulrich. As you all know, Kim plays Ben's 'darling' wife, Ivy. But don't worry.the two get along much better off-screen then they do on-screen! Please welcome tonight's mystery guest, Kim Johnston Ulrich, to our Happy Hour!
Kim Johnston Ulrich: Hello, and cheers!
Ben Masters: Why is your hair soaking wet at the moment?
Kim Johnston Ulrich: Well, not to give away plot, I've just taken a dip ?
Haleyjames: Do you have an acting idols you look up to?
Kim Johnston Ulrich: Meryl Streep. She's pretty much a goddess, and Rosalind Russell is my favorite actress.
Ben Masters: So many.John Gielgud, who died this week, and Alec Guiness…so many.
Samantha Lynn: Hi, Kim! You do a great job on Passions! How do you like playing such a devious character?
Kim Johnston Ulrich: I LOVE it! I love her. It's actually still great to be able to do just about anything.
Ben Masters: How did you enjoy the Emmys, Kim?
Kim Johnston Ulrich: I would have enjoyed it more had we been nominated, but it was great fun. It was the first time I had been. I wore a very pretty black beaded dress that I got from wardrobe.
Kellie: Kim, what is it like working with Ben? Have there been any hilarious moments that you can tell us about?
Kim Johnston Ulrich: There have been many, and no, I can't tell you about any of them! There are lots, but they all suffer in the translation.
Skylursky: Ben what is your 'best scene' you were referring to with Kim?
Ben Masters: What I meant to say was best scenes, because I love working in the scenes at the mansion with Kim, especially when she has something up her sleeve. Kind of that Noel Coward, if I may say, fast repartee I enjoy. Also, she's got very nice breath. No halitosis!
Morning Glory 16: Hey, Kim, I love your outfit on today's show! Ivy always looks wonderful. Do you get an input on what your character wears?
Kim Johnston Ulrich: Our costumer, Julie, is very generous and kind. I tell her what I like and don't like, and they go shopping and bring it back. If there's something I hate, she'll take it out. For my character, she makes quite a bit of my clothes, designing and making them.
Bridgette4: Kim, did you have fun at the Emmys in NY?
Kim Johnston Ulrich: I had a wonderful time just being back in New York. I used to live there, and it was fun to be back.
Ben Masters: She used to work the old clubs!
JsSecretLover: What does Julian really do with the "Luis mask?"
Kim Johnston Ulrich: You don't want to know!
Ben Masters: At the moment, he's analyzing it in his laboratory in the basement, trying to decipher its genome. He likes to wear it around the house, because he fancies himself to be like Luis, but he's just a pathetic waste of flesh.
Lovingpassions: Kim, what is your most favorite moment on "Passions?"
Kim Johnston Ulrich: Well, today's moment that I just shot will go down as one for the books, but I can't tell you about it yet. You'll have to wait and see it. But it has to do with water.
Ben Masters: NOT the water she mixes with her cocktails!
Samantha Lynn: Kim and Ben, you two have great chemistry on screen! Is there a lot of laughs between takes?
Kim Johnston Ulrich: Yes, there are. Many, many, many. At least, on my part!
Ben Masters: Yes, I'm usually laughing…at Kim!
Kim Johnston Ulrich: He usually gives me a bad time, and tells me I'm going to forget my lines. And then he forgets his!
Ben Masters: Some days are more difficult than others are.
Kellie: Kim, who would you like to work with more on the set that you don't work with already?
Kim Johnston Ulrich: My son, Ethan, and all of the young kids. I don't have story lines with Simone and Kay, but I think Kay is Ivy's kindred soul.
Jeremy9: What's the most fun role you've ever played?
Kim Johnston Ulrich: Oh, it was probably an episode of "Highlander," because I got to do a sword fight in Paris. Pretty good all the way around!
Ben Masters: The winner tonight is lovingpassions, and the prize tonight is a personally autographed picture from me! So I need you to submit your email address, and I need your first name for the autograph.
Kkulow: Kim, you are a great actress. Is there any Ivy Crane in you?
Kim Johnston Ulrich: You know, there must be. You'd have to ask my husband.
Ben Masters: Her REAL husband! The other day, Kim gave me a birthday card to sign for her mother, and I wrote "from your other son-in-law, Julian."
Manchusprincess: Ben, have you had any truly funny off camera moments with Kim you would like to share?
Ben Masters: One day I arrived at her house for a photo shoot, and her nine-year-old son, Cooper, was out on the front lawn with their scrawny dog. He saw me get out of my car, and he started to scream, and ran into the house yelling, "Mommy, that man's here!"
Shanfye: Kim, when can we talk with you at talkpassions.com boards?
Kim Johnston Ulrich: I can't get my computer online working. As soon as I get it working, and I have a friend coming to help me, I'll be there.
Jammin45: How do you prepare for a role?
Kim Johnston Ulrich: Each role is different. For Ivy, I just look into Ben's eyes. And I become evil!
Ben Masters: She finds the hatred that she needs! For me, it depends on what the part is. Basically, you have to know what the person is like--if he's a doctor, you might want to go to medical school! Just kidding! I'm too idiotic today to answer that one.
Samantha Lynn: What Hollywood legend would you like to have a date with?
Kim Johnston Ulrich: Well, Mel Gibson would probably be at the top of the list. But also Gary Cooper.
Ben Masters: Ava Gardner.
Kiefer: If you were not an actor, what do you think you would be?
Kim Johnston Ulrich: Unemployed! I'd like to think I would have been maybe an interior designer.
Ben Masters: I would have liked to have done something outside, like perhaps be a geologist. But of course, in college, when I took geology, I didn't pay any attention, because I thought I was an actor.
Kim Johnston Ulrich: He'd like to play a geologist!
Shawna: As an actor, do you think it is better to live in NY or LA?
Kim Johnston Ulrich: LA. But it depends on the type of acting. For television and film, it's LA. But for theatre, it's New York. If you want to make money, it's LA!
Nimi: What do you prefer--television, theater, or film?
Kim Johnston Ulrich: You always prefer whatever you're doing at the moment, so television. Theatre scares me. I like "Take 2."
SpooklySparks: Hi! When did you first start acting? And were you on any other soap operas?
Kim Johnston Ulrich: Professionally, making money, in 1983 on "As the World Turns."
Ben Masters: I started acting in high school plays. I was on "Another World" for three months about 18 years ago. I was a movie director with Kyra Sedgwick. I was younger then.
Shana: Do you have any advice for aspiring actors?
Kim Johnston Ulrich: Learn to type!
Ben Masters: Study everything you can. Be in as many plays as you can. If you can find a theatre, or if you're stunningly beautiful, forget all our advice, and just show up!
Scar Is King: If you could guest star on another soap, which would you choose?
Kim Johnston Ulrich: " General Hospital." They just won the Emmy. Or "Days of our Lives." At the Emmys, we were discussing that Ben needs to star on "Days", because he could be the father of Nancy's daughter!
Ben Masters: No comment.
Sexygurl: How many hours do you have to put in on "Passions?"
Kim Johnston Ulrich: It varies from week to week. There isn't a set number.
Ben Masters: You could put in a sixteen-hour day, or an eight-hour day, or maybe just work in the morning. A lot depends upon the special effects and how many people are in a scene. There are a lot of extras, background we call them, and sometimes scenes take longer. I don't think they'll be out of there by midnight tonight.
Kim Johnston Ulrich: We can't put in enough hours; we all love it.
Sarah Johnson: If you could act as anyone else on "Passions," who would it be and why?
Kim Johnston Ulrich: It would be Juliet. She is the only one who gets to do more fun stuff than me!
Ben Masters: Sam Bennett, because he gets to sleep with my wife!
NBCLive: We are almost out time for this week. Thank you, Ben and Kim, for joining us. Do you have any last words to leave our audience with?
Ben Masters: I'd just like to thank everyone again for being here tonight. We appreciate all of you so much. Thanks again.
Kim Johnston Ulrich: I would agree with that and say, "Go have a mar-timmy on us!"
NBCLive: Thanks for joining us for tonight's Happy Hour with Julian Crane. And of course, special thanks to Ben Masters and special guest Kim Johnston Ulrich (Ivy). Make sure to join us on Wednesday, May 31 at 9PM ET/ 6PM PT for our final Happy Hour. And keep checking nbc.talkcity.com for information on future chats. Do you have comments or questions about this chat or anything you've seen on the NBC television network or www.nbc.com? e-mail us: NBClive@nbc.com All of us at NBC.com and Talk City wish you a fantastic evening, and we look forward to seeing you soon! Produced by NBC and Talk City. All rights reserved, copyright 2000.