Born to be Bad
Soap Opera Update
November 20, 2001

Ben Masters says the role of Julian on Passions came at just the right time for him

Longtime NBC Daytime viewers know that Passions isn’t the first soap on which Ben Masters, who plays Julian Crane, has appeared. In 1982, he played Another World’s Vic Strung, a movie producer who interacted with Kyra Sedgwick’s Julia. “AW was the first soap that I’d been on,” Masters shares. “It was interesting to be around people who had been doing the show for a while. I was new to the whole ‘shotgun’ style of acting that is such a part of the soap medium. You don’t start the race – you just jump into it.”

Juggling Routine
Masters says that other soaps showed interest in him over the years. “My agent in New York would call me periodically and ask if I was interested in a contract role,” recalls the actor. But a successful flow of primetime and film roles, before and after AW, kept Masters too busy to entertain the daytime offers. It seems this had always been the way for the star.

Upon graduating as a theatre major for the University of Oregon, Masters found work almost immediately. “In my 20s, I was cast as ‘the college kid.’ The first job I had on TV was when I was 24 on an episode of Kojak,” remembers Masters, who drops a bit into Julian’s droll tone when he adds, “and as the years went on, I got cast as the bad senator.”

Etc., Etc., Etc.
The actor’s impressive resume reads like an issue of TV Guide. He has appeared on Murder She Wrote (“Angela Lansbury was fabulous”), Diagnosis Murder, Touched by an Angel, and Sisters, among others. In addition, the actor was directed by Paul Newman in a TV movie of the play “The Shadow Box.” Masters even appeared on the Connecticut theatre stage with Meryl Streep!

Approximately eight years ago, Masters says a shift occurred in the amount of work that he was asked to do without auditioning. “Once a year, I found myself doing a movie where I’d play Judith Light’s (ex-Karen, One Life to Live) husband after she’d been stalked or something,” he says. Projects, however, became less rewarding. “Poor me,” Masters chuckles.

“Then, I got a call about Passions and I met with (executive producer Lisa Hesser). One thing led to another and they offered the part of Julian to me.”

The role, he says, has “really got me going again. I’ve put my finger back in the wall socket and gotten a good shock. Other than a part I played on stage in my mid-30s, when I was in New York, I have never played a part as fun as Julian.”

Know Your Lines
Since the Passions cast is comprised of many newcomers, one might assume that they’ve taken advantage of Masters’ experience.

“Generally speaking, young people listen to old people with about half of their head anyway,” deadpans the actor. “If somebody asks me a question, I can share my experiences. My advice in general in regards to work is to just know the lines. I’m more of a father figure who listens to the younger actors when they talk about their love lives. Sometimes in life, people are too willing to give advice when, frankly, they don’t have any business giving it.”

Prior to Passions, fans of Masters weren’t quite sure how they knew the actor when he’d be out and about. “People would say to me, ‘Didn’t you go to school with my cousin at some point?’” chuckles the performer, who adds that “you learn early on not to say that you’re an actor. You’d be surprised how you can end up reciting your resume to people who’ve seen you in something, but they end up saying, ‘No, I don’t remember you in that.’”

But Passions has changed all that. “Now, usually, it’s young women saying, ‘Oh, it’s Julian!’” – by Michael Maloney