BIG BEN
Clive Robertson Clocks In With The Most Memorable Moments As SUNSET BEACH's Ben
By William Keck - SOD Magazine
December, 1998


Dashing, debonair and at times, diabolical, SUNSET BEACH's Ben, with his sexy English accent, is a throwback to the '80s leading man of daytime. A modern-day version of GH's Robert Scorpio, Ben possesses the perfect blend of stability and danger. "I try to give the character a kind of dry sense of humor we find back at home," explains his portrayer Clive Robertson.



"Ben's pretty serious, so I always have to fight for his lighter side." Like James Bond, Ben is a very enigmatic character, full of mystery - which can, at times, be terribly puzzling for an actor. But Robertson has managed to pull it off, often interjecting his own imagination to lend credibility and continuity to the character. Here, the actor reflects on Ben's past, present and possible future.
BEN'S BACKSTORY
Pre-BEACH's January, 1997 debut 

BEACH has so far been cagey in revealing any specific data concerning Ben's mysterious past. To help the audience (and himself, as an actor) understand who this man is and where he came from, Robertson uses his creativity to fill in the blanks. "This is purely invented by me, but I always saw Ben as a Gatsby character," offers Robertson in reference to the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. "I never believed he came from money. I feel he is escaping from something when he came to America. Early on, I discussed with Bob Guza [one of BEACH's creators, now GH's head writer] that Ben was a resourceful individual who climbed on a boat and gleaned all the information he could from the captain and officers. Two years later, he ended up on the shores of America and was taked up by Gregory as his protege." With Gregory's guidance, Ben quickly advanced in the business world. How is Ben making a living today? "My view is that ben has all the prostitution rackets cornered," quips Robertson, before offering a more serious response. "He's got the Java Web and The Deep, and he's a shareholder in the Liberty Corporation. But I always believed that he has other business dealings on the side that no one else knows about. Any businessman who gets where he gets very quickly is entirely above the law.


 
Early 1997 

When Ben and Meg first appeared onscreen on January 6, 1997, they were communicating via the Internet. he, in Sunset Beach, used the name "S.B." She, in Kansas, adopted the pseudonym "Dorothy." Meg came to California, but at first, Ben was exceedingly resistant to getting emotionally involved with her. He used Annie (Sarah Buxton) as a tool to alienate Meg. For a while, it seemed as though Ben was slowly going insane. Tortured by memories of Maria, Ben locked himself in his bedroom with her burning bed. "Legally, I wasn't allowed to get too close to the bed, so they had 'stunt' Ben standing there," Robertson recalls, clarifying that he does not believe his character was attempting suicide. Ben did, however, attempt to kill himself at an earlier time. "He went into the ocean after he believed Annie had died and it was Meg who pulled him out."


 
Mid-Late 1997 

Meg tried to get to the bottom of Ben's mysterious behavior by snooping in his secret locked room. In the course of her investigation, she uncovered bloody bed sheets and a pair of scissors. Meg had the sheets analyzed, confirming that it really was blood - but whose? "I presume those items are still in Ben's closet," smiles Robertson. "Ben thought Derek died that night [of the bloody incident]. There are a lot of things that still haven't been throrougly explained, but I think we're finally going to tie all that up now that Maria is back. At least, I hope we are." Robertson has a theory about who killed whom, when and where, but he's keeping mum just in case his assumption matches the writers' long-term storyline.
Annie and Tim (Meg's one-time fiance) had long been in cahoots to break up Meg and Ben. Amoung their outlandish plots: hiring a Maria look-alike and later, implanting a posthypnotic suggestion in Ben that triggered him to call Meg "Maria." "I have to admit, that's when I thought the whole thing was falling," he confides. "When I read it, I thought, 'Oh, my God, I've worked so hard to make this character real.' But they played it very straight and I was surprised how pleased I was with the end result." As for the Maria look-alike, Robertson has actually grown accustomed to playing opposite several different incarnations of his presumed-dead wife. "We had several different Marias," laughs Robertson. "We had Maria's voice, Maria's body, Maria's hand. Bits and pieces of Maria running around like Frankenstein.

During Ben's post-hypnotic phase, he and Meg (Susan Ward) made love for the very first time - in a cave, of all places. The actor remembers the shooting of the scenes as being anything but sensuos, with neither he nor Ward feeling at all sexual. "It was a nightmare of a week," he recalls. "We shot six episodes of the cave stuff in two days. By the time we filmed our love scene, we were both pretty dirty and strung-out. Neither of us were very happy, but that's the illusion of television." Fed up with Ben's evasiveness, Meg ran home to Kansas for a mental-health break. Ben followed soon after and won back her heart. ben and Meg soon became the soap's standout supercouple - a revelation that took the actor by surprise. "When I first played with Susan. I didn't think I had any chemistry with her," he admits. "But [obviously], people were able to see things I wasn't able to see."



 
December 1997 - January 1998 

For Christmas, Ben surprised Meg with her very own island. The whole gang sailed off to celebrate, but danger was in store. While Ben was out of town on business, his psychotic-killer twin, Derek, seized the opportunity to assume Ben's identity. Chief amoung Derek's victims was Mark, Ben's pal. "I do miss Mark. Mark brought out a different side of Ben's character that we don't see anymore," sighs Robertson. "Ben had found Mark as a runaway and related to him as a big brother."


 
FEBRUARY - JUNE 1998 

Although BEACH fans were shocked when Ben was revealed as the Terror Island Killer, Robertson always knew that his evil twin was the culprit. "Early on, I was a bit confused, so I talked to the producers for clarification," he admits. "They confirmed the Derek storyline, giving me a little time to work on some characterization, I had a bit of trepidation about playing two front-burner characters at the same time. It took a lot out of me. To be honest, I had no idea what I was getting into!" The Derek saga continued for several months, taking many interesting twists and turns along the way. Ironically, Derek was the one man who was finally able to free Ben from his personal hell. Derek validated what Maria had tried so desperately to explain to Ben the night she died - Derek and Maria never had an affair. "Who knows, we may suddenly find out that Ben actually had tried to kill Maria," laughs Robertson.


 
June - September 1998 

As soon as Derek took a tumble off a cliff, the earth started shaking as BEACH kicked off it's "Shockwave" disaster summer storyline, which found Meg trapped in a hospital room with "Dana", her new friend. Ben was not injured, but provided comfort to Meg (who thought her sister, Sara, was dead) and Olivia (Lesley-Anne Down). Though Robertson has never experienced a violent LA quake, he was accustomed to a little shakin' goin on. "I have a flat in London, and I remember that at 4am, I'd be awakened by shaking," he remembers. "I later discovered a heavy-goods train was passing through the station 400 yards from me every morning."


 
September 1998 - Present 

"Dana" was, of course, revealed to be Ben's presumed-drowned wife, Maria (Christina Chambers), and from that moment until Meg and Ben's October wedding, Ben and Maria experienced one near run-in after the another. "I think Ben thought he was going crazy," smiles Robertson. "He had finally put Maria behind him, and there she was, cropping up every time he turned his head. His heart is definitely with Meg; he's in a very difficult position. At some point down the road, it's all going to get to him. As nice as he is, Ben must have a breaking point too." Ben is currently co-habitating with two brides at once, a scenario that many guys can only fantasize about. "I'm probably the envy of most men around the world," he chuckles. "But he's treading on broken glass. Whatever they have in store, I can't see them giving up on Meg and Ben.