Big Ben
(Clive Robertson, Sunset Beach)
British Export Came, Saw and Conquered -- In about Three Weeks

Just the Facts

Born On: December 17
What he does for Excersise: "Next to nothing, I'm afraid. But I don't think I'm supposed to be one of those all American hunks, anyways."
Favorite Hitchcock Film: North by Northwest
School Of Hard Knocks: "I had to stop playing rugby, because you can't go to auditions in an eyepatch."


His friends and family back in England thought it was an ordinary holiday, but Clive Robertson's trip to Los Angeles last Septemeber was really more like a reconnaissance mission. 

"My girlfriend and I were both actors back in London," he recalls,"and we decided to come out here for a month, just to suss the place out, really. We didn't know if we would like it here or not, and then there were all sorts of practical questions: Where would we live? What would we do? How easy would it be to get work papers?"

As it happened, getting work papers was easier than Robertson ever dreamed, thanks to girlfriend Libby Purvis, a two year veteran of the Australian Soap THE POWER, THE PASSION. "She went to see this manager, and she mentioned my name. Then I went in, just on the off chance, and he said, 'You know, there's something you might be right for...' "

That something was the role of entrepreneur Ben Evans on SUNSET BEACH. Robertson read for Aaron Spelling just three weeks after arriving in the U.S. "That was rather daunting," he laughs. "That was rather daunging," he laughs. "His office was like something out of DYNASTY: a huge room, plush pile carpet and a bank of sofas, with what seemed like 30 people sitting there. And you have to walk to this chair in the middle, no chatting, and read. It was pretty awful."

But it could have been worse. "Obviously, I knew who Aaron Speling was, but I had no idea what he looked like," Robertson recalls. "But by a twist of fate, I had been in a book shop two days earlier. I happened to see Aaron's biography and there was a picture of him on the cover. If it wasn't for that, I wouldn't have known where he was on the sofas."

After the reading, Robertson was a summarily dismissed. "Aaron asked how long I had been here. I said, 'Three weeks.' He nodded and left," the actor recalls. He was hired soon afterward. With BEACH's start date looming, Robertson had only two weeks to return to London, pack, say goodbye to his mother and sister, move halfway across teh world with Libby, find a place to live in L.A. and deal with immigration.

Luckily, he'd had a nomadic upbringing that prepared him for the whirlwind relocation. "My father was a pilot in the air force," Robertson explains. Every three years, Dad's post would change, and the Robertsons would go someplace else -- like say, Singapore or Cyprus.

"But my father died when i was 15," he continues, "and things took a bit of a turn," As a result, Robertson would up at the Oxford School of Business. "There are many reasons why I went there," he explains, though clearly it had to do with living up on the high standard set by his dad. "Alot of people were expecting me to do the 'right thing,' and out of respect for them and for my father, I did."

All the while, Robertson "Kind of knew" he wanted to a more artistic career -- maybe acting, maybe singing. "Business school wasn't a cop-out, but it was an easy way to procrastinate, to put off what I really wanted to do for another three or four years. That's the truth of the matter. I mean, I went with the intention of probaly going into marketing or something like that, but honestly, I was never really into marketing," he admits.

Upon graduation, Robertson headed to East Africa, partly do some thinking -- about drama school, in which he enrolled upon returning to London -- and partly because his tropical upbringing had imbued in him a need for heat. "I spet my childhood sitting around a pool," the actor says. "and I just never got used to the cold again. Those English winters ... ugh. Once you've felt the warmth, you can't go back."

And that, the truth be told, is what Robertson likes best about Los Angeles. "My favorite things here are the sun, the sun, and the sun," he smiles, "followed by the sea, and then the sand."

From Soap Opera Digest, May 6, 1997 By Adam Kelley

Q&A with Sunset Beach's Clive Robertson
(Soap Opera Digest May 1, 1997)


Role: Ben Evans, SUNSET BEACH 

Birthday: December 17

Bens Behaving Soaply: Christopher Cazenove, who played Ben Carrington on DYNASTY, shares Robertson's birthday. 

High Profiles: PROFILER's Julian McMahon shares Robertson's manager. 

Par Wars: Castmates Sam Behrens (Gregory) and Peter Barton (Eddie) share Robertson's golf addiction. 

Uproots, Downroots: Robertson is the son of an RAF fighter pilot. As a military child, Robertson was uprooted about every 3 years or so, when his dad's post would change. "We were always moving, but it did give me a chance to live in some interesting places, such as Singapore and Cyprus." 

Significant Other: Girlfriend of 4 years, Libby Purvis, starred on the Australian soap, THE POWER, THE PASSION (They met in drama school in London.) 

Evans-escent: When he landed on SUNSET BEACH, here's how Robertson celebrated: "I went out to dinner with my girlfriend and my manager, and we toasted with a very expensive bottle of champagne." 


Hollywood newcomer CLIVE ROBERTSON has pitched his tent all over the world (he even bummed around East Africa for a while), but getting lost in L.A. nearly cost him his job! 

DIGEST ONLINE: How did you happen to wind up on SUNSET BEACH? 

CLIVE ROBERTSON: To put it simply, I came over here from England just briefly on a reconnaissance trip. I wanted to check things out, and see if I'd like to come out to Los Angeles permanently. I wasn't expecting to be put up for any part, let alone get a part. So this whole thing was a big surprise. 

DIGEST ONLINE: But people don't just get off a plane at LAX and wind up in Aaron Spelling's office auditioning for a new soap. 

ROBERTSON: What happened was, I came over here with my girlfriend, Libby, and, as I say, we were just sort of checking out possibilities. I had an agent contact, who sent me up for a couple of roles, and my girlfriend had a manager out here. I went to meet her manager one afternoon and he said, "Oh, there's something you could be right for." That's how the whole thing got started. Then, Libby and I went down to Mexico for a few days; meanwhile, he was trying to contact me about SUNSET BEACH. So time was pretty short. In fact, when we came back, I immediately had to get in my car and race halfway across L.A. and try to find NBC. Of course, I got lost and was two hours late for the meeting. They sent me on the 101 Freeway, and I was going the wrong way. I was all over town, everywhere. Well, anyway, eventually I got there. The casting people had already seen my audition tapes; they were quite excited with my tapes, and I had a series of interviews. And then came the Aaron Spelling meeting. 

DIGEST ONLINE: What was that like? 

ROBERTSON: It was the most daunting meeting I've ever had. I mean it was funny in hindsight. To get to his office, you walked through thick pile carpet down this long corridor -- it all looked a little like DYNASTY. I think there were probably four or five guys there besides myself. I wasn't sure what nationality they were; I think they were American, actually -- and we all had to wait outside. You know what that's like. It's nerve-wracking. You just stand around twiddling your thumbs. Then they opened the door and said, "All right, we're ready for you." I walked into this enormous office, with a bank of sofas down the left hand side. It looked like the sofas stretched from one end of the room to the other -- and they were filled with maybe 15 people. There was a little chair in the middle of the room, where I sat. It was difficult for me, very difficult. Luckily, I had just happened to be in a bookstore earlier that week. I'd been browsing through a copy of Mr. Spelling's autobiography, I think, and I'd seen his photograph. Otherwise, I never would have known which person in the room he was. He was sort sitting down the end. He wasn't wearing a suit. I think he was in a track suit or something, just sitting there looking very relaxed and calm. So I sort of recognized him and made eye contact with him. I did my scene, which went very smoothly, and he then he asked me a question or two. It was incredibly daunting.

DIGEST ONLINE: What happened after you got the role?

ROBERTSON: I had to go right back to London in order to obtain my visa. I didn't have a visa at the time to work out here. And I had to get one before I could screen test. When I came back to L.A., I only brought one suitcase, because I wasn't sure I'd actually get the part. But I did get the part, and I started working so quickly that I haven't been back to London since. 

DIGEST ONLINE: Are you still living out of a suitcase in a hotel?

ROBERTSON: No, I've rented this big place in the hills [in the Studio City vicinity] with my girlfriend. I don't have many clothes, but they do buy clothes for me on the show. So I feel like I have clothes, and when I get home I end up wearing the same clothes every day. I just haven't had time to go shopping yet. 

DIGEST ONLINE: Have you adjusted to the California lifestyle yet? 

ROBERTSON: It's my first time in Los Angeles, and I like it a lot. I love the sun. You must remember, London is very cold. I lived abroad a lot when I was a child, and I never got used to the cold in England. Living up here in the hills, it's pretty; I have such a lovely view, and the pace is so relaxed as well. I don't find it as stressful as living in London. London is much more manic, probably much more similar to New York. And I love the fact that everyone here has a car to get places. I love driving. I just hate the idea of driving in London where I never get a chance to put my foot down, if you know what I mean. In Los Angeles, I can actually drive and go somewhere and not sit in a traffic jam. 

DIGEST ONLINE: Tell us a little bit about your castmates. What's the backstage atmosphere like at SUNSET BEACH? 

ROBERTSON: Well, Susan Ward [Meg] and Sarah Buxton [Annie] are very different kinds of actresses, basically, but they're both fun to work with. The more I work with them, the more interesting it becomes. The fact that we all started on a new show together created a feeling of instant camaraderie. I worked in theater, where it's the same experience. You start off with a new cast and nobody knows anybody, but because you have to work with each other, you're forced to get to know people quickly. On SUNSET BEACH, everyone -- the cast, the crew -- is trying very hard to make the show succeed, and it's a nice experience. Everybody is very friendly, and there are no cliques. The whole medium of daytime is actually new to me. I've never done anything like this before. I've mainly done theater, so the experience of turning out a new show every day is simply unique to me. It's a lot of hard work. Susan Ward and I have probably been on more than almost anybody -- that's a helluva lot of dialogue to learn. When you're on the show five days a week, you have to go into the studio, be in all your scenes, do all the work, then learn your dialogue for the next day when you get home. It's a hard process really. You don't have time to sit down and relax. 

DIGEST ONLINE: You probably start to feel like you don't have a life outside the studio? 

ROBERTSON: It's a question of finding the time. When you start out on a new project, you're going to put all the time you have to into it -- I'm always like that. I like to make the work good. So I enjoy putting in as much time as I need to get it right. But as time goes on, I think one can find the time to do other things. For instance, I played golf yesterday. I hadn't played in a while, but I went out on this wonderful course with Sam Behrens, and I beat him! I also play golf with Peter Barton, and the other day I went to an ice hockey game with Nick Stabile [Mark]. 

DIGEST ONLINE: According to your resume, you earned a B.A. from the Oxford School of Business and worked in marketing. Then, you escaped to East Africa "to reassess your life." After that, you enrolled in acting school. What originally prompted you to study business? 

ROBERTSON: My father died when I was about 15. Basically, I think my father had always envisioned me becoming a businessman of sorts. You see, unlike his father, who was a very successful doctor, my father sort of burned bridges, if you like, in favor of flying. He went down that route -- and you don't become a pilot in order to make money. We were never poor, but I think he wanted me to earn money. So when the time came for me to make choices, I went toward business, not that I had any particular bent in that direction. It just seemed to be the right thing to do at the time. I mean the truth is, deep down, if I had really sat down and listened to my true instincts at the time, I probably would have gone in another direction, but that didn't happen. 

DIGEST ONLINE: Do you ever regret the time spent in the business world? After all, you could have been out on the audition circuit maybe 5 years earlier. 

ROBERTSON: I don't know. I never regret anything I've done. What's the point? It's funny, isn't it? You do different things. If I hadn't gone to business school, if I hadn't worked in business, which I did for a couple of years, I may not have been the person that I am now. Everything grounds you in a certain way. It's good for an actor to have some outside experience; there are some actors that have only ever done acting, and they've never experienced much out there in the real world. I came to acting late, you see; I was 25; so it's different for me. In a funny way, what attracted me to acting wasn't the fact that I was any good at it. It was the idea of making something real; that's always fascinated me and still does. I think I made the right choice ultimately, because almost everything else I've ever done in my life, including business, sooner or later I got bored with. Acting is like golf -- it's an amazing challenge. It's never bored me, but the moment I think I've finally cracked it will be the moment I give it up.