Spotlight on Ben Masters
By: Deanna Barnert
Soap OperaWeekly Magazine
February 6, 2007
As his Passions character goes from dark to light to rotten again, Ben Masters is wrestling with the blue-blooded lush's evil ways.
How do you feel about the man Julian is becoming?
It's hard to go from that loving man who'd seen the light and who would do anything for Eve and his family to someone who is doing these tricky, evil schemes. And it's hard to do it where the audience still likes you! In the earlier version of Julian, he did bad, but there was something bumbling about it. He was always guilty about what he was doing and I tried to find a humorous angle to it. If you do stuff that is hideously bad and don't let the audience in on "the joke" - if there is one - then you're just bad. That's one of the great things about Alistair. I'm a big fan of John Reilly's (ex-Alistair). He ran with the bad like he was enjoying it. I always thought, "He has to be Satan himself."
So you're grappling with this transition?
I am grappling with it, but I've always relied on Jim Reilly (Passions' creator and head writer) to write he thinks should be written, because he's the guy who created all this. I just try to massage it a bit. Julian's drinking a lot more, so maybe I can get away with more.
How are Evian (Eve and Julian) fans taking this turn with their hero?
They're very upset. They still post a picture of Evian in some embrace or kiss at coffeerooms.com every night. I check them out every couple days on the Evian board (www.eviandreams.com). There are a couple stalwarts there who say, "This is the worst it could ever be!"
Julian went back to Rebecca, but just for the sex. Could you see him with someone else?
Rebecca's the worst thing in the world, isn't she? She's a dirty slut. What about that Julian and Valerie thing? That came out of nowhere. The ironic thing is, it got a lot of reaction on the fan boards - "That's the most disgusting thing I've ever seen on a soap!" We were dressed and grunting. There was no kissing or anything, but the way it was shot, it came out looking racy.
You say some of the kinkiest lines in daytime. Can Julian still shock you?
Of course. I told Eve, "You've always done your best work on your hands and knees" (laughs). Maybe, in the soap world, it dilutes itself to where you can end up back in a place where you're wisecracking with a cocktail in your hand again. Have people like you and have it be funny. Hopefully, they'll forgive, and let me get through this transition.
Speaking of transitions, it must have been difficult at work after that huge layoff last fall.
Yes. Bless Lisa (de Cazotte, Passions' executive producer), the boss lady, because she's done her best to keep it together with a minimal effect on people, even though there were some who lost their jobs. It's not like we had some big holiday Christmas party gala and spent all the money. Nobody would have felt right about it. It's an old family now, but it's still a family feeling around here.
Do you ever think about doing other gigs?
No. I could play a game with myself, but in the eight years I've been doing this, the world of acting has changed. Most of my peers who are not as lucky as I am and are still trying to do it are miserable. They're doing Broadway shows or prime-time TV, but they can't make a living at it. They're in New York, still renting apartments and worried about losing them. They're becoming teachers at NYU or some other university. Those are people who won Tony and OBIE awards and had series - not the mother lode and $15 million like Friends, but they had their shot. I'm just happy to have a job.
You're working less than you used to. How do you keep busy?
I have a house in Palm Desert that I spend a lot of time in. I spend time with Tracey (Ross, Eve), and I have a sailboat that I hardly ever enjoy. I only take it out about once every month now, because it's chilly, but if it's a nice day.... I keep busy. I contemplate the twilight of my years. Working with young people all the time, you trick yourself into thinking you're still that young. You're not, but it's nice.
Are there things you still want to do?
Before I die? I seem to have everything I want. I'm relatively healthy, I have enough material things, a bit of money, so I don't have to go out and be a waiter. I'm just watching to see how this show plays out. We're all hoping we're going to be around a lot longer. You never know, because it's still a business.