Ben Masters and Kim Ulrich
"Passions"-Julian and Ivy Crane
November 16, 1999
Actors Ben Masters and Kim Ulrich chat with fans about their careers and their roles as Julian and Ivy Crane on NBC's hit soap opera, "Passions."
NBCLive: Welcome to NBC Live! Tonight we are chatting live with Kim Johnston Ulrich and Ben Masters, who portray the powerful and wealthy Ivy and Julian Crane on daytime's hot new soap, Passions. Kim is no stranger to the world of soaps, having played Diana McCall on "As the World Turns" for over two years. Kim has also appeared in a number of primetime shows, such as "Nightingales" and "Reasonable Doubts". Ben is a veteran of theater and primetime, having played roles on series such as "Murder She Wrote" and "Sisters", as well appearing in many made for television movies. Welcome Kim and Ben!
Ben Masters: Hi, Audience!
Kim Johnston Ulrich: Hello out there!
Halley: What have been some of your favorite scenes to tape so far?
Kim Johnston Ulrich: I would have to say the desk scene (when Ben is trying to seduce me on the desk), and the Ivy flashbacks. I get long hair.
Ben Masters: One of my favorite scenes was where I was teaching Ethan, my son, what it is to be a crane. Generally, scenes with Kim as Ivy. I have a lot of fun in those scenes giving her a hard time.
JoDawn: Kim, give us as much dirt as you can about the connection with Ethan and Sam.
Kim Johnston Ulrich: You have as much dirt as I can give you! I just keep staring at the locket with the picture of Sam. That's all she wrote! I don't know anything more!
JoDawn: Does being a famous actor/actress ever have its stresses?
Kim Johnston Ulrich: I've never been famous enough to know, truly. I'm sure it would.
Ben Masters: At times in my life when I was doing a lot of television, like mini-series, I would be recognized at the grocery store. I sometimes found that stressful when all I was doing was trying to buy a loaf of bread.
Dale75: How did you get your roles on Passions?
Ben Masters: I had a meeting with the producers and, like everyone, screen-tested. For some odd reason, they picked me.
Kim Johnston Ulrich: I know the casting director from other work I'd done, and she had me audition. Then I also screen-tested and they had me back to screen test again with Ben. I was hired!
Ben Masters: She was the best kisser for the screen test.
Shyone: What do you like to do in your spare time?
Kim Johnston Ulrich: I have a child, so I spend a lot of time with him and my husband. I garden and like to cook. I spend a lot of time with the family.
Ben Masters: Lately, I have not had much spare time because of the show. But when I do have spare time, I like to play golf and enjoy nice meals and friends. I like to spend time with my yellow lab, Willy.
EthansBabyGurl: I have two questions, one for Ben and one for Kim. Ben, how does it feel playing the 'Bad Guy?' Kim, I don't know if you know or not, but does Sam ever find out Ivy's 'big secret?' Thanks.
Ben Masters: I didn't think I was playing the bad guy. But seriously, it's a lot of fun playing the bad guy.
Kim Johnston Ulrich: I honestly don't know if Sam ever finds out. They truly don't let us know that far in advance. I don't know.
PsDf837: Kim and Ben, off the set, how do you really treat each other?
Kim Johnston Ulrich: Ben is never out of character.
Ben Masters: We treat each other very well. We have a good relationship off the set, because we have such a good time on the set. I would never socialize with her off the set, it's so boring. I think Jesse's hot. Everybody thinks Jesse's hot!
Miguelover4-ever: Ben, is it fun playing a villain?
Ben Masters: Yeah, it's a lot of fun playing a villain! You get to do things other people don't get to do.
Kim Johnston Ulrich: You get all the good lines.
Sosi1: First of all, I would like to say that Kim came on and lit up the screen on her first day on the show, and Ben has been so devilish during the last few weeks. As a 17-year-old I would just like to know how you became comfortable with your characters, and are you exited about where the story lines are heading?
Kim Johnston Ulrich: Frighteningly, Ivy is just like a very comfortable coat. I have no problem being comfortable with her, and that kind of scares me. Yes, every day is an adventure. I love to see where they're going with these characters.
PsDf837: What one thing would you change about Passions?
Ben Masters: The ratings!
Kim Johnston Ulrich: I'd have to agree!
Bobby James: If you could play any role ever written, what would be your dream role to play?
Kim Johnston Ulrich: I have always wanted to be Auntie Mame! But Rosalind Russell did it perfectly, so there you go!
Ben Masters: I would like to play Timmy on Passions.
Passionssssss: Mrs. Ulrich, are you similar to the character you play?
Kim Johnston Ulrich: Lord, I hope not!
Tammy546: What do you like most about your roles? What do like least? Ivy has better makeup and hair!
Ben Masters: I like the fact that I get to play a very rich, spoiled baby. And what I like least is when I have to leave the Crane mansion.
Kim Johnston Ulrich: There are so many things. Ivy has lots of levels. She goes from being a very good person to a kind of evil person, so that's fun. All the levels are fun. What I like least are the long hours!
Passionsfan: Ben, you have appeared on stage, TV and screen. Which media do you prefer and why?
Ben Masters: Let me answer that in an indirect way. Doing a soap opera is the most difficult for an actor of any of those three. And even after all this time of working in plays and in primetime television, I'm having more fun doing this than I ever have had--and that's the honest truth. This is more like doing live theater than working in primetime television.
Kraze4passions787: How far in advance do you tape the shows before they are broadcast to the public?
Kim Johnston Ulrich: We're doing Christmas right now. We're about a month ahead at the moment.
Hotgrl3000: This is Lindsey from Gulfport, Mississippi. How could I get a real chance to be on the show?
NBCLive: There's an online casting call going on right now Check nbc.com/passions for details.
Tori486: Who is the funniest character on the show in real life? Thanks!
Kim Johnston Ulrich: Probably Ben or Galen.
Ben Masters: Balton James is pretty funny, he plays Hank.
Kim Johnston Ulrich: They're all pretty funny.
Mystery Girl: Ben and Kim, it's great to see you on Talk City! What makes Passions different from other shows on daytime TV?
Kim Johnston Ulrich: Well, we have a witch!
Ben Masters: … and a talking devil doll!
Kim Johnston Ulrich: … and we haven't had very much sex.
Tonya: Kim, first I would like to say that you are very beautiful and that I love your character. Will we find out that Ethan is really Sam's son and not Julian's? That's the way the story line seems to be going.
Kim Johnston Ulrich: There are always forks in the road, you never know.
Ben Masters: You don't know, do you?
Kim Johnston Ulrich: I don't know. He might be!
NBCPASSIONSFAN: I read in your bios that you both enjoy cooking. What are your favorite dishes to prepare?
Ben Masters: Roasted garlic chicken with rosemary. In the desert where I live, there is rosemary growing out in the wild.
Kim Johnston Ulrich: I have a cookbook fetish. I don't really have a favorite dish, because I'm always trying something new.
Babyblond: Ben, you are so good at being mean and nasty. Will your character ever "see the light" and be nice to Ivy?
Ben Masters: Well, Babyblond, I think I am nice to Ivy. She's the one who's pulling all sorts of tricks on me I think I've already seen the light.
TVwatcher: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be, and who would like to travel with?
Kim Johnston Ulrich: I'd better say my husband.
Ben Masters: Which one?
Kim Johnston Ulrich: I've been to Fiji, and I've been to France. I want to go to Ireland someday.
Ben Masters: I've never been to Ireland, but I'm in love with the south of France. I did a movie there 12 or 13 years ago, and I spent six months in-and-around Nice, and I want to go back, preferably with some really beautiful young woman who likes to drink wine.
Kim Johnston Ulrich: Your girlfriend had better not read this.
WashMo: Do either of you or the other cast members personally answer your fan mail, or does someone do that for you?
Ben Masters: I personally answer mine.
Kim Johnston Ulrich: I think at this point, everyone is answering his or her own. I especially answer those that send me a self- addressed stamped envelope.
Curious456: Do either of you have any other projects going on aside from Passions?
Kim Johnston Ulrich: There is no time for any other project.
Ben Masters: Ditto! … You did a 3rd Rock.
Miguelover4-ever: Hi! I love you guys and your characters! Kim, who designs your clothes, I love them!
Kim Johnston Ulrich: Julie Englesman is the costume designer on the show. She either buys or designs them. She's very good and she's very generous with letting us choose.
NBCSoapFan: How did you both become involved in acting? Did either of you ever pursue a different career?
Ben Masters: I became involved in high school plays, and I was a Theater Major at the University of Oregon. I went to New York when I was 21 and lived there for many years. While in New York, I started working off-off-Broadway at places like Cafe LaMama, then I started getting jobs in regional theatres and working my way up to bigger parts, then Broadway.
Kim Johnston Ulrich: I was an Art Major. I was going to go into Interior Design, met my husband (who was then an actor), got married, moved to New York, got his agent, started studying, and then started working!
Snow: Hi! My names Sophie, and I live in Memramcook, Canada. I wanted to know how long it takes you guys to shoot a whole show?
Ben Masters: Well the show we're shooting today, which has some special effects in it, seems to be taking about 18 hours. But for a normal show, we come in six-thirty am and hopefully get out by 8 pm at night.
Kim Johnston Ulrich: The actors usually have it better than the crew, though. Our hours are staggered. The crew works straight through.
Bubblegum: Kim, do you prefer being on a weekly evening series or a daily soap opera? What are some of the differences?
Kim Johnston Ulrich: Money is the biggest difference. I love doing what I'm doing! I wouldn't want to be the lead of an hour-long show who has to work every day, every scene, in every show. That would be too much for me. Speaking of work, I'm back to the set and try to steal Sam away some more.
Tiggerbf: I think you are a very good actor, Ben, but I must say I liked you better in "The Lady Killer."
Ben Masters: You did, did you? That was a television movie with Judy Light. It was a different kind of character and it was a different medium, meaning film as opposed to tape.
Rob605: Have you ever encountered viewers who don't quite understand that a soap isn't real life? In other words, Ben, have you had any little old ladies smack you with their purses for being, well, such a Julian?
Ben Masters: Nice question! I haven't been doing this role long enough for that to happen yet. However, Julie who's the wardrobe designer, her mother, who's a small older woman, who lives in St. Louis, keeps calling her and saying "If I ever meet him I'm going to slap him right in the face!"
JC Blue249: Ben, are you always going to be the antagonist in this show? I think that is the right word, and not protagonist, but you know what I mean.
Ben Masters: I think Julian, in the future, is going to get a lot darker. I don't think he's going to be working for 'the good cause' any time soon.
NANADELA: Ben, will Julian ever admit to Sheridan that she actually murdered someone?
Ben Masters: Nanadela, whatever gave you the idea that Sheridan ever murdered someone?
Emily: This question is for Ben. Hi! I heard you were a former U of O student. (I am a current student here.) I was just wondering what were some of your memories from college?
Ben Masters: I spent a lot of time in Villard Hall, which is the Theater Department. I have great memories from there. I loved the campus, the Student Union, and my four years there. I would love to do it over again!
EZGuest302: How have your lives changed since starring in Passions?
Ben Masters: The most significant change has been that I have no personal life any longer. The work hours are so long that you barely get home and fall asleep, before it's time to get up in the morning and come back.
Deblah: What is like being on a new soap opera, especially one that replaced one with such a large following?
Ben Masters: It's different than doing a show in primetime that might only be guaranteed for 13 weeks. You know, to see if it was going to go. This show, Passions, will go much longer than 13 weeks, so it's more of a marathon than it is a sprint, if you know what I mean. It's a new show from the beginning, and I feel fortunate to be a part of it. As for replacing Another World, I know the fans were upset, but that was a decision made by someone other than me.
PsDf837: What are you doing for the millennium?
Ben Masters: I'm going to be trying to stay up until midnight in Palm Desert, California, where I normally live. We don't get that much time off to do something grand, like fly to Paris.
PConn08: What is the most exciting part of your job?
Ben Masters: I really love the doing of it when the scene is well written and I feel that it goes well. I also enjoy watching the shows and scenes I think have gone well. Basically, trying to act this part is the most exciting aspect of the show.
WiseSpirit: How long will it before we know the truth about Ethan's father?
Ben Masters: Stay tuned and keep watching!
Tara : What does it take to be a good actor or actress?
Ben Masters: That's a complicated question. You have to have experience, which you can get from studying, from working. You have to have a bit of talent, and you have to have some luck. You have to have a lot of 'stick-to-it-iveness,' because it can be very heart-breaking sometimes to not realize your dreams.
Blakely: Is there a place we can send fan mail to? Also is there an official Passions web site?
NBCLive: You can send the fan mail to the studio at 4024 Radford Avenue, Administration Building, 2nd Floor; Studio City, California 91604. Address it to whichever actor you want it to get to. There is an official website at www.nbc.com/passions. We are almost out of time for this evening. Thank you, Kim and Ben, for joining us. Do you have any last comments for our audience?
Ben Masters: Keep watching! If you haven't watched yet, try it out. There's a lot of really strange stuff that's happening. We love it when you watch!
NBCLive: Thanks for joining us for tonight's live chat with Kim Johnston Ulrich and Ben Masters. Do you have comments or questions about this chat or anything you've seen on the NBC television network or www.nbci.com? If so, e-mail us at 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! Good Night! Produced by NBC and Talk City, Inc. All rights reserved, copyright 1999.