Soap Opera Digest: You made your GH debut as Robert on December 2, 1980. What was life like for you before GH came along?
Tristan Rogers: I was a builder’s laborer. I had just gotten to the country [from his native Australia] and that’s what I did for a while, and then I worked in a gym as an instructor for a while. The first job my [theatrical agent] sent me out on was GENERAL HOSPITAL, for a two-day role.
Digest: What do you remember about the audition?
Rogers: It was very unspectacular. I got in there, the one other person who was in there, I happened to know from Australia. It came my time to do the reading, which wasn’t for Gloria [Monty, then-executive producer], it was for the casting director. They said, “Can you come back tomorrow?” That was a hopeful sign! So, I came back the next day and did a reading with Gloria and we chatted a bit and again they said, “Can you come back tomorrow?” I said, “Sure.”
What else was I doing? Came back the next day and there were a whole lot more people there, and one of them was the VP of [ABC] Daytime who was visiting from New York, Jackie Smith. After, they said, Can“ you come back tomorrow?” This went on for the whole week! Friday came along and it was one of those really rare occasions in an actor’s life where you know you’ve got the job, but they’re not going to tell you. And sure enough, on the following Monday, my [then-]wife got a call and they said, “Yes, he’s got the job, can he presen t himself at the studio today for a wardrobe fitting?” And away we went. I don’t think the reading was anything fantastic, bu t Gloria used to look for people who go t along with her personality-wise, and unless you’re a complete butthole, I can get along with you! We hit it off, and [one day on set] I was asked to come into her office and she said, “There’s been a discussion, and we’d like to keep you.” I was dumbfounded.
Digest: And GH just so happened to be the hottest show on television at the time.
Rogers: I didn’t know at the time the importance of GENERAL HOSPITAL; it was just one more job for me. But it was really exciting, to be fresh off the boat and walk into this role. Of course, after that, everywhere I went, people would go, “You’re on GENERAL HOSPITAL? That’s the hottes t thing in the country! You’re working with Luke and Laura? Oh, my God!” I had never told anyone that I was [in the U.S.] as an actor, so it was a shock to everybody when I [told my bosses], “I got this role on this show called GENERAL HOSPITAL and I can’t work for you guys anymore.” Their jaws just dropped! It was a big deal, and it just kept on going. It was the gift that kept on giving, so to speak. I got caught up in the GENERAL HOSPITAL tidal wave and just got swept away by it.
Digest: What was that sudden catapult into fame like for you personally?
Rogers: It was a tough adjustment. It was something you would never get in Australia to that degree, because the audience is so much smaller. To be part of something that was a massive phenomenon in the country is very hard to put into words. You literally had very little privacy; everywhere you went, people pointed at you like you were some kind of a whack job! It took a bit of adjusting. It cost me my marriage. The marriage kind of got swept to the side; we led two different lives, so we finished it.
Digest: In your first year on the show, Robert was entangled with Luke and Laura and the Ice Princess adventure on Cassadine Island. What stands out to you about that time?
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