By Jon-Michael Reed
Tune in Tomorrow
April 24, 1981
LOS ANGELES - Behind the cool, flip manner and the dashing appearance is a smirky smile that immediately rings "beware" bells. He's the kind of man who could seduce you with his charm while he's slowly twisting a knife in your back.
The character is Robert Scorpio, con-man extraordinaire, on GENERAL HOSPITAL. The actor who plays the role is 35-year-old Tristan Rogers.
Rogers was born in Melbourne, Australia, where he was "pushed" by his working-class father to become an engineer. After six months as draftsman, Tristan joined a pop-rock group as a drummer and lead vocalist. The band moved to England and almost immediately disbanded. But Tristan became a manager and disc jockey of a London rock club.
"I had streaked-silver, shoulder-length hair," remembers Tristan, "and I became something of a celebrity, which led to modeling assignments and commercials. Modeling made me feel like a high-priced piece of meat and commercials are the scum-bag jobs of show business. Then, I bit my acting teeth in TV jobs and lots of B films."
Among the TV jobs was a stint on England's longest-running soap opera, CROSSROADS. Tristan has also appeared on the Australian-produced serials, BELLBIRD and NUMBER 96, which was, according to the actor, "one of the spiciest, raciest shows ever produced. The American version of '96' had such a short life last winter as a comedy. But in Australia, it was controversial fare that featured sex, sex and more sex, even a dash of nudity."
The primary difference between British and Australian soaps and their American ancestors, however, is the work schedule. "Overseas, we taped two and a half days a week and had a full day for nothing other than blocking and rehearsals. Here in the States, everything is done in one day, and a work week is often four or five days long."
"Early in my career, I was usually cast as a street-smart cop. Then I got typecast as a young slick hood or a sophisticated dandy. Scorpio is a little bit of both. He's ruthless because he pulled himself up by the bootstraps to become a self-made, wealthy man. Strangely, the audience isn't threatened by what he might do to Luke and Laura should he be crossed. And that's entirely due to the freedom I've been given to develop the guy's sense of humor while maintaining an enigmatic quality."
The audience has responded by boosting the popularity of a character that was originally intended for a short-term stint. Now, Scorpio's in the midst of intrigue over the elusive Ice Princess status, which half of the "GH" characters are vying to net. The situation pits Scorpio with and often against the show's reigning king and queen, Luke and Laura, which should guarantee Scorpio a long run on "GH."
"I adore working with Tony Geary (Luke)," says Tristan. There's always a high energy level that stretches me by keeping me on my toes. Off the set, Scorpio and Luke are referred to as the Abbott and Costello of daytime, but the fun contributes to the occasionally improvisational risks we take. I like the free-wheeling stuff with Luke, but I also relish the warmer, intimate interludes with Laura."
Off-screen, Tristan is married to an actress, Barbara. "She's my most objective critic. But after we once did a disastrous commercial together, we decided it's best if we don't work together."