It was a two-day role that originally lasted for 11 years. Tristan Rogers hit some serious paydirt as secret agent Robert Scorpio on General Hospital. He departed from the show in 1992, going out with a blast: Scorpio was blown up on a boat, and his body was never recovered - a sure sign that producers were leaving the door open for his return.
Although he knew it wouldn't be like the old days, Rogers returned for ten episodes in 2006, and has since returned from time to time.
In between being Robert Scorpio, he played Hunter Jones, P.I. on The Bold and the Beautiful, was a bartender on 23 episodes of the series Fast Track, his own creation, did voiceovers and appeared on many primetime television shows. To us, though, he'll always be the dashing, funny and charming Robert Scorpio. He reminisces about his early years on the show.
The Luke and Laura Storylines:
"The show was fun to do," Rogers says. "It was a whole lot looser. The plots were stupid, but we were having an absolute blast doing it, and that's what sold it. It was a rare moment in time, and you'll never see it again." Improvisation played a large part in those days and "An entertaining story popped out," Rogers remembers.
Working with Elizabeth Taylor:
In such a free-wheeling atmosphere, what happened when Elizabeth Taylor joined the cast briefly in 1981?
"I was one of the only people who had a one-on-one scene with her," Rogers recalls. "I was warned, 'Tristan, do not ad lib. Elizabeth has never worked with a five-camera set-up.' We got on the set, and she had cue cards. I was warned about that, too -- 'Don't change the lines!' I said, 'OK.'
I walked into her dressing room and introduced myself. As we talked, it became apparent to me that she knew the script probably better than I did. I said, 'Look, I've made a couple of changes here ...' She roared with laughter. She'd been told the whole set was a monster of improvisation. She said, 'Just do what you do,' and we did it." Fans can still remember Scorpio's entrance into Helena's suite. Gazing at Taylor, glamorous in her trademark purple, he says, "I swear you do it with mirrors."
"Tony Geary and I were like perennial clowns," Rogers says. Recalling a shoot in San Antonio: "We couldn't film in a cemetery, so we used the yard of a guy who made headstones. He let us use the house as a dressing room and gave us a bottle of tequila. In the center of the coffee table was a pewter urn that someone said contained the ashes of his wife. So we didn't sit near it. Then someone came in from outside and said, 'That urn on the table -- unscrew the top and invert it and it becomes a flower vase.' It didn't have ashes in it at all.
When Tony came in, I poured a shotglass of tequila into it. He started screaming at me, 'You sacriligeous bastard, it's his wife's ashes.' Everyone else was in on the joke and laughing so hard we had tears running down our faces. I forgot I was still miked, so everyone on the street heard the whole thing. There was a scene being filmed elsewhere, and the sound guys laughed so hard they wrecked the scene."
How soaps have changed "We were about adventure and romance. Now it's all about social issues, I guess."
Tristan, we love you, we're so glad you're back on General Hospital.