Articles and Interviews
The Scorpios: Accent on Intimacy (Episodes magazine, November/Decemeber 1991)
"For Tristan Rogers and John J. York, who plays Robert and Mac Scorpio, respectively, improvisation was key. 'It just happened,' says Tristan. 'We got up and did it. We didn't sit down and get stuck in some long-winded conversation about the semantics of the relationship. We just said, "Let's do it,'" and that's what we did.'
Tristan has been playing the part of Robert Scorpio since 1980. His character debuted as an Australian-born secret agent during the Luke and Laura era, eventually relocating to Port Charles to serve as its police chief. His beautiful ex-wife, Anna, soon followed, complicating Robert's marriage to Holly by introducing him to a daughter he didn't know he had. After years of sparring, the family was reunited last summer with the remarriage of Robert and Anna. That occurred shortly after Robert came face to face with another reminder of his past: The arrival in Port Charles of his long-lost brother, Malcolm "Mac" Scorpio.
'This is kind of the last gasp in Robert's background,' says Tristan, sounding as debonair as his GH altar ego. 'I like the idea. I wish we had done it sooner.'
Asked why, he's quick to praise John J. York, who plays Mac, as 'perfect for the part. He is a very giving actor, and he kind of evolved and slipped into the role very easily,' says Tristan. 'I am happy with the relationship because both of us get along well together. That makes it a lot easier.'
John agrees. 'We are very comfortable with each other,' he says. 'I like Tristan and I think he likes me. We get along together pretty well. He literally has taken me on like his brother. That is exactly how our relationship is. It's not "Tristan Rogers, Veteran Actor and Star of the Show, and John York, Newcomer." It's two guys hanging out, being brothers, and having fun.'
John is gregarious, chatty, and thoroughly down-to-earth, solidly grounded by his happy marriage and infant daughter, Schyler. And he's refreshingly candid about his prime-time past. 'A couple of years ago, I had a hit show, Werewolf,' he says. 'Everything was great. Then the show didn't get picked up [for another season], there was a writers' strike, everything was bad.' He'd almost given up on a full-time acting career when his agent called him about the audition for 'a major role at General Hospital as Tristan Rogers's brother. I knew immediately that I would have to have an Australian accent, so I went to a bookstore, got an Australian dialect tape, and came home and studied it. And I guess I fooled somebody.'
Tristan admits that the show tried to cast an Australian actor, but 'there were no Australians here that could do the part. We tested one guy for it who was Australian, and he was awful. But see, there were certain parameters that made it difficult to cast the role. To start with, he had to kind of resemble me in some respect. There had to be that look that these two could be brothers- we couldn't have one guy with three eyes, the guy had to sort of look like me.' [For the record, both actors have light brown hair; Tristan is 6'1 and has blue eyes, while John measures 5'11 and has green eyes.] 'It got down to two people,' Tristan remembers, 'and John had a better command of the accent.'
Ah, that accent. Some might quibble that Chicago-born John doesn't quite make it as an Australian, but, says Tristan, 'Mac had been away for a long time, and consquently the accent had lost a lot of its strength, so it didn't have to be a pure accent.'
'They didn't want a strong dialect,' says John. 'They didn't want a Paul Hogan type, because that accent is too strong. They were saying, "Just a hint." To be perfectly honest with you,' he confides, 'I think I go in and out every once in a while, but a lot of people write in and want to know where I'm from in Australia. In fact, one guy on the show, a bit player, came up to me and said, "You know, you are losing your accent." He thought I was an Australian and that being around all these Americans, I was starting to talk funny!'
John describes his character, Mac, as 'a lover of life.... I think Mac is much more of a risk-taker than I am. He lives on the edge more than I do. I'm a pretty simple guy. I'm very comfortable and very happy being with my wife and baby- I don't like going out to all the parties and that kind of stuff.' On the other hand, he says, 'Mac is out there. He has all this energy and always wants to get his hands into whatever he can.'
Not unlike his brother, Robert. 'Yeah, they are a lot alike, actually,' says Tristan. 'You could believe these two people were brothers, that they're from the same family. They ar both a little on the impetuous side, but Robert, through age, has kind of managed to subdue his impetuousness a little bit. Whereas, I guess, Mac possibly tends to fly off the handle easier.'
John agrees. 'Robert is much more in control than Mac is,' he explains. 'But he's still a lot like Mac, you know, impatient, wanting to get to the bottom of things no matter how you have to get there- if you have to break some rules, you gotta do it. Of course, Robert thinks about the law first, and Mac probably wouldn't. Mac is very spur-of-the-moment.'
Asked if there is any rivalry between the two characters, John suggests that Mac might envy Robert's commitment to Anna, but Tristan doesn't think Robert feels the same way about Mac's bachelorhood status. 'No, he's gone through all that, I think,' he chuckles. 'Don't forget, when he was married, he was happily married, he never regretted it for a second... I think when he is in a relationship, he truly enjoys it. Certainly being married now he is very happy- he is as happy as the show will let him be. And they [the writers] hate that! You know, there is nothing worse in a soap opera than someone being happy. It goes against the code, so to speak,' he says wryly.
'A lot of changes have come over Robert since he got married,' continues Tristan, 'and it all tended to happen at once, so consequently he has this real feeling of family around him now.'
As for the future, both actors are intrigued with the possibilites of their pairing. 'There is hopefully always going to be a degree of turmoil in the relationship. That is the nature of the show,' warns Tristan.
Whatever lies ahead for the Scorpio brothers, Tristan and John are determined to keep their characters' relationship strong. 'I think Robert is very happy to have his brother back with him,' says Tristan. 'There is a geniune affection that comes across, and a concern for each other. There is no question that the two of them are a formidable pair.'"