And he certainly lived up to his own words when he arrived in England for the first time. There was no advance information about which flight he planned to arrive on...Ben just checked in at Heathrow, caught the airport bus in to Victoria and then took it from there!
Later in the day he turned up at MCA's London office wearing his usual denims with a light kaftan-style shirt--which left him very exposed to the unexpected cold of London after the sunshine he'd left behind him in the States!
The first time I spoke to Ben, he immediately made himself comfortable, shaking off his sandals and pulling up his bare feet to the big settee where we were sitting in a relaxed way that at once put me at my ease too.
As far as food is concerned, Ben is consciously simple, going all out for an organic diet--which means no meat at all, lots of raw fruit and vegetables, plenty of things like honey and nut...everything that is pure in its origins.
"Most of the food I eat is raw," Ben told me. "Which means that meal-times tend to go on for quite a while, because of all that chewing!" In a way that's quite lucky because Ben freely admits that he's no cook:
"Cooking is women's work...I wouldn't even cook myself a raw food salad--I always go out to a local vegetarian restaurant which has got a good friendly atmosphere.
"The only things I keep at home are some nuts and fresh juices in a cupboard...I don't drink any tea or coffee, so I don't even bother with those!"
I mentioned to Ben that I would imagine there would be plenty of girls who wouldn't mine calling in every now and then to do some of the "women's work" around his Los Angeles apartment! He laughed and admitted that he didn't think that would present a major problems, if he chose to solve it that way!
In fact, when he's working, he doesn't have that much time for dating in the evenings, because if he didn't get to bed at a reasonable time, he wouldn't have a hope of surfacing when his alarm went off around six in the morning!
Even though his apartment is only five minutes' walk away from the Studios, Ben finds it tough getting there on time in the mornings. Because by nature, he's more of a night-bird than a skylark! But when he's not restricted by his stiff working schedule, Ben finds he can spare quite a lot of time for girls! He prefers not to call his evenings out with girl-friends "dates" because for him that word reminds him of the terrible tongue-tied movie visits he used to take girls on when he was still in high school...
"I could never think of anything to say, and I just used to sit there feeling terribly embarrassed and wondering if I should kiss her goodnight when I saw her home or not!" "Now, I know a lot more about myself and, once I know and like a girl, there may be long times during an evening, when I don't say anything at all--and that's all right...that's good, if neither of us has got anything particular to say." "To a large extent," Ben went on, "It's acting that has made me able to do that...You see, I first went into acting because I wanted to find a way to express myself, to get the key to my own personality...I guess that's what acting's all about for me."
Photo Caption: Here's Ben checking up on your letters in "Superstar"
I asked Ben how much of his own personality he had put into the character of Kid Curry of "Alias Smith & Jones".
"All of me" was his first instant reaction. But then he had second thoughts and said:
"Well, there's certainly an awful lot of Ben Murphy in the role but, then, I have to put a lot of myself into any part I play, because, for me that's the only way it's convincing and real.
...I just take out different bits of me for different roles. But I guess there's more of me than usual in Kid--except that Ben is a quieter guy than Kid!"
Did Ben enjoy working on the series generally, and was this the first series he'd been in?
"No, I was in the "Name Of The Game" before this one, but I've been with Universal right from the start. They gave me my first break with a long-term contract, and I think I've been lucky really because I can't think of a series I'd rather be in than "Alias Smith & Jones". I couldn't fall in with the idea of me being a doctor or lawyer every week of the season! But this, I like...This is fun...Specially with Pete it was good."
I didn't want to pursue this if Ben would rather leave his feelings about Pete unspoken. But he seemed quite ready to go on and talk for a bit about how it had been, working with Pete: "Oh, I guess Pete and I didn't really work as hard as we might have done...We never learned our lines properly or went through the usual system or rehearsal. But the series seemed to gain rather than lose by this, because Pete and I could improvise together and it would always work...It would sometimes change the whole direction of a script!
"I supposed you'd call it mental and body 'chemistry'--Pete and I just had this thing between us. We never had to talk about what we were going to do...It was as though each of us just knew, like that."
So what TV viewers had suspected all along was true: clearly the working relationship between Pete and Ben had been as close as the one between Smith and Jones that they were acting out on the screen. That's where a big part of the series' magic came from.
I asked Ben what the chances were of building up a similarly successful partnership with his new co-star Roger Davis:
"Well, it will obviously be different," he said. "The whole series will be different because we are a different set of people, and Roger and I will have to work out how we're going to get the right thing going." "Roger approaches his work in a different way, so we'll both have to adapt a little bit."
"I've always got on very well with Roger," he commented. "We've been friends for some time...It's just a different kind of friendship than the one that existed between Pete and me." He sat in silence for a few moments, then suddenly lifted up his head:
"You know something funny? Roger
Davis is the only guy I've ever shot on the series...I've shot
just the one guy, and it had to be him!"
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