Since 2015, Robert Palmer Watkins could be seen in the popular US soap General Hospital playing the role of Dillon Quartermaine across almost 200 episodes before leaving in 2017. After his exit in the show, Robert has gone on to film a number of starring roles including a pilot for Cupid’s Match on CW Seed and the upcoming film Last Three Days, which has recently released its full trailer. Talking to Robert, he tells us about life on set of General Hospital, filming as main character Jack in Last Three Days and working on his music.
Can you tell us about your new movie, Last Three Days?
Last Three Days is an action, thriller, crime, war, romance movie… it’s kind of hard to categorise it because it’s got a little bit of everything – it even has a bit of a Sci-Fi element with time travel! I play Jack Cluff, the lead protagonist. He’s a newly-married career-driven guy, who has achieved his goals and is now an undercover cop. It’s a very time-consuming and draining career, you’ve got to put it all out on the line to make it, which I learned about prepping for this role. Basically, Jack Cluff is being torn between his career and his new marriage – his career is taking away from his marriage and his marriage is suffering because of this extreme career that he’s chosen, and that he’s actually doing very well at. Not many people make it to the position that he’s been put in as an undercover detective, but now it’s causing his marriage to suffer.
Thomas Wilson Brown plays my cop partner counterpart (you may recognise him from Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and Knot’s Landing), he’s a great guy to work with! Debra Lee Smith plays my wife. It’s a really fun production! Jack Cluff wakes up and he can’t remember the last three days of his life, his cop life has him tied up in this drug war and he has to go back, retrace his steps to find his wife and the last three days of his life. At the end of the movie he has to determine what’s important, his career or his marriage, and it’s a pretty rocky, awesome, action-packed journey to get there.
I don’t know if that really answers the question, haha, but it’s kind of hard to explain, there are a lot of different elements at play! I would just recommend going to see it, it’s got a little bit of everything – it’s got a little bit of romance, it’s got some comedy, it’s definitely action-packed, and I got to do my own stunts. I got to play a character that was totally different from my role on General Hospital. Jack Cluff’s a little grittier, he’s a cop, he’s a little bit older than Dillon on General Hospital and he’s just got a totally different type of career, so getting to be in this action movie was really fun for me.
How would you describe your character Jack?
Jack is a good guy, loyal, and he’s worked really hard to have the position that he has. Like I said, to become an undercover cop, it takes a lot and it takes a lot of focus and energy, and that’s why his marriage starts to suffer. He starts to lose himself in this career and that’s kind of the struggle. His inner struggle throughout the story is he’s lost himself, he’s so far gone from who he was, when he wakes up and doesn’t remember the last three days, it’s kind of a realisation for him, that he has totally consumed himself with this career and lacked on his marriage. Once his wife is missing he realises how important his marriage and his wife are to him, that’s why he’s panic-stricken and has to retrace his steps over the past three days and find her. You’ve got to watch the movie to find out what happens, but Jack is loyal, Jack is very career driven, Jack loves his wife, he is torn in this story between what is most important to him, he’s worked so hard for this career but now that he has it, it is taking away from who he is and what he really wants.
Is it similar to any other roles you’ve previously played?
I think Jack is similar, I try to bring a little bit of myself to every role that I play, I would definitely say similar I think. Dillon on General Hospital and Jack Cluff and even Cupid from Cupid’s Match, a pilot that I’m currently working on with the CW Seed, I think all of them in their hearts are good, I think they all struggle with different things, and I think that their quirks and flaws come out in different ways. Most of the characters I’ve played are good guys, I have played some roles in the past that were not good guys, I’ve played some serial killers and I’ve played some cheating asshole boyfriends, but my most recent roles, my bigger parts have been good guys.
Where is the story set?
The story takes place in California, actually in Los Angeles, in and around Orange County Long Beach, kind of all over. He travels a lot with the story because he’s trying to track down these drug lords and find his wife, so it’s kind of all over Los Angeles or around Los Angeles County.
What is a typical day while filming the movie?
It was a very gruelling process, but very fun, it doesn’t feel like work when you’re doing something that you love. This movie we shot it in thirty days, I was basically needed for pretty much every day as I’m the lead of the movie, and a lot of the movie takes place with just me. There were very long days, I’d say start time around 7am and end time can be 6pm, or we could start a little bit later in the day 12pm, 1pm to maybe 2am, it just depended on whether we were shooting daytime stuff or nighttime stuff. They were usually twelve, thirteen hour days, the whole crew was really awesome to work with and everybody there was excited about this project and that makes a big difference.
Like I said, it didn’t really feel like work, but a typical day, you get to set and you find out what you’re wearing, you find out when we’re going to start, how much time you have, I usually like to look over everything straight away, to see if there’s been any changes to the lines, find my partner, run through it a few times and then I usually go to get my wardrobe on, then I’ll go through hair and make up, then I’ll find my scene partner again and go through stuff. If it’s a scene with just myself I’ll usually find a quiet place and just get in character and make sure I know where I’m coming from and what my motive is and my objective, and what I want out of the scene, and just get in that mindset. If it’s a day dealing with stunts, obviously I’m going to find the stunt guy or find my scene partner and work on that stuff and make sure we’re safe, there was a lot of time I spent in the make up chair because it’s a very bloody action-packed movie, Jack Cluff gets beaten up quite a bit so there were a lot of days where I was sitting in a chair getting blood put on my face or bruises, so that was a lot of fun. We would start then later have a lunch break, or a dinner break, then film some more, sometimes you’re waiting around, sometimes you’re being used, but you try to be productive when you’re waiting around and look at your lines or even just hanging out with the crew, or watching what they are shooting.
Do you know if there is a UK release date?
There are no dates set yet for release, I know that they are in post-production. It’s funny because even though the movie only took thirty days to shoot, the biggest part of making a movie is post-production, that’s what really takes a lot of time. They’ve been working on it now for I guess about eight or nine months, so post-production takes a long time because they’ve got to do sound mixing, colour correction, editing, we have to do ADR, come in and do voiceover if needed, there’s all kinds of stuff, music has to be done, lighting, credits, all that stuff so it does take a lot of time. I think they’re getting very close to being finished with it, I talked to the producer this past week and the director, and they said that they’ve got a couple more weeks of editing and then it should be done. They’re going to release a trailer, probably here within the next month or so, and a teaser, I think they’re hoping for a summer release date.
I’m not sure where it’s going to be released, I know they want to take it around the festivals and Comic-Con, I think they’re going for a theatre release, but it could go to Netflix, it could go to Amazon, Hulu, we’re not totally sure but hopefully worldwide.
What was it like playing Dillon Quartermaine in General Hospital?
Playing Dillon Quartermaine was amazing, that was my first big acting role, I have been an actor since I was about thirteen, fourteen years old so I’ve definitely been doing this for a long time. I’ve been in LA now for about ten years, first two years I was out, two and a half years I went to the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, and then after that I started auditioning. I was auditioning for a good five plus years before I booked General Hospital, during that five years I was working a little bit, in between my day jobs of valet parking cars, bartending and serving tables, you name it I did it to get by. Occasionally I would book a commercial or some modelling jobs, I definitely booked a few independent films that were really fun, one movie called Safari that I shot in South Africa, another movie, Back To Awesome that I shot, and a subway web series called Frat House Musical, so I was definitely getting gigs. My biggest break definitely was Dillon Quartermaine on General Hospital, I booked that about three years ago and it was amazing. I was on that show for two and a half years and it was just totally life changing.
What was your time on the show like, were there any funny moments on set whilst filming?
My time on the show was incredible, the soap fans are very loyal and the soap fans accepted me right away, which was great. I played Dillon Quartermaine, who actually was a recast, he was a character that had been on the show eight years prior to me coming on the canvas, Scott Clifton played him, and now that actor is on The Bold and Beautiful, they wanted to bring back Dillon, they needed to recast that role, so thank God they did because I booked the job. It was amazing being on set, just getting to work with those great actors and having that much dialogue thrown at you. Every day you’re shooting between thirty to sixty pages, some days even more, some days a little less, two to three episodes a day, it can be really long hours or it can be really really short hours. Some days you go in and you’re only there for a few hours and you’re done, some days you’re there all day depending on your character’s storyline. It’s an awesome job, especially starting out as an actor, to get your break on a soap is amazing because it’s constant, it’s like boot camp, as an actor you get to go on set every day and you’re pumping out material, and you’re learning how to memorise your lines super quick, and you’re improvising, and you’re working with great actors. It’s almost like doing theatre because you only get one or two takes, you don’t shoot multiple takes and multiple different angles, they have all the cameras set up and you shoot it, you do a blocking rehearsal and then you shoot it so it’s super fast, you’ve just got to come prepared. It definitely taught me how to be prepared as an actor and how to memorise my lines and get on a set and go for it right away.
My character was pretty popular on the show and I started doing fan events with Laura Wright who plays Carly on the show, they actually made me the host of the fan event, we would travel around the country and do the GH Fantasy events, that was really cool to get to interact with the fans and meet with the fans.
Oh, there’s tons of funny memories, one of the first weeks I was on they had me shirtless, because that’s what they do with all the new guys they get you shirtless as quick as they can. I got a spray tan because I wanted to have a nice tan for my scene and I looked bright orange, I got on set, took off my shirt and I looked like a cheeto, the makeup team put make up all over my body to tame my tan down a little bit and make me less orange, but from then on the make up people called me ‘Cheeto’ or ‘Orange’, so that was pretty funny!
Are you currently involved with General Hospital or is it open for you to return in the future?
I am currently off the show, Dillon my character is in LA filming a movie which is kind of cool, my character is a movie director so I can definitely relate to Dillon, because I’m in LA as an actor and he moved back to LA to work on his movie. It’s really cool that they didn’t kill my character off so there’s always a possibility that they’ll want to bring him back. I’d be open to go back for sure, I love that job but I’m also looking forward to whatever’s next, I’m staying busy and auditioning, I’ve got Cupid’s Match on the CW Seed, that’s looking really good and promising to be picked up, and then we’ve got Last Three Days coming out this summer, hopefully I’ll book something else here in the meantime. I’m always open to that possibility though, I loved being on that show and I love the whole soap world, it’s really cool and it was a consistent job, I loved the character, so if they wanted to bring me back I would definitely consider it.
What was Cupid’s Match like to film?
Cupid’s Match was awesome, it was very short, it’s only an eight minute episode, so it was just like a teaser pilot, they wanted to see how the show would do and what the reaction would be like, which has been very good. It got a lot of attention and it is now the most watched CW Seed app show, so it’s looking promising and I’m really hoping that it gets picked up and we start filming that at some point.
It was really fun, my character in that first teaser episode, I’m kind of a mystery throughout the episode, then I show up at the very end, so I didn’t spend a whole lot of time on set, but I love the cast, I love the team, KR Squared Productions, the mom and daughter team that cast me. I worked with them on that movie I mentioned previously, Back To Awesome that we filmed in Lake Tahoe, I knew them from that, they brought me in to audition for this role of Cupid, I loved the idea of it, I knew the book it was based off, the book series on Wattpad and Tongo was involved and CW Seed was involved, so I definitely was excited. He’s a good guy deep down but he’s a bad boy, he’s kind of edgy and just really fun to play.
Have you worked with any upcoming actors recently who you think will do well in the future?
Totally, honestly I have been so lucky over the past few years of my career, I have worked with a lot of actors that I think are going to do great, Cupid’s Match, General Hospital, Last Three Days, there has been so many projects I’ve worked on that I’m just inspired by the people around me, even my roommates, my good friends out here in LA, I’m very lucky to have the friends and the people I get to work with around me because I see so much talent. We’ve all got our things we need to work on, I’ve got my things as an actor and as a human that I need to work on, and realise and learn, but that’s what’s so cool about acting. I think as you learn about life and you surround yourself with different types of people and engage with different types of people, I think you become a better actor, and that’s what’s so cool about LA, there’s so many different types of people out here, everybody coming together to work on a project, I always walk away feeling like I’ve learned something. Kiki, Hayley Erin who plays my girlfriend on General Hospital, I know she’s going to do well, she’s already doing really well, she’s just booked a series regular on the new reboot of Pretty Little Liars, I believe it’s called Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists, she booked a lead on that, so she’s actually going to be filming that for like six months, so there is one right there that I think is going to do awesome.
Do you still get chance to record music?
Yeah I do, I’m actually working on some original stuff now. I put it on the back burner for a little bit because I’ve been so focused on auditioning and I’ve been travelling a lot. I’ve been wrapping up some of my last fan events for General Hospital, and some charity events, but I definitely have plans to get back to that at some point.
Have you attended similar events to Comic-Con?
I’ve attended other film festivals, I’ve been to Tribeca and I’ve been to some similar type of film festivals but no, I’ve not been to Comic-Con or anything as over the top as that I don’t think, but I would love to go, it looks like a blast every time. I’m really hoping that some of these projects I’m working on now will bring me to Comic-Con or a festival similar to that because it does look like a lot of fun.
Do you have other roles you’re working on at present or confirmed for the future?
I’ve got Last Three Days, we’re wrapping up editing with that and that comes out this summer; Cupid’s Match, looks like something’s going to happen with that, so most likely I’m going to be playing Cupid again pretty soon, I’m hoping. Other than that, I’m playing characters weekly with my auditions, I just had a big audition this past week for a really cool role and I got to play something totally different, it was really fun, so that’s cool getting auditions, although it can be very stressful and heartbreaking if you don’t get the role, haha! I try to have fun with it and remember that this is my chance to perform, I consider auditioning as working on different roles, so yeah I’m working on roles all the time.
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