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The Real Me: Robert Taylor - I'd like to marry and have kids but my girlfriend can't stand me I really that bad a catch?; Robert Taylor reveals all to NINA MYSKOW.


AUSTRALIAN actor Robert Taylor is a big man making a huge impact on our TV screens. He has landed the part of the new priest in Ballykissangel, starring as Australian curate, Father Vincent Sheahan.

The sixth series of the whimsical drama series set in Co Wicklow started last night on BBC1. The next episode is screened on Sunday at 8.15pm and it will continue on Sundays thereafter. Movie actor Rob, who was in The Matrix, can currently be seen starring in Vertical Limit.

Rob lives on his own in Melbourne, Australia. We met there, at the discreetly trendy Adelphi Hotel. Despite his dazzling smile, he is distinctly un-starry, without a trace of arrogance. He's very much his own man.

I'D say I'm pretty lucky. People always tell you you're lucky if you say you've got to eat to try and keep some weight on. People always say, "I can't believe you."

But I'm serious. Up until a few years ago, I literally had to eat to keep my weight up. It's true. A lot of guys are like that. People with high metabolisms. And I was playing a lot of sport.

Swimming marathons in the ocean, for instance. Being in the ocean for two hours just going flat out, you burn up a lot of energy. I played Australian rules football, water-polo, I rowed. I competed in surfing and surf life-saving, I was a lifeguard for a long time.

I did that for years when I was a kid, in my teens and early twenties. I'm 38 now. But that wasn't unusual. Australia is a very sporty country. Having the outdoors and the weather, we're very lucky. The beach. And it was fun, we loved it.

I'm still sporty, but not like I used to be. You can't imagine. We used to train for hours and hours. All day. In the surf all day. It was madness, you know. Just insanity. So no wonder I could eat.

I'd go for anything that looked gooey. Eggs, bananas and stuff. Whatever. You'd just burn it up. Three hamburgers? Didn't matter. If you were training that hard, you'd burn if straight off. Straight off. Whoomp! Gone.

But it's changed in the past few years. I stopped playing football when I became an actor. You get a broken nose, which happens all the time, and you can't work. You notice, as you get older, if you have more than two or three beers, you do kind of feel it.

AND I just love food, although sometimes I'm so busy I forget to eat.

I've got an unbelievably sweet tooth. I'd be much cooler if I didn't. I'm the demolisher, I'm terrible. I'll eat your dessert if you're not careful. I don't even care if you've started it. And that's why I exercise a lot.

It just snuck up on me. First time I noticed, I was in LA playing volleyball on the beach, and I thought, "Jeez! What's that?" You know. Round the middle. A little bit. I thought, "Mate, that's you!" I said, "It can't be me." And I said, "Yeah it is. What are you going to do about it?" And of course I thought, "Oh God, catastrophe!"

But it's not much. So although I think of myself as a big guy, I guess, I'm not a BIG guy. I'm pretty tall, 6ft 3ins. I wouldn't know what I weigh, I can't remember. I always think, "Is it 121/2 stone?" Then I think, "No, it's 141/2 stone."

I can't remember my brother's birthday either. I've given up. He'll tell me, "Right, it's the 19th." Or whatever. And I say, "OK, mate, got it." I turn around, walk away and say, "Now what is it again?" I have the same problem with my weight. It's probably 131/2 stone.

And I'm fit, yeah. I work out and have done since 1974. It becomes part of your life. A habit. If I don't, I feel totally sluggish. But a six-pack? Naah! Well, not what I'd call a six-pack. I'd call it more a shopping bag with a six-pack in it.

Most of it bores me out of my brain, it's a mindless waste of an hour. Except that afterwards you feel better. In Ireland last summer, filming Ballykissangel, I tried to keep it up. But you're not getting home until nine or 10 at night. You've got to learn your words, and then think about going to the gym.

But Father Vincent doesn't think about any of that. His physical appearance. That's the good thing about playing a priest. And once I got the robe on, I didn't have to think about it either. I liked that.

I grew up all over. In Melbourne, in the bush. My parents split up when I was nine, so we moved around a fair bit. It was hard for Mum, she had to get a job, put three kids through school. Hats off to her. To anyone who does that. That takes real guts.

I was a real loner. Which is funny, because I'm pretty social now. I'm still a loner, but I'm involved in all these wacky organisations. And a dreamer. I went to uni three different times, had lots of different jobs, and then ran away to sea when I was 21. Worked on oil rigs.

When I was 24, I saw an ad in the paper to audition for drama school. I applied and got in. Much to my surprise. It was intoxicating at first. But after the first year I was frustrated. People sitting around in tights, hugging each other. A lot of it was b******t.

I got work straight away. Then I went to America and worked there off and on. Since I reached that point where I thought, "I've chosen this silly profession, I'm going to stick at it, but I'm not going to get that excited about it." Since that moment, it's been madness. Like the old days swimming up and down the pool again.

I was a bad guy in The Matrix. And then I did Vertical Limit. Ballykay came along last year. It was all very quick. They brought me to London on Monday, gave me the job on Tuesday, I flew back here Wednesday, then back to Dublin on Monday.

The next morning, jet-lagged, at the read-through, there was all the cast, all the directors, and all the writers. And all their mates, and all their mates' mates. And their mates' neighbour from up the road. And his offsider. There must have been ``50 people in the room.

I knew they were all thinking, "Who's this blow-in?" You know, "Who's this guy? This Australian."

But it went all right. And everyone was very welcoming. It was a great experience. And it was good working with Susannah Doyle. She's lovely - we're mates.

In fact, I've just seen her here in Melbourne. Her brother lives here, and her sister was here, and it coincided with the first anniversary of their father's passing. Tony Doyle, who was, of course, Quigley in Ballykay. So they were all together at that time. It would have been silly not to have caught up.

But there's nothing romantic between us. She's got a boyfriend, I've got a girlfriend. Five-and-a-half years. Rebecca is an artist, she's pretty cool. She's excellent. She's alternative, interesting, gorgeous.

I met her in a bar and she put me on probation for weeks. I tried to impress her on our first date. I was post-synching this movie I'd done with Jason Donovan, and I thought, "This will impress her. I'll be on this huge screen."

I THOUGHT, "I'll whir up the technicians beforehand so they're really reverential." I did, but they messed it up by treating me appallingly, telling me I was hopeless!

We don't live together. And we have our moments. Sometimes we're together, sometimes we're not. She's a bit of a hermit, unbelievably independent. We've broken up for a period. But it works somehow. She came to Ireland. Not the whole time. I begged and pleaded and cajoled, as usual. I should get a tape, "Please come." We have fantastic reunions.

I don't know if she's the marrying type. Me, I'd be happy to marry her. Sounds very flip, but it's not. I'd love to have kids, love to. I adore her, I think she's amazing. And she can't stand me, which is intoxicating, of course. So it's perfect! They say, "Treat 'em mean, keep 'em keen." But the joke's getting a bit old now. Come on, lighten up. I'm not that bad a catch, surely?

I'm hoping she'll come to Ireland this year. I'm doing another series of Ballykay, and I'll be back in Dublin in May. I've just started a movie in Sydney, a kind of sexy thriller, After The Rain. So things are looking good.

I want to do as well as I can in my career. Do other things with a more political bent, that I'm pretty passionate about. I'm president of a society called Veg Out, a rather daggy name, but we have two acres of community garden here, land we saved from being developed in a former red-light area.

We asked the council if we could put in a garden before they built a car park or whatever. Now hundreds of people are involved - war veterans, single mums, schoolkids - and the Government can't get us out. The land's worth millions.

I'm very optimistic about Ballykay. And a bit apprehensive. I don't know how prepared I am at my age for any changes it might make to my life. But it's nice to have more money, I can tell you. Hey, I ain't giving it back. No way.

I'm very, very lucky. And very grateful. If I could get my girlfriend to like me more, everything would be wonderful! I always joke about that with her. It's not like we're having a picket-fence relationship. It hasn't been that.

It's been scattered, and all over the world. But you know what? At the end of the day, she's the one. I'd be really bummed if it didn't work out.

Still, I'm alive, I'm healthy, I have work. I live here, the sun's shining. Later on tonight I'm going to a talk we're giving about how to get more out of your garden. I ask you, what more could a guy want?

Chocolate bars make me melt


CHOCOLATE, I could eat a family-sized block, no worries. I love Cadbury's Dairy Milk, and the almond one. And the hazelnut's always a favourite. I can't resist Cadbury's. It's an English brand, isn't it? They make it here, but it tastes slightly different. I was very happy to see that they had it in Ireland, because the chocolate in America is disgusting. Hershey bars? Give me a break! Jeez, they've been deprived all their lives.


I'M not much of a drinker. I've never had a problem, unlike some of my friends who are so boring now they're recovering alcoholics. Just the odd beer, and I've taken to wine recently. But I love margaritas. That crisp lime taste. The tang! Frozen ones? I'll make them any way you want. Can't trust anyone else to do it, can I? The secret is a good tequila, really fresh limes, crushed ice. A bit of Cointreau or Triple Sec. Magic.


I WAS with Rebecca in this vitamin shop that's just popped up in my area, that's now become groovy. Of course I was in there giving them a hard

time. I said, "There was a perfectly good fruit shop here." They said, "No, it wasn't. That's two doors down, it's still there." I said, "Still there? Very good. What was here? Picture framers? Never liked them." Rebecca ended up buying all this stuff. I'll probably never use any of it.


I'VE smoked off and on a bit. When I was at sea, I was on oil rigs, mostly. Intense work, invariably in hot climates, in places like Timor, which people have heard of now, unfortunately. You couldn't stop except for your half-hour lunch break. But you could stop and have a cigarette, that was an acceptable amount of time. You'd be dead on your feet, so I'd stand there smoking. Stupid, isn't it? But I've never got hooked.


I HAVE big arms, although not like they were after six-months mountain-climbing for Vertical Limit. I buy most of my shirts in the States. My tip is Bonds T-shirts from K-Mart, less than pounds 4 each. Not the fancy ones, the plain ones in the plastic bag. In existence since the '20s, they've just become groovy in LA. They're brilliant, well-made. You'd be well advised. Buy yourself a dozen, give them to your friends.


I'M not a fanatic about organic food, but our community garden here in Melbourne, where I've got my patch, is organic. I've got dozens of things. Eight or 10 different types of tomato, a dozen types of lettuce, capsicums, egg-plant, onions, every kind of herb. You should see the chillis! I could eat a bowl of them raw. Mostly others feast on it. I give most of it away, I'm coming and going so much. But I'm very proud of it.


GREAT FRIENDS: Robert with Ballykissangel's Susannah Doyle; FATHER FIGURE: Robert Taylor plays the new priest in popular TV drama Ballykissangel; Picture: JOE MANN
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 2, 2001
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