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Robert Gavin Interview

Mr. Gavin kindly agreed to the following e-mail interview with me to which he responded on 12/5/99.  Like the David Gerrold interview elsewhere on this site, there is some small bit of duplication of answers to these questions...not being a live interview, I tried to ask what I thought would cover all the bases on these subjects.

Thank you, Robert!

--Clayton Barr



Clayton Barr: Did you have any particular scenes to perform during the audition for the role of Kevin Porter?  Can you describe them?  Do you know how many actors tried out for the part?
 
Robert Gavin: During the audition, I read scenes from the first episode "Tasha." I was very nervous and excited, and it showed! I made a few mistakes, but I asked the casting director if I could start over. He agreed. I was truly grateful to the casting director. There were about 1000 or more actors who auditioned for the part of Kevin Porter. One my best friends, at the time, Bobby Jacoby was the other actor who almost received my part. It was narrowed down to Bobby and me. He later played the Knight in one of the episodes.
 
CB: Why do you think you got the role over other actors?
 
RG:  My looks! I was 19 years old and looked 14. I also looked like the boy next door; a cute teenager. They probably thought I would make the cover of several teen magazines too. Thanks to my boyish good looks, I made it into a few. My mother told me that I was good looking at the time and I am taking her word for it.  But, I don't think I was talented as an actor. I never tried hard enough. And, I could never memorize my lines. That is the key to success as an actor, in my humble opinion.
 
CB: In talking to you on location years ago, I recall that you were the only one of the main actors who had watched the original Land of the Lost.  Had you seen it before landing the role of Kevin Porter or was it a sort of research into the "mythology" of the show after the fact? Are there elements of the original show you wish had been added to the '90's version?
 
RG: I used to watch the reruns when I was a child before school. I never did any research into the first show for the part of Kevin Porter. I was just told by many people that the first show broke many records for popularity in the 70's. Anyway, I never put much thought into what elements the 70's show should have been added to the new show. That was not my job or concern. I was just thrilled to be working as an actor, at the time, and concentrating on my job at hand.
 
CB: What was the most difficult thing about working on a special effects intensive series?  Was it difficult to act against actors who were in non-human costume?
 
RG: Since I was a child, I have always enjoyed fantasy-based movies, TV shows, literature, etc. I truly have an imaginative mind.  As a result, it was very easy to work with the special effects and the actors who wore the costumes. It was more difficult for the actors wearing the costumes than I because of heat and exhaustion they experienced. But, they never complained and did really well as actors and human beings.
 
CB: How much involvement did Sid and Marty Krofft have on the show?
 
RG: A lot. They created the show. However, Mr. Randy Pope was the man in charge. He had a lot to do with the success our show had, and he worked day and night. He reminds me a a lot of my current girlfriend's father.  When you look at the word business man in the dictionary, I see five people that I idolize in the business world: 1. Michael Eisner, 2. Jerry Jones, 3. Randy Pope, 4. Warren Buffet, 5. Michael Dell.  The definition: A dedicated and hard worker who has a unique vision and can articulate it well through actions and sweat (mentally), and also loves his job as if they were his children and / or wife. Anyway, Mr. Randy Pope was more of a father figure and really encouraged and motivated me to be a better actor and human being. He was always there for me as a friend and that was very special; this was very rare in "Hollywood." To this day, I still telephone him and he just listens to me for hours, and still gives me good advice too. What a true gentleman!
 
CB: Supervising producer Randy Pope has said that the original concept of the show included having the jungle girl (Christa) be an older Holly Marshall from the '70's series.  Do you know anything about how that was going to be worked in and why the idea was abandoned?  There are also rumors that a prime-time holiday special was considered during the second season.  Do you have any knowledge of that?
 
RG: There were a lot of rumors, but none came true. I sincerely believe that they intended to do such shows and plots, but ABC and Disney probably declined. You can't cry over spilt milk now... 
 
CB: Why did the series not return for a third season?
 
RG: I was never told and never asked. I was taught very early in life if "they" wanted you to know, "they" would tell you. At any rate, since the show was canceled, this allowed me to go back to college and graduate from USC.
 
CB: Do you still stay in touch with anyone from the show?
 
RG: I wish I could. I had special relationships with several of the cast and crew. Especially, Bobby Porter and Ed Gale. They were my best friends on the show. In addition, I very much enjoyed working with the sinister sleestak "Tom," as well as Shannon Day. She was a very special friend.
 
CB: What keeps you busy these days?  Are you still involved in the entertainment industry?
 
RG: No I am not. I have read at Amazon.com that I am working as an editor for several films. To be honest, I have never worked for anyone but myself. Well, unless you count acting in movies, commercials, or TV shows as working for somebody. Then, I have worked for someone else. Currently, I invest in several companies, both public and private. I am currently working on my 2nd "real" business as CEO. I have been working on this project for more than 2 years. I figure I have another 1-2 years before I am fully operational. Top secret...I also have a nonprofit organization (Conical Cornea Foundation) that means the world to me. I enjoy helping others and making them feel hopeful and loved. However, there are some sad times as well. But, the support my organization brings to people all over the world gives me laughter, pleasure, and genuine warmth. Importantly, money and acting never resembled the joy I feel every night because of my organization. I am truly helping others and their lives!
  
CB: Has there been any talk about a reunion of the cast for a movie or special or even a convention appearance?
 
RG: No.  I have heard that Sid and Marty Krofft are touring the fan club circuit with some cast members from their 70's shows. But, I would not do a reunion because I do not want to be known as a "washed-up" child star. I never entered acting to be a star. I only did it because it looked fun and it paid very well. I never intended acting to be a long term career. I was always interested in the business and entrepreneurship ever since I was 9 years old. I used to subscribe to the "Entrepreneur Magazine," and then I would order their merchandise and sell it to my neighbors. I have started more than 20+ business since I was 9 years old. When I worked on Land of the Lost, I would always ask Mr. Randy Pope and Mr. Marty Krofft questions that pertained to the business aspect of the show. Mr. Marty Krofft always replied that, "Show business is a business, hence the word business." I have always remembered that sentence. Mr. Marty Krofft was a brilliant businessman and Mr. Sid Krofft was a truly creative genius.  
 
CB: Have you collected any of the Land of the Lost merchandise such as the various Kevin Porter action figures?
 
RG: I currently have the action figure that they made of me, as well as the board game. I know the company Tiger made a lot of toys, but I was too cheap to purchase them at the time. I wish I could get them now.
 
CB: Any anecdotes you care to share about the days on the set of Land of the Lost?
 
RG: It taught me responsibility and gave me insight to who I really was as a human being. It also allowed me to mature quicker than my piers. I worked with about a hundred people a day, who were two-three times my age. At that time, I was very young and immature. When I first arrived on the set, a gentleman told me that it cost ABC $150,000 a day to film this show. Next, I thought, this is no playground and I suddenly grew up quicker than, anyway. I also never missed a day of work. I never complained. I never talked back. I always took orders like an officer, and I never acted like a star. You know why? That is what they paid me for- to be a professional, and that is why I had such a great working relationship with ABC and the cast and crew. We were one great family, which is one thing I truly miss and will always remember. I even have the footage on my camcorder. However, I do not miss show business, but I miss the camaraderie on the set. One thing I have learned in life, is that you sometimes have to pack the luggage and move on, but ALWAYS enjoy the luggage inside!