Rob Stone: I got the role on the show while I was going to school at USC. I came out from Dallas, Texas (where I grew up) and I didn't know anyone in L.A., so it was pretty intimidating. I had started acting in Dallas doing a lot of theatre since I was 13, mostly at a place called the Dallas Theatre Center. It was just a lot of fun, so I kept it up throughout school. I had also always been a big film buff. Anyway, I auditioned and was accepted to USC's BFA Drama conservatory and when I was accepted, that's what brought me west.
Once I was at USC, I was in several plays and an agent happened to be in the audience of one of them and asked if I needed representation. Being the naive, ignorant kid from Texas, I was very cautious and didn't even call him back right away. Once I did, and realized it was legitimate and not my friends playing a practical joke on me, I met with him and started going out on television and film auditions. Belvedere was actually the first regular series role I ever auditioned for so I was extremely lucky. I had auditioned for and gotten some guest spots and small film roles, but Belvedere was the first pilot I went out on.
The first audition for the show was just a big room full of people, almost like a cattle call. From there, I was called back several times and there were less and less other actors. Then I read for the production company (20th Century Fox) and finally the Network (ABC). By that time, it was down to me and 2 other guys, and at the network audition, I met and read with Christopher Hewett for the first time. He had already been cast, and I'll never forget how kind and generous he was to me. It was obviously a pressure-filled situation, and we were reading in front of all the ABC execs. He was just really friendly and made me feel immediately at ease.
Rob: It sounds very cliche and is overused, but the only way to describe it was that we were a big family. The week we shot the pilot (the first episode), Brice was seven and came up to me and the first thing he said was "I've always wanted a brother, and now I'm so happy because you're my brother." And from that point on, Brice was a little brother to me. And the rest of the cast and crew were all just as close. When we were in our 2nd or 3rd season, one of the assistant directors said," Enjoy this, because it's extremely rare. Most sets are full of egos, problems, etc, but this group of people is really special." And he was right.
As for playing Kevin, I had a lot of fun. Anyone who has seen our show knows it could get pretty silly and sometimes Kevin would be in a chicken suit or dressed like an Amish to impress a girl or whatever, but as wacky as it got, I tried to keep the humor somewhat grounded in reality. My feeling was that it's got to be honest. Otherwise, the audience won't care or be emotionally invested in the characters.
Besides the people, the best part of doing the show was taping it in front of a live audience each week. It was like doing a play (except with cameras), and coming from the stage, I loved having that energy and immediate feedback.
the show ended, it was bittersweet. None of us ever imagined it would be
on for six seasons, so we were very fortunate to be able to do something
we loved for so many years. Having said that, shooting that last episode
was very emotional for all of us.
Rob: Yes, I've always had a fascination with filmmaking and movies since I was a kid. During the Belvedere run, I would spend every hiatus (break) writing and directing these little short films. That was a fantastic chance to learn. And everyone on the show knew of my interest in directing and were totally supportive. So it was really their idea to have me direct one of the final episodes. And Uecker was hilarious that week, constantly busting my chops and calling me "Mr. Big-Shot Director". The crew and other cast members picked up on that as well, so it made for a very fun experience.
Rob: Good eye! Wasn't that ridiculous? The truth is, the studio was very supportive of me directing, however, they said they couldn't pay me both a directing fee as well as my acting salary. So I told them they didn't have to pay me as an actor that week. However, because of union and guild rules, I couldn't do that. If I physically appeared in the episode, they'd be legally obligated to pay me as an actor. Then when I saw the guy in the gorilla suit, I asked if I could do it since no one would see me, but because of other silly guild restrictions, I couldn't--Ahh, Hollywood.
Rob: I got a big chuckle out of it. You just have to keep a sense of humor, and this was so far off the scales, you just had to laugh. From what I've heard, he's had a lot of people come up to him backstage at concerts and ask him the same question.
Gerry: You have made a pretty successful career as a director since Mr. Belvedere. What made you concentrate on documentaries? Any particular project that sticks out as particularly memorable?
Rob: I've been very fortunate getting to work on some really great projects with a lot of wonderful people. The first documentary/special I did was Blue Angels: Around the World At the Speed of Sound, hosted by Dennis Quaid. I've always had a fascination with aviation, and this was a chance to travel around the world (literally) with the legendary flight team. That was just the trip of a lifetime, and the film has been playing on A&E and the History Channel for years. Hearing how much people have enjoyed it has been extremely gratifying. Another documentary project that was unique was One Vision, which was a documentary about filmmaking. Being a huge film buff, it was great to interview and pick the brains of some really wonderful directors such as Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese, Sidney Pollack, Penny Marshall,and many others.
Rob: Currently, I am producing a two hour special on the Air Force Thunderbirds for the History Channel. The special follows the team during their 50th Anniversary season and also celebrates the 100th Anniversary of powered flight.
Rob: I should and plan to create a site, however, I never seem to have time to do it. In the meantime, people can always write or get info about the company by writing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
thanks for the interview and for doing such a great job on the Mr. B site!
And a BIG thanks to everyone out there who's reading this or who watched
and hopefully enjoyed the show!!