Maxwell's a star... but he's not from the Gorbals

YOU would have to try really hard not to like Maxwell Caulfield.

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Maxwell Caulfield is in town with musical classic Singin' in the Rain
Maxwell Caulfield is in town with musical classic Singin' in the Rain

It's not just that the actor is friendly and eager to chat for as long as it takes.

This is a man who chose his stage name, Caulfield, from the lead character in JD Salinger's novel Catcher in the Rye.

And he once made up a story about being born in the Gorbals, simply to get press attention.

"I was a young actor at the time and working in theatre in New York," recalls the former Dynasty and The Colbys star.

"I was asked to fill in some personal details and I didn't want to write that I was born in Derbyshire in a middle class home so I wrote I was Scottish and came from the Gorbals."

He adds, grinning: "I had this idea it would somehow make me seem exciting. But of course that wasn't a clever thing to do."

Couldn't he at least have followed in film legend David Niven's footsteps in declaring he was born in the romantic Highlands, the son of a chieftain?

"If I'd had any real imagination I would have," he says, laughing.

Caulfield laughs a lot in conversation, clearly a happy man. He's certainly happy about his latest role, starring as film studio boss RF Simpson in the touring production of Singin' In The Rain, based on the classic film.

"I just love it," he says of the show, "although I don't get to sing and dance. That's a real pity but the show is great fun."

Caulfield first acted aged seven in the 1967 film, Accident, written by Harold Pinter but to get his Equity card as a teenager he chose a more informal route to the stage.

"I was a stripper," he says of his stint at London's Windmill Theatre. "It was a means to an end. What I remember about that experience was one day having an argument with a colleague on stage. We were acting out this weird relationship tangle on stage, me and this girl and a guy, which turned into a brawl when they both turned on me, and the fight overflowed on to the street outside."

The naked actors were given their P45s the next day.

"What I remember are the Japanese and German tourists all looking bewildered at us."

Caulfield was able to work in the States thanks to his American stepfather, a former marine. And inspired by his acting idol James Dean, he became a huge success on Broadway in Class Enemy, winning a Theatre World Award.

IN 1980, the 21-year-old married actress Juliet Mills, who is 18 years his senior.

And such were the actor's talent (and good looks) in 1982 he landed the role of Michael Carrington in the American musical film Grease 2, opposite Michelle Pfeiffer.

Several movies followed, then television came calling.

"The Colbys was fun," says the 54-year-old. "There was no b****ing. We had no reason to be at each others' throats; we were all swimming in mullah! We were living the dream, driving Ferraris, wearing Armani suits and I had two 6ft tall women on each arm."

When the big American TV roles dryed up, Caulfield came back to the UK where he's starred in series such as Casualty in 2003, Holby City and Emmerdale, in which he played a bigamist who was shot dead by second wife Natasha Wylde (Amanda Donohoe).

"I've loved the variety," he says of his career. "I love the chance to meet new people."

He also loves time spent at home in Los Angeles with his wife. "I really do, but the time apart serves to keep the relation-ship fresh," he says.

The couple enjoy a great lifestyle. "We were invited to holiday in the South of France with the composer Leslie Bricusse this year," he says. "And we discovered the next door neighbour was Rod Stewart.

"I'd met Rod a few times before and we got on well, and so we settled down to watched the World Cup Final together. It was a lovely afternoon."

Even though Caulfield made up his Gorbals story, he does have Scottish family - his grandfather was a Findlater - and he's looking forward to coming to Glasgow.

"I've been told the Glaswegian audiences are the most vocal of all," he says."

Singin' In The Rain is a spectacular production which uses half a mile of flexible pipe work, a 10 tonne water tank and a water system that creates a downpour from above.

It also stars Coronation Street'sVicky Binns, James Leece, Amy Ellen Richardson and Stephane Anelli.

Caulfield adds: "I'm sure the audiences will love the show. It has the right balance of humour, romance and drama. And some fantastic dancing. What's not to like?"

l Singin' In The Rain, the Theatre Royal, until August 23.

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