It was never his plan to be a professional actor. He loved tennis, was an all-around athlete and player in high school, and even had a personal tennis coach. But sometimes life throws opportunities at you in ways you never expect.
Such was the case for Robert Adamson, the 27-year-old who now co-stars in Nick at Nite’s “Hollywood Heights,” on the Nickelodeon Network. While in high school in his hometown of Salt Lake City, he was part of the production of “Othello,” later performing at the Utah Shakespeare Festival. And the acting bug got him.
“I loved everything about it, and I knew this was what I wanted to do,” Adamson said during a telephone interview between takes for “Heights,” which is in the middle of its production season in Los Angeles. “I wanted to make sure I was focused [on starting his acting career], and did it the right way.”
So Adamson applied to and was accepted by the prestigious American Academy of Dramatic Arts in L.A. It’s a school whose alumni include actors Robert Redford, Adrien Brody, Danny DeVito, Gena Rowlands and Paul Rudd. The school offered him a partial scholarship, and Robert said “it was such a major turning point in my life. I didn’t want to be irrational about making the decision to become an actor.”
On “Heights,” he plays Phil, one of a cast of mostly young actors and actresses who are part of a continuing series (like a soap opera). The show is airing 80 episodes over 16 weeks. In fact, the storyline itself is derived from a popular Mexican telenovela called “Alcanzar una Estrella,” and its team of directors and writers all come from the soap opera world. The show reveals the ups and downs of these characters dealing with friends, family, love, and the challenges of pursuing their dreams.
He recently had the chance to work with actor James Franco, who did a 15 episode arc for the series.
“The guy’s just so good—so professional and comes prepared every single day. He has a photographic memory. He can read the pages of dialogue on a script once and have it memorized.”
But Robert will be the first to tell you, there are no “overnight successes” in Hollywood. At one point he worked four part-time jobs to help pay for his schooling at the Academy. The school prohibits its students from working in the business while they’re in class, something Robert applauds. “It’s the right way to do it, and when you do get a chance to work, it makes you appreciate those opportunities even more.”
He’s built a steady resume, working for four years on “Lincoln Heights” for ABC Family, enjoying guest shots on “Cold Case” and “It’s Always Sunny inPhiladelphia,” and starring opposite Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez in a Disney Channel movie titled “The Princess Protection Program.” Movie audiences would also recognize him from his role in “It’s Complicated,” opposite Meryl Streep, Alex Baldwin and Steve Martin.
Even with all that experience, “Heights” came along just as he was preparing to move to Portland to audition for professional theater there. He’d been unemployed for almost a year. As he said, getting work in Hollywood “is a never-ending process.”
Now, he’s enjoying his third month of shooting “Hollywood Heights.” The cast has another five or six weeks of work still ahead of them for the show’s first season.
“I love the way we do this show,” he said. “The characters are very well written and the process of making this show is fascinating. We’re literally reading 90 pages of scripts and shooting a 60-minute show every day. And it’s part of the evolution of TV, where it’s changing entirely and searching for new directions. We’re part of the UTube age, where so much is followed online—something we’ve already seen just in the first couple of weeks the show has aired. It’s a combination of stage acting and TV—a very unique opportunity for all of us.” And it’s something Robert Adamson is thrilled to be a part of in a very big way.
“Hollywood Heights” airs at 9 p.m. EST Monday through Friday on Nickelodeon.