How We Met: Patricia Quinn and Robert Stephens

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Robert Stephens, 62, won the 1993 Olivier Award for his portrayal of Falstaff with the Royal Shakespeare Company. He has been married three times - most famously to the actress Maggie Smith from whom he was divorced in 1975. He has four children and one grandchild. He is currently starring as King Lear with the RSC in Stratford. For 17 years he has lived in London's Primrose Hill with actress Patricia Quinn, who played Magenta in The Rocky Horror Show and the film, The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Born in Ireland, Patricia Quinn has been married once and has a grown-up son.

PATRICIA QUINN: The night Robert came backstage at The Rocky Horror Show, he was only interested in talking to "Mr Transvestite" Tim Curry. It was so cramped he couldn't have slipped through unnoticed but we were never introduced.

Later, when I was filming The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Michael White, the producer, gave me a script of Murderer, a new Tony Shaffer play he was casting, with Robert Stephens in the lead. When I read my first line it didn't sound like me at all. I was going to cancel the audition when my American au pair started laughing. She was reading Murderer. "Is it really that funny?" I asked her. "Yes," she said. "You should go for it."

The audition was at the Fortune Theatre. I knew I was the last one on the heap - they'd seen every actress in town and I hadn't even read the play properly. Mr Stephens was already on stage. He had a habit of looking at you over his spectacles. At the time it was quite intimidating. I was obviously no good and afterwards, I thought how silly I'd been to be so casual about it. I really wanted that part - which probably had something to do with having just met Mr Stephens. Michael and Robert were so desperate, they hired me on the strength of The Rocky Horror Show.

When we met, Robert was entirely free. I was happily married with a wonderful son of five, and a lover. I was about to embark on a romance with Meatloaf who told me he'd been voted the best kisser in his Texas high school. The attentions of Robert Stephens were the very last thing I needed. I was exhausted. How would I fit him in? During rehearsals, Robert told me a lot about himself. We'd have a drink over terribly intimate conversations. He talked about how his marriage to Maggie Smith had broken up and his different romances. I thought, why is he telling me all this?

When the play closed, he went to New York and I had work at the Royal Court. He wrote and phoned and kept asking me to come to New York. I'd never been before so I decided to go for a week. By then, our relationship was out in the open. I was terribly in love with Robert. He was a glorious, wonderfully wild and glamorous man who certainly knew how to show a girl a good time.

I came home to play Lady Macbeth in Bristol, while Robert was working in Canada. He phoned all the time and warned me that he'd come to Bristol. One day the bad penny turned up. Who was I going to live with? Looking back, it was all quite potty. You went from job to job, you were young, foolish, but you really knew you were alive. Fortunately, my director husband had fallen in love with a girl in Bristol so Robert moved in with me in London. It was quite a commitment for him, after his broken marriages, to live with the mother of a five-year-old boy.

I was upset when he had to go to Los Angeles to do Pygmalion, so this time I kept phoning him. The day before he came home, he asked me to meet him at the airport. After hugs and kisses I saw that he'd got quite fat and unattractive in California and said he could only stay with me for a few days. I was trying to protect myself because I'd had to get on with my life without him and was frightened of him coming in and out of it and hurting me. I was working and earning money and the first night he came home, I had a dinner date. "That's all right," he said, "I'll come to the pub for a drink with you after the theatre. …