Robert Guillaume was hesitant to take role as 'Benson': 'It thrusts you back in time'

When Robert Guillaume was first looking at the part of Benson DuBois in the hit TV series Soap, he was apprehensive about playing a black butler to a white family, feeling that it might be a counter-productive role.

“When I got the role of Benson, I was not the happiest camper,” Guillaume reveals in an exclusive sneak peek from ETOnline from Saturday’s Oprah: Where Are They Now? “I had reservations, ’cause you’re serving food, you’re serving the family, and all that sort of thing.”

He goes on to say that he was worried about the role itself, saying, “It thrusts you back in time.” He adds, “It’s as though nothing has changed since 1800.”

Ultimately, however, Guillaume says that he was able to “examine” the role and find a way to make his peace with the character as well as to find a way to make the whole thing work without felling like he was moving backwards.

“I figured out a way to take some of the stench off the idea,” he says.

Guillaume went on to win two Emmy awards for his role as Benson and starred in the show from 1977-79 before going on to play Benson in a spin-off show named after the character.