The teen soap-star is gearing up for a movie career, but there are some roles he won't be playing

By Liane Bonin
May 06, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

As if soap-opera life wasn’t hard enough, ”General Hospital” mainstays Luke and Laura will be even more down on their luck than usual this spring: Jonathan Jackson, the 16-year-old who plays their son, Lucky Spencer, is leaving the daytime drama after six years. Jackson, who recently starred in ”The Deep End of the Ocean” with Michelle Pfeiffer, says he’s ditching the daily suds grind to pursue more movie roles. But don’t expect to see him in the next teen slasher pic or sex romp. ”I won’t get involved with a movie that’s a direct slap in the face of God,” says Jackson.

While the world of soaps isn’t exactly a breeding ground for family values, Jackson sees Tinseltown as even less in synch with his Seventh-Day Adventist beliefs. ”Hollywood doesn’t thrive on good values, it thrives on sex and violence, and that’s its nature,” says Jackson, who points to ”Patch Adams” and ”Ever After” as welcome but rare exceptions. So, other than waiting for a big screen version of ”Touched by an Angel,” how does Jackson plan to get work? ”I’m an actor, so I have to play people who believe differently than me,” says the Washington native. ”I would be willing to play a character that was completely unbelieving and anti-God, just as long as that wasn’t the message of the whole movie.”

Off-screen, Jackson figures his pro-Christian outlook combined with his earring-sporting, teen-heartthrob image may give the big guy upstairs a PR boost. ”I firmly believe that God and Jesus are cool, but if people disagree with me, I’m not going to judge them,” says Jackson, who was recently named one of People magazine’s 50 most beautiful people. ”It’s sad that people are so hesitant to talk about Christianity because there are so many hypocrites in the Christian church, saying ‘I believe in Jesus’ while they’re out cheating on their wives and doing drugs.” Sounds like a regular soap opera.