25 years later: Genie Francis on Luke-and-Laura mania
25 years later: Genie Francis on Luke-and-Laura mania. The actress, who recently returned to ''General Hospital,'' remembers growing up on the set
She’s older and wiser, but Genie Francis is still very much beloved by all those who watched her character Laura grow up on General Hospital and saw her marry that rascal Luke 25 years ago. After a four-year absence, she rejoined the show yesterday (Oct. 26), awaking Laura from a coma just in time to help her flailing onscreen children and celebrate the 25th anniversary of the soap opera wedding that made the cover of Newsweek .
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What do you remember about yourself back at the height of the Luke-and-Laura hoopla, and how is that person different today?
GENIE FRANCIS: I was a little girl. I was such a child in so many ways, living this very adult life way before my time, and really basically just dying of loneliness. There was nobody else my age on the set. And I didn’t really fit in at all with people my own age, because you just get shot out of a cannon in terms of the way you live your life. I know it was a very exciting time for a lot of people, but there’s nothing in me that wants to go back to that time in my life. I’m very happy where I am today. Now I have the most wonderful marriage [to actor/director Jonathan Frakes]. We’re coming up on 20 years here. We have two beautiful children, ages 9 and 12. I have a terrific life. I’ve got good friends. I’ve got a new shop I run [an interior design store called the Cherished Home].
But I also remember some fabulous things…. The people who were running the show at that time were really passionate about storytelling. It was a fabulous experience. And so exciting. I didn’t ever want to leave the set. If I could have lived on set it would have been better for me. That was where I was comfortable and where I was happy. It just was when I left the set that I was very unhappy, because there was nothing [for me]. It was in many ways the best and worst at the same time.
Do you remember the turning point for the fame?
We all knew we were somehow part of something magical. I, being so young, didn’t realize how big it was. But I certainly knew that there was nothing more exciting in life than going to work on that set.
I didn’t even understand the power of Newsweek at that time. I’d heard of the magazine, but I certainly didn’t know how rare it would be for us to be put on the cover. The other people around me, like [then-GH producer] Gloria Monty, everybody knew this was major. I sort of understood and sort of didn’t. Then of course when we started making appearances and there would be big crowds of screaming people, I got it. That was sort of profound.
What would you say is your favorite scene from those days?
That’s hard, because I have so many from that particular period of time. Everything that we were doing every day was so much fun. I have to say I really loved dancing in the department store. Luke and Laura supposedly stayed overnight in [fictional store] Wyndham’s and tried on the clothes and danced around. That was really, really fun because we went on location to a real department store. And I always liked when we did party scenes and got to be with everybody in the cast. I loved the Christmas scenes too, because it really felt like that was my family. Like I said, the times on the set were a joy.
Do you and Tony Geary [who plays Luke] stay in touch?
Yes, we do. It’s been so nice to work with him again. It’s been nice to see Jane Elliott [Tracy Quartermaine] again. I just grew up with all these people. They’re like my family.