Jonathan Jackson talks about his 'GH' return and his onscreen family
We talked to Jonathan Jackson the day after his big return to General Hospital in the role he originated 16 years ago. Read what he has to say about playing the now-adult Lucky, keeping the chemistry going, and his hopes for reconnecting with Genie Francis.
Were you prepared for the fanfare about your return?
The fans have been extremely gracious and kind over the years. I’m always shocked and amazed that 10 years off the show and I’ve still got people coming up and talking about it. So I knew there was a great deal of enthusiasm and support but I feel very grateful for all of that.
What’s it been like to be back on the show?
Having the 10 years off doing films and other things… it’s a really interesting feeling coming back and having that freshness about everything. There’s still a sense of wonder and sense of mystery, which is great.
You’re playing Lucky as an adult with a lot of history now. How is that for you?
When it comes to Lucky, it’s very visceral for me and very instinctive. So much of the character was what he was – the offspring of Luke and Laura. So much of who he is was based on the seeds that were planted from his father and his mother. For me as an actor, I don’t get too caught up in the intellectual side of a story, so much as, when you play a character day in and day out for years like I did, it’s like a second skin almost. It’s very close to you. So walking back in, I just brought who I am now as an adult into it. And it just felt really smooth and comfortable.
I think that Lucky’s always been a paradox and a contradiction a little bit because he had the edge and the wildness and the rebellion of Luke but he also had the purity and the innocence of Laura. Even when he was helping Elizabeth through the rape and there was the purity and the romance, there was always this sort of con-man side of Lucky that came from his father that was always present. So I still feel like the foundation of the character is working from the contradiction and tension of those two realities within. Another thing as an actor is that you can’t act information and you can’t act history. So in terms of drug addiction and all these other things, those are things that exist, whether I relate them or not because that’s just what happened. So unless it’s something specific in terms of dealing with the addiction. I just take that and say yeah, that’s what happened and that’s what he’s gone through, and that’s that. But he can’t really perform that reality.
Do you pay attention to the fan reactions? And are you concerned about winning over new fans who don’t know you as Lucky?
It’s a delicate balance. I’m very grateful and appreciative to the fans, and you want to stay connected. But at the same time you don’t want to get caught up in what other people are thinking or saying about it. I don’t really search it out for myself. I just want to focus on the work and what’s in front of me and just enjoy that.
I can’t really worry about [winning over new watchers] in a way because it’s totally out of my control … I’m coming with the strength of originating the character and working with Tony and Genie at a young age in sort of defining who Lucky was and is. I guess I’m more focused on the connection I do have with the character than the transitions that people might have to undergo to see me as the character.
What’s it been like working with Rebecca Herbst and Tony Geary again?
It’s been amazing. Working with Becky is incredible. She’s extremely gifted and she has a lot of depth. The chemistry that we have together is very strong and very good with the romance, the love story with Lucky and Elizabeth, so that’s always gonna be there. She’s a wonderful person as well. And working with Tony’s been incredible. It’s a blast. He’s one of the most enjoyable people I’ve ever worked with. When it comes to chemistry with actors, I always feel chemistry is not something that comes and goes. You either have it or you don’t. So I feel like I could have been away for 15 or 20 years and stepped on the stage and Tony and I would have been right there with each other.
[With Tony] there’s a very close relationship there that’s bigger than the show.
Are you hoping for a reunion with your onscreen mom Genie Francis?
I would absolutely love to work with Genie again. That would be a privilege and an honor. I think it would sort of complete the Spencer family dynamic. The actress playing Lulu (Julie Berman) is fantastic, Nathan (Parsons), who’s playing [Luke’s newest other son] Ethan, is great as well. There’s a great dynamic with the Spencers. Having Genie come back would be incredible.
[Ethan’s presence] opens up some interesting avenues in terms of where Lucky and Ethan will go as brothers. The relationship with Nicholas being his half-brother was a fascinating arc to play when I as younger and so seeing how they play this out with Ethan is really interesting. There’s a lot of potential there.