Jonathan Jackson talks about that 'General Hospital' tearjerker death
When I told Jonathan Jackson that he’d made me cry — twice! — with his performance as a father whose child died on Monday’s General Hospital, he wasn’t exactly wracked with guilt about it.
“I sort of want to apologize but I’m not sure I should. It was kind of what we were going for,” says Jackson, who in 2009 returned to the character of Lucky Spencer, son of famed Luke and Laura, which he’d originated back in 1993.
The tears flowed pretty easily over the last few days as 4-year-old Jake, Lucky’s child in every way that mattered (except for that tricky biological part), succumbed to injuries he sustained when he was hit by a car last week. (The hunt is now on to find the driver.) Lucky, his ex-wife/Jake’s mother Elizabeth (Rebecca Herbst), and Jake’s bio-dad Jason (Steve Burton) were already at the end of their ropes with fear and sadness as they roamed the halls of GH waiting to hear how the boy’s surgery went. But they each brought home the loss with their reactions to news that Jake was brain dead: Burton’s stone-cold hitman dissolved into tears; Jackson’s face crumpled and then tried to rebuild itself; and Herbst backed away from him, not wanting to hear the news until she and Jackson held on to each other and then sank to the floor in their grief.
Was that a hard scene to film?
There was absolutely insane amounts of intensity that day. Everyone was feeling it. It was a very heavy feeling on the set. It was filmed in one day, from morning til late afternoon. The filming of it went on and on. We had to go there, to that [emotional] place, and keep coming back to it after breaks. In terms of sustaining the emotion, it was probably the hardest day I ever had. I was pretty wiped out by the end of it. We all were.
How long before filming did you find out about it and what did you do to prepare?
We knew for about three weeks before filming. How we all reacted was pretty similar. That sense of not really wanting to go there. You instinctively know how intense it would be and what it would take out of you. It wasn’t something we jumped up and down saying, “Yay, we get to do this.” We were just preparing ourselves to do it.
Did you and Rebecca Herbst (who recently escaped being let go from the show) do anything special to prepare for your scene?
We’ve worked together for so long, when I was a teen and now again… it’s all just kind of there. All available. She’s such a great actress. So willing to go there. We didn’t need to do anything special.
I know it’s been quite the reunion working with her again. The same with your onscreen dad Anthony Geary?
Getting to work with Tony was a huge factor for me coming back to the show. I’d kept in touch with him while I was away and had always wanted to find a way to work with him again but never imagined it’d be like this. It’s a dream come true for me. He’s not only one of the best actors on the planet, he’s also a really close friend. And the experience to be 11 years old working with him, and then getting to come back and have that father-son relationship as an adult has been great.
Where would you like to see their relationship go?
It would be cool if Lucky and Luke did some international espionage type work together. Lucky feels the most free and like himself when he’s doing stuff like that. They’ve had Luke and Lucky pitted against each other for a while, so it’d be nice to pair them up. But we (actors) spend a lot of our time not overthinking things like that because we have no control over it.
So you can’t say when the truth will come out that you are actually the father of one of Elizabeth’s other sons, Aiden?
I have no idea the time frame or what they’re doing with that. That’s sort of an inevitable thing to come out. It’ll be interesting to see how that changes things in terms of Lucky’s relationship with Elizabeth and whether it has that sort of emotional impact. There’s a lot of potential there, with the triangle between Lucky, his girlfriend Siobahn (Erin Chambers), and Elizabeth.
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