October 27th, 2009  |  Leave a comment

The Jonathan Jackson Interview – General Hospital

Jonathan-Jackson-200x300

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Last week On-Air On-Soaps brought you Greg Vaughan’s bittersweet exit interview from his role as Lucky Spencer on General Hospital. And this week, we bring you Jonathan Jackson’s entrance interview for his much talked about return to GH after more than ten years in the role of Lucky Spencer. In what has been the soap switcheroo of the year, GH made the decision to change course with the character of Lucky, and the timing was right for three-time Daytime Emmy winner Jonathan Jackson to step back into the soaps.

Jonathan’s highly anticipated return happened on yesterday’s episode. His triumphant re-emergence and reintegration into the lives of Luke, Elizabeth and Nikolas starts this week and will carry on through November sweeps and then some! I had the opportunity to chat with Jonathan yesterday on the set of GH to set the record straight on: what went down behind the scenes that facilitated his return and Vaughan’s exit, what is the next beat in the Lucky/Elizabeth/Nikolas storyline, how he decided to come back for the opportunity to work with Tony Geary (Luke) and would love to work again with Genie Francis (Laura), and what superstardom was like at age ten playing the son of daytime’s most recognizable super couple.

Without further adieu…the original ‘cowboy’….Jonathan Jackson!

Listen to the audio:

Play

MICHAEL:

You’re back on General Hospital! We heard and read things, but tell me in your own words how it came about that you came back to GH to reprise the role of Lucky Spencer?

JONATHAN:

It’s been ten years and it was a fast thing from my end. I was up in Washington state and working in different capacities, flying all over for films and doing different projects, and ABC called up out of the blue and said, “The role of Lucky is opening up again and would you be interested in coming back?” I thought about it and thought this could be interesting, because it had been ten years. I talked to my family, and I felt like it might be a fun thing to do.

MICHAEL:

How long have you been back taping at GH?

JONATHAN:

I have been back about 3 weeks.

Lucky and LizMICHAEL:

When you got back to your old digs at the studio, and got into the rhythm of how daytime soaps are done, did it feel like getting on and riding a bike?

JONATHAN:

The best way to describe it is; it feels like a paradox …very familiar, yet brand new. So, tons of people I knew are here, but there are a ton of new faces as well. So I am still learning names. They move now a little quicker than they used to, it was quick before, but it’s even faster now. But all in all, it’s been pretty smooth. In terms of working with the actors, it seems really fluid.

MICHAEL:

Had you stayed in touch with Becky Herbst (Liz)?

JONATHAN:

We got in contact here and there over the years, like when I got married. I think I saw Becky on my first day back, and it has been 10 years since I saw her! It was fun to catch up. Working with Tony Geary and Tyler Christopher (Nikolas) again has been just awesome.

MICHAEL:

I fondly remember the arguments between brothers Lucky and Nikolas, and one where you guys toppled down a flight of stairs!

Nikolas and LuckyJONATHAN:

I was a kid and Tyler was a little older. We had some good physical fights early on, and I liked that. I remember that.

MICHAEL:

So, you and Tony Geary had discussions of your returning to the role of Lucky?

JONATHAN:

We only talked after the fact of everything transitioning in terms of the character of Lucky, and that there was an opening again, and for me to come back. We kept in touch over the years. I have wanted to work with Tony again in any capacity, whether that was theatre or film or back here at GH. I am just excited to work with him in some capacity.

MICHAEL:

Will Luke be calling Lucky “cowboy” again?

JONATHAN:

I think he already did.

MICHAEL:

Genie Francis said in a recent interview in Soap Opera Weekly that she is thrilled you are back. How do you feel now about Genie, and do you wish she was here with you?

Genie FrancisJONATHAN:

Well, yeah I would love to work with Genie again. She is an amazing actress and person. I grew up working with her and Tony, so there is a real connection there. If that were to happen, to work with both of them again, that would be pretty great.

MICHAEL:

Did you ever watch GH, or get a glimpse at it, while you were away from the show? Did you ever see Greg Vaughan’s or Jacob Young’s interpretation of Lucky Spencer?

JONATHAN:

Being honest, my personality is such that if I am not on it then I am on to something else I am working on. In retrospect I am glad, because coming back right now I don’t have any other vision or version of Lucky then what I was doing. Ten years ago growing up on this show is all I had in my head, and as an actor it’s nice to not have to battle the other versions that were going on. I heard a lot of great things about both Greg Vaughan and Jacob Young, but it’s a different sort of thing for me because I started in the role when I was ten years old.

MICHAEL:

Where are your three Daytime Emmys?

JONATHAN:

My Emmys are up north. They were in boxes for the last six years. I just pulled them out last year, because my parents were moving and they were in boxes, and my friend said “you should put them out,” and I said, “OK, I will put them up!”

MICHAEL:

Do you remember the night you won your first Daytime Emmy back in 1995?

JONATHAN:

I do remember winning the first one, and that was so special because Tony and Genie presented it to me. That was exciting! I was twelve years old and I remember getting up on stage and looking out and feeling, “What am I doing here?” I grew up in a small town, and within three months of being in LA I booked the part of Lucky on GH. A year later I was standing up on that stage and it was emotional, because it was so overwhelming.

Steve BurtonMICHAEL:

So Lucky has transitioned from a cop to a detective?

JONATHAN:

Yes. I am now a detective, which is more exciting. There have been some fun scenes already with Steve Burton (Jason) that I have been able to do, and he is so fun to work with. I mean, we did not get to work too much together when I was younger, but we are pretty good friends.

MICHAEL:

Will there be more of Lucky and Jason?

JONATHAN:

I think so. Just the nature of Lucky being a detective now, sort of gives the character freedom to roam into different storylines, which is cool.

MICHAEL:

I am worried about him becoming hooked on drugs again!

JONATHAN:

You know, they have not told me anything. I would love playing something meaty like a strung out drug addict!

MICHAEL:

I mean, you wouldn’t be back if there was not a major emotional story for Lucky?

Luke and EthanJONATHAN:

Oh, yeah! There is going to be great intense material. I don’t know long term, but I do know what the audience knows in terms of Elizabeth and Nikolas. There are only certain limited places they can go, and that will get intense at some point. I look at that as a set- up, where it can go anywhere… and the relationship between Lucky and Luke. Tony and I have had some great scenes that feel like re-establishing something. Again, I did not watch the other versions of Lucky, but for me it’s picking up where I left off ten years ago, but now as an adult. There is a lot of interesting chemistry going on there. Then there is Ethan. I have only had some group scenes with him, and there is a lot of potential for story there…and again, with him being a con man and Lucky being a detective. Lucky is Luke’s son, so he has a dangerous side to him that could potentially take him either way, when it comes to that stuff.

MICHAEL:

Have you worked with Luke’s new wife, Tracy Quartermaine… the amazing Jane Eliot? I know there must be some snarky Tracy/Lucky scene hopefully down the line.

JONATHAN:

I don’t think I have worked with her yet, but I met her and she is sweet.

MICHAEL:

You and your wife, Lisa Vultaggio (Ex-Hannah GH) met here at GH but never acted together. How did the two of you become a couple?

Lisa and JohnathanJONATHAN:

We crossed paths in the hallway of GH.
I was leaving the show and she was coming on to the show. I think it was around 1999. We said, “Hi” to each other a few times, but we had more of a conversation at the Emmys. I think it
was the 1998-1999 Emmys, but we still did not get to know each other until we were off the show. She got to know my family and friends, and she started coming to Bible study that we had at
our house. That was where the friendship grew. I knew her for two and half years in those circles, and then we developed
a friendship. After about two and half years we got engaged.

MICHAEL:

And you’re a daddy!

JONATHAN:

I have two kids: a boy and a girl. Caleb is six and Adora is four. I always felt I was going to be a young dad and I don’t know if it’s because my parents had kids when they were fairly young, but I was excited about it. It has exceeded all my expectations. It’s a lot of work, but it is great.

MICHAEL

Will you be moving to Los Angeles with the family, or commuting back and forth to Washington State?

JONATHAN:

You know, when I lived in Washington I still worked here in LA. So I will be commuting more now regularly, but I will still be going up north. I feel both are home…. LA and Washington.

MICHAEL:

If you were writing the show, and not Bob Guza (head writer, GH), what would you love to see happen to Lucky?

Jonathan Jackson as LuckyJONATHAN:

That’s a great question.
In some ways I have not allowed myself to think that way with a lot of freedom, because I don’t write for
the show. I don’t know… just explore all the intensities that Lucky has.
I am excited about all the tension of him being Luke and Laura’s son, which is what I think is exciting to me about Lucky. He has this wildness and danger of Luke, but he has this purity of Laura, and there is always the contradiction with him. So I always feel like you can take those things to the extremes, and whatever is going to happen between Lucky and Elizabeth is going to be fascinating to me. Building that whole romance years ago and seeing the audience’s connection with it, and it is such a pure love story, but it’s hard right now. Becky and I are tapping into some of those roots that they have, but also you are dealing with ten years of story that they had. So, I am curious how that is going to go down. Sure, drug addictions….

MICHAEL:

Yeah, drug addictions! I am all for that, anything that puts you in misery I am all for. (Laughs) Greg Vaughan was let-go to pave the way for your return. How does that make you feel? Is it bittersweet in some way?

JONATHAN:

For me, it was a tough situation. I was not under any sort of headspace that someone was losing their job; it was that the role was opening up. So I was going to be able to come back into it. It sort of has been confusing how things have been getting out there. I think I met Greg once or twice, and for what I know, he is an absolutely amazing person. So obviously, that is not a very fun angle for me. I wish him the best and that part of this has not been very fun. But it was more of a confusing thing for me coming back and not knowing exactly what was going on, on the other end of things.

Genie and TonyMICHAEL:

Do you feel the pressure from the network and the show, that high expectations are put on you to drive ratings up for the show with your return, and that your caliber of work must be at such a high level to justify them bringing you back?

JONATHAN:

No, actually I don’t. Part of that is I kept my headspace out of the whole thing. I have not watched the show for ten years and so I am not in that realm of it. I think also it was a blessing coming in at ten years old as Luke and Laura’s son. That was the biggest thing in daytime soaps you could possibly be thrown into, and I was too young to understand it, which was great. I would have people coming up to me going, “Do you have any idea? Do you have any idea?” and I would say, “No I don’t.” But for me, I was working with this person named Tony and this person named Genie. They are the best people I ever met and they are incredible. I just grew up working and focusing on all the acting and all of that. Coming back feels like a similar thing. You know, I was doing The Sarah Connor Chronicles recently and I was playing Kyle Reese, which was an iconic character from the Terminator films, and it was sort of like the same issue: “How do you fill those shoes?” You don’t. The films are the films and you are not going to fill in Michael Biehn’s take on the character. He made the role. So you focus on putting your own spin on it. For me, I am just really focusing on what is happening right now. I do feel people are excited to have me back as Lucky and to see what that is.

MICHAEL:

James Franco is coming to GH! Will you get to work with him?

Lucky returnsJONATHAN:

Yeah, I will have a chance to work with him and I am excited about it. I have seen his work and he is great.

MICHAEL:

If we were to give a good closing teaser for Lucky’s return and upcoming story, what would you say to your fans?

JONATHAN:

Look forward to Lucky finding out about Nikolas and Elizabeth. I am sure that is going to happen, but I don’t know when. But when it does it’s going to be very intense, I am sure.

  1. Doe says:

    I liked your interview with Lucky and I happy he has returned to GH. He looks great and was very honest with you. As I have been watching the show forever, it’s like seeing your little boy grow into a man. I like his style of acting plus he brings a sensitivity and sweetness to the role. Great interview!

    Reply

  2. fawnrescue says:

    I AM SOO EXCITED THE BEST lUCKY IS bACK!!

    Reply

  3. Dee says:

    I seriously enjoyed this interview and I cannot possibly express how thrilled I am that Jonathan has returned to this role. I have waited a decade, literally a DECADE for Lucky Spencer to be recognizable to me again…and now he is. On October 27, 2009, Lucas Lorenzo Spencer, Jr. came home. Jonathan puts a unique stamp on the character that cannot be duplicated because, he doesn’t just “play” Lucky, he BECOMES Lucky.

    Thank you, Michael, for doing this interview and thank you, Jonathan, for returning. You have been sorely missed.

    Reply

  4. Andy says:

    I think JJ is a fine actor, but I can’t even look at him without thinking of the shameful way General Hospital treated Greg Vaughan.

    Reply

  5. Dee says:

    I revisit this interview every so often and, after Jon’s recent scenes this past Monday and Tuesday, I decided to do so again.

    No disrespect to Greg Vaughan, but I do not think of him at all when I see Jonathan onscreen. I’m too busy falling in love with Lucky Spencer again.

    Greg Vaughan was NEVER Lucky to me. That’s not a criticism. It’s simply the way I felt. He played a character named Lucky, but as far as being Lucky Spencer and all that meant? No. Never. He NEVER embodied the character. He NEVER made the character his own. He read the lines and played the scenes, but he never went deeper than that.

    Only Jonathan has cracked Lucky’s psyche and knows what makes this character tick. Lucky Spencer was tailor made for him and he wears that character like a second skin. When I look at Jonathan, I see Lucky. I see the boy I fell in love with and the man I always imagined he’d become.

    I am so glad to have Lucky Spencer back and I will be eternally grateful to Jonathan Jackson for bringing him back to me…for bringing him back to all of us. Always.

    Reply

  6. Debi says:

    Thank you so much for this wonderful interview with Jonathan. I enjoyed it very much.

    I am a long time GH fan (I started watching it in 1965!), and have had many favorite characters, (Jessie Brewer is one of the many), and Lucky Spencer. I thank the lucky stars above for bringing Jonathan Jackson back to where he belongs! I appreciated what Greg Vaughn and Jacob Young tried to do with the character, but for me, there was always something missing from their performances.
    Now that Jonathan is back, I can see what what was lacking before. Commitment to the passion and intensity that IS Lucky. It’s one thing to just say the lines, but another thing to actually FEEL what your saying, and in turn convey that feeling to the viewers.

    “I do feel people are excited to have me back as Lucky and to see what that is.”

    Welcome back JJ, welcome back!!

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