Jonathan Jackson Returns to General Hospital
by Michael Logan September 29, 2009 11:52 AM EST
In a jaw-dropping switcheroo, Greg Vaughan is out as General Hospital’s Lucky Spencer and Jonathan Jackson—the actor who originated the role to extraordinary acclaim—has agreed to step back in. Jackson hits the air October 27. Though the decision to re-cast seemingly came out of nowhere, the official word from ABC is that Vaughan "has decided to leave GH and vacate the role to explore new opportunities." Vaughan, on the other hand, has Twittered to his fans that he got the axe. Here, in a TV Guide Magazine exclusive, the Emmy-winning Jackson talks about his sudden return to Port Charles.
This is stunning—and very welcome—news! You made an indelible mark on the role, and the show.
I’m sort of in a whirlwind. This is pretty much out of the blue. It’s been 10 years since I left the show but in some ways it doesn’t feel like that at all. When I [got the offer] from GH I talked about it with my family and it felt like the right time to return. [Jackson is married to former GH star Lisa Vultaggio. They have a son, 6, and a daughter, 4.] I also talked it over with Tony Geary [Lucky’s dad Luke], who was really positive about this. Our relationship goes back a long way. That’s one of the biggest motivators in my coming back—getting to work with Tony again. It feels like a very exciting adventure.
Had there been previous offers to return to GH?
It had been contemplated at different times over the years. But it never really felt right until now. I start work October 1, then have a break, a period where I’m transitioning and moving the family down to L.A. I’ve been living in Washington state for quite a while—six or seven years now—and fly to L.A. for work. But in order for me to be available to GH as much as they’ll need me, we’ll all be moving there. It’s important to keep the family together.
Your last big gig was your recurring role on Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. What’s life like balancing L.A. and Washington? What did moving there do for your soul?
It’s a good balance. I grew up there. My family’s there. After we got married, it felt like it was time to get some breathing room, get into a different headspace. Lisa had been acting for probably 16 years and felt like a new beginning. The people in Washington are wonderful. It’s been great to have that network of support. I like L.A. The restaurants are wonderful. But there is a certain tone to the town. Everybody’s intensely in the entertainment industry, and that creates a different culture, a different feeling in the air. It felt right to raise the kids in Washington, at least for their early years. We have a foundation there. I like the rain. The fall. The changing weather.
How do you fill your days there?
I’ve been doing music pretty heavily for the last 5 years. I have a band called Enation. We tour and make records. I write books. I write screenplays with my brother, Richard. I have many creative outlets beyond the acting.
Looking back at your early years as Lucky, where did you get all that old-soul stuff? Why were you such a fine actor—and so complex and worldly—at such a young age?
I don’t know where that came from. The whole acting thing just sort of clicked for me. Somehow I just understood it internally. I am definitely a person of faith, so I believe it all comes from there but even if you’re gifted, you still have to really work hard. None of it’s easy.
You played Lucky as a kid and a teen. Now you’ll get the chance to play him as a mature adult.
That’s going to be fascinating and fun for me and a bit of a paradox. I’m coming back to play the character as an adult but because I don’t know what that really means yet, I’ll be like a child—coming into it with a sense of wonder and curiosity because it’ll all be so new. I have no idea what this is going to feel like.
Did you ever imagine you’d reclaim the role after it was re-cast with Greg Vaughan?
I guess I always felt like there was a possibility somewhere, just because of the connection the audience has with Lucky, and with me playing him. So, yeah, I always felt it was a possibility. I was determined to work with Tony Geary again no matter what. It’s shocking how everything has aligned.