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.

Follow me on Twitter @EWAbbyWest

‘General Hospital': Who’s to blame for Jake’s death? — EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

Comments (69 total) Add your comment
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  • AH

    That’s 1993 not 83. I am not that old.

    • meb

      and neither is he…..see they fixed it…..

  • gigi

    Great interview! I’m so glad JJ is back home on GH. Jonathan plays Lucky with such passion and intensity. I hope he is blessed with an Emmy nom and win this year. Thanks Abby for the daytime updates…keep them coming! Our shows are in jeopardy, but there are still millions of daytime fans out here.

    • me

      “Great interview”? The very first question is “Was that a hard scene to film?” Duh. That’s right up there with the newscasters who ask the trauma victim “how does it feel to have you child murdered/house burn down/car explode?”

      • Georgie

        Shut up

  • Mike

    I think the acting for this arc has been strong – Jonathan clearly the strongest – but the story has been so rushed. The thing that used to make soaps special was you would get all the beats of the story – not just the main ones. These days, writers script the highlights only and call it a story.

    • erica

      Yeah, they can wear out a dumb wedding or a hotel fire for nearly two weeks but killing a child off is done between commercials? Give me a break.

      • Jessica

        Seriously! How many weeks did we have to hear Brenda et al whining about the Balkan? And Jake’s killed in a couple of days?

  • a

    Jonathan Jackson is the best actor on not only GH, but on daytime tv in general in my opinion. Ever since he returned last year (dream come true), the quality of GH has improved exponentially. He brings a passion, intensity and strength to the character that had been sorely missing over the years. He turned Lucky back into a forefront as a major character. I look forward every day for his scenes because they are always top. Love him!

    • sapphire


    • WhiteLightning

      Definetely! I started watching the show when Greg Vaughn played him, and I hated Lucky. Now that Jonathan’s on, he’s my favorite character!

      • Dr Linus

        I didn’t watch GH when he originated the role. I’d always heard such great things about the “original Lucky” and now I see what all the fuss was about.

    • Georgie

      More like bets actor ALIVE! XD

      • Georgie

        best* haha

  • KSH

    I feel like the story was rushed too. Even with that the actors did a GREAT job. I just hate that I feel like it’s the 90’s all over again when Bobbie’s daughter died and her heart was given to one of Jones Children.

    • Alix

      THAT was an epic story line. BJ’s heart was given to Felicia’s daughter, Maxie, and there was a tear-jerking scene in which BJ’s father sat at Maxie’s bedside, listening to his daughter’s heart inside the little girl. Absolutely crushing… superb acting all around, too.

      • Steve

        That was a great scene, but it was unfortunately cribbed from St. Elsewhere. David Morse lost his wife, and listened to her heart inside the new patient.

    • Ashley

      I agree. They didn’t even need Josslyn to be sick and do the organ donor storyline to make this emotional. Or they could have had Josslyn sick for weeks and then Jake’s accident happen just when it looks like Josslyn might not make it. All of this happening in one day is a bit much. But great acting. Love that JJ is getting such a powerful storyline. Lucky and Jason have such a unique, respectful relationship and they brought me to tears.

  • Dana

    How do they not have Bobbie in this story??? It’s her granddaughter that needed a transplant?? They really rushed the past two days. Liz slapping Jason was stupid. I seem to remember her saying, “Love him enough to let him go” meaning Jake when he was born. Then she yells at him? I wish she was still leaving…

    • Lincoln

      You know, I have to agree w/ you Dana. I was not happy about that slap. Jason DID NOT deserve it. Everyone knows why he had to give up his paternal rights. Elizabeth overreacted. These writers don’t know what they are doing sometimes. The actors are superb and did excellently but rushing this story line is insulting to the original story between Bobbie/Tony/BJ/Maxie.

    • rae

      I think the slap came from Liz feeling very alone. She lost Lucky, Nicholas, and Jason. All of them are happy with other women. Now this emotional loss of Jake caused her to realize what she should have had with Jason. She said something about not choosing her. Man, she’s a mess – I love it when she is edgy like this. Hate the goody-two-shoes Liz.

      • LL

        At first she wanted him to stay away…but then they were back together and he proposed…she said yes…then Mikey got shot and then the Russains took Jake and then he told her he would never have any contact with her again…She wanted him to be with her and the kids

    • MsMee

      I totally agree with Dana…Jason did not deserve that slap, though the timing was BAD and Liz was/is hurting,to slap Jason for doing what you asked him to do was so unnecessary. I too wish she was still leaving…and I am not hoping for a Liz/Jason reunion! Excellent acting to all of the cast in this storyline;Tony Geary, Jonathan Jackson, & Steve Burton have been superb!!!

  • UGH

    I cry everytime I look at that ridiculous facial-hair he has that doesn’t connect.

    • CdnSarah

      LOL! Thanks for the laugh! He is a great actor, but that beard-type-thing IS kind of distracting.

    • Michelle

      Some guys just cant grow a full beard and shouldnt try. He is a fine man without it.

    • Jessica

      We have been saying that forever. Just shave it, Jonathan. Shave it, please. It doesn’t make you look older. It makes you look like you’re wearing a terrible fake beard. You look terrific without it.

  • Gigi

    I’m so glad to see EW covering the soaps and giving their actors the respect they deserve. They have such a hard job–I can’t imagine filming all that Jake’s death stuff in one day. Jonathan broke my heart with his performance.

    • Ray

      I just want to ditto Gigi’s praise for the recent increase in coverage of daytime drama by EW (online, at least).

      Soaps, as a business model currently, may be on the decline, but great acting and storytelling can still be mined from this genre. It’s nice that a popular publication like EW will take a beat to spotlight this genre.

      With the recent news that AMC is in danger of being canceled, I hope that EW will be continue to push for coverage of daytime television… and throw the gauntlet down to network executives AND home viewers and challenge all of us to formulate what the next model of daytime television will look like. What do we all want to see? How can we incorporate technology, social media, experiential marketing into daytime TV?

  • Zo

    There was beautiful acting all around this week. When this was shot, Becky still thought she was fired, right? Well, she showed them how phenomenal and vital she is to GH. She was heartbreaking, and she and JJ work beautifully off each other. Still, it must have been hard for the two actors to shoot those scenes, since they both have children Jake’s age in real life.
    There’d better be Emmy’s next year for RH and JJ!

  • KC

    Where’s the petition to have GH fire the bad actors who play Sonny and Jason?

    • vballchic24jlt

      They don’t need one. They aren’t bad actors.

      • KC

        Thanks for pointing out that inaccuracy. They’re TERRIBLE actors.

    • WhiteLightning

      Steve Burton (Jason)is one of the best actors on the show. Maurice Benard (Sonny), not so much. It’s people like Vanessa Marcil Giovinazzo that I absolutely hate!

  • Nicole

    What a great cast on this soap.Its the best cast on daytime hands down.JJ,Steve Burton is amazing…Laura wright…they all deserve emmys!!!Great job!!!

  • sunsetsnow81

    I have been crying for the last two episodes. Great acting all around but JJ is the standout. I agree with some of the others that this storyline has been rushed.

  • Annette

    Everyone’s mentioning how this storyline is being rushed, and I agree. But the question is why? What great plot do they have coming up that they are rushing through this one to get to??? I don’t see it.

    • gato

      It so rushed because it was meant to be the story to get Liz off the show, but the fans outrage changed that. So, they had to change directions.

  • MichelleinMI

    I agree that this has been a real tear-jerker of a storyline and JJ has done an awesome job of yanking the tears out of my eyes! What really bothers me is the parallel of the BJ/Maxie storyline of the 80’s though…c’mon writers, did you have to draw a straight line from Jake to Jocelyn so rapidly? This storyline would’ve stood fine on it’s own with the simple tragedy of losing Jake and the ripple effect of that impact alone.

    I will commend the writers however, for giving Lucky the opportunity to thank Jason for allowing him to be Jake’s father. Also for letting Lucky thank his father in yesterday’s episode. I thought JJ handled those scenes wonderfully and had me crying even harder! I have a love-hate relationship with the GH writers on a daily basis it seems.

  • Jason

    The writing is lacking these days but the performances are top notch. So glad Rebecca is staying, sorry to see Tyler let go. I guess they wont be doing that big Cassadine story that was talked about months ago.

    • Dr Linus

      “The writing is lacking these days but the performances are top notch.”

      So absolutely true Jason.

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