Jonathan Jackson Explains General Hospital Departure

News that General Hospital’s Jonathan Jackson would be leaving his role as Lucky Spencer shocked the soap community last week. Now the Emmy winning star is talking about what led to his departure. In an interview with TV Guide, Jackson discusses Lucky and Elizabeth not being put back together and his exhaustion from Lucky’s many emotional scenes.

TV Guide Magazine: What brought you to the decision not to renew your contract? How was your exhaustion manifesting itself?
Jackson: It's an interesting paradox. The storylines don't stay with me in the sense that I feel personally tormented by what my character is going through, but it does take its toll on me physically and emotionally. It's a real energy zapper and there are days when I feel like I have nothing left to give. And in this medium where you're dealing with a pretty insane amount of dialogue, day in, day out, the collision of a heavy workload and increasing exhaustion can make you a little crazy. I love to work hard but I've been at maximum capacity in terms of mental and emotional output for months on end and it has become too difficult. I am extremely thankful that they wanted to give me all those storylines with so much depth, but there's just no balance. Usually, you might get one or maybe two really good and intense story arcs per year. There's usually a cycle to this stuff on soaps. But this has been nonstop. There was just no reprieve. I have a wife and three kids and other things in life I have to think about. I just knew I couldn't sustain the schedule at GH and that kind of emotion for much longer. It was just too intense.

Read the entire interview at TV Guide.

21 Responses

  1. Profile photo of SwanQueen59

    Thank goodness he hasn’t shut the door on a return to “wrap things up”
    when that time comes. And I admire his remaining a class act in light of what has been a stressful period. TPTB missed a wonderful opportunity to rekindle the flame with RH’s Liz in exchange for the slide into drugs and anguish. Would it have resulted in better ratings? I can’t begin to speculate about that, but now we’ll never know. And that’s another thing I find incredibly sad about this turn of events. God bless you, JJ. I, for one, will miss you terribly… 0:)

  2. Profile photo of mipeony

    I’m just glad they aren’t killing him off, although it’s hard for me to think of Lucky pulling a Frisco and Felicia, and just walking away from his kids.

  3. Profile photo of soapfan616

    Simply walking away from his family is way out of character but it’s not half as bad as what the writers have done to this character since JJ returned. It is a shame that, according to JJ, he was willing to work out something to keep him on the canvas but the all-wise (laugh) powers that be wouldn’t allow it. Reminds me of when Genie Francis wanted an extended vacation and was told no. This regime, in addition to killing us with their crap writing, seems hell bent on screwing themselves over with insane casting decisions.

    Best of luck to Mr. Jackson. Best of luck to us viewers who are seeking some positive changes to this show.

  4. Profile photo of Camp is not a sustainable model
    Camp is not a sustainable model

    This is an “actor’s actor.” There are a lot of people in daytime like a certain CBS actress who just “reads lines.” And there are other actors who can’t act their way out of a paper bag. Or that can show that they understand the depth of what it means to “act.” But in the case of Jonathan Jackson, he is one man who shows in this excerpt from the interview that he truly gets it.

    Acting is either:

    A.) Being in the moment.


    B.) Going to a place where you felt the emotion you need to fill in a scene.

    Both can take an emotional toll on you. And when it comes to Jackson, it appears that he is using option B. And constantly having to go that not-so-happy place can take a toll you. So I can see why he needed to leave. No one wants to play depressing material forever.

  5. Profile photo of jphelps

    This entire interview is laughable and it ain’t JJ.

    Lucky is too important a character to be backburner but not too important to write off with a dull ending.

    As for being overworked, hmmm not sure I buy that but I’ll acknowledge his stories have been terrible

    Lucky was on the backburner for 10 years. What they mean is JJ is a pet actor but its nice to know how important Robin or Alexis are that they have no issues putting them on the backburner.

    Sounds like the same ish they pulled with Genie, Vanessa in 2002 and Kristina Wagner in 2006. Its nice to see a MAN for a change getting the same treatment.

  6. Profile photo of josser

    It sounds like it came down to money. If Jackson stayed, he had to be on air a certain amount of time to justify his pay.

    Given that every one knows that GH is close to cancellation, it’s sad that things couldn’t be worked out to have Jackson remain for the remainder of the show’s TV run.

  7. Profile photo of liason4real

    JJ may be the better actor, but the show should have simply kept GV in the role of Lucky Spencer.

    Good luck, JJ.

    As for another redo of LnL2 with JJ and RH? GH can only have mandated soap pairings sanctioned by Brian Frons and since original LnL2 was not created on Frons’ watch it will not see the light of day…JMO

  8. Profile photo of LizzieVee

    One has to wonder what he was promised by tiic to get him to agree to return. Did JJ even bother to research what happened to the character of Lucky since the day he left? Afterall its been 10 years and that character and all the others changed tremendously during that time.

    I wonder how fast his hiring was? It had to be quick because they unceremoniously fired Greg and immediately announced JJ’s return. IMO Elizabeth out grew Lucky a long time ago. There was no way they could just pick up where JJ left off. Too much happened to their characters since then. I never paid them any attention when they were teenagers but I was watching during the fire and did see that Lucky didn’t die. Also, IMO his coming back threw everything up in the air and ruined alot of storylines and character history. All this to accomodate the return of the original Lucky.

    He’s a good actor, I liked him in outside projects. I just think that like Vanessa and Sarah, his return didn’t work.

    Since I don’t watch anymore I never saw him this time around so I won’t miss him. I do, however, miss Greg but am glad he’s not coming back to this mess of a show.

  9. Profile photo of maxsmom

    JJ wanted balance and GH doesnt know balance. There is a difference between lighter load and backburner. I dont want Liz and Lucky redux but he asked for a pairing which has lots of fans and was turned down. He asked for a break from a continuous journey into darkness which included the love of his life having an affair with his brother who then left town, the death of the son he raised since birth at the hands of his alcoholic father and the death of his wife who he may or may not have loved creating grief and guilt, his partner was shot and he fell off the wagon for a second time. Thats a lot and I feel like I am forgetting something.

    I hope that there is a big change behind the scenes that brings JJ back sooner rather than later because he is, was, and always will be the only Lucky for me.

  10. Profile photo of alstonboy4315

    JJ is, for me, the ONLY Lucky!! I wish they had done more to accommodate him instead of trying to work him like a rented mule. I will miss him……he’s the sexiest crier in daytime, primetime or anytime. No other man can cry as beautifully and as heart-wrenchingly as he does!!

  11. Profile photo of Restless Vixen
    Restless Vixen

    I think this was JJ’s nice way of saying the writing for his character left him unmoved and uninspired. I don’t think he’s lying about the emotional drain of the material, but I think any capable actor is willing to go there when the material is worth it in the long run, when it’s fulfilling. JJ is smartly putting the onus on himself (by not burning bridges) although it appears to be the writing that is not up to snuff because it seems to be all peaks and no valleys for his character. It seems like the rewards is no longer worth the effort on his part, but he’s a class act and he’s not going to point fingers or call the writing of his character one-note. I’m not a GH fan, but the hacks over there don’t deserve his decency.

    I think a lot of talented actors in the soapverse feel the same way he does, but maybe some of them can’t make the decision he has made for himself. I don’t think he’s the only one being worn down by lather-rinse-repeat.

  12. Profile photo of jphelps

    [quote=The_Moustache]how come he couldn’t take 2-4 months off and then resume work, like Tony Geary does??[/quote]
    Because its either an excuse for the real reason or that they just dont want to. Hes been treated no worse than Genie Francis who wanted a vacation schedule equal to Tony Geary, Vanessa Marcil who wanted a lighter workload in 2002 to spend time with her son, or Kristina Wagner who wanted a lighter schedule to go back to get her degree. Only differnce this time is the same thing happened to a man. i respect him but can’t feek sorry for him and I suspect the story behind this is more than we all know. THe idea that Lucky is too important a charactr to backburn is not even believable as he sat there for 10 years prior to JJ.

  13. Profile photo of sassysdreams

    I will miss JJ’s Lucky and I’m glad they are not recasting him!!! I look forward to seeing Jonathan in whatever he does next and wish him only the best in his future endeavors!!!!!

  14. Profile photo of syworld82

    I still dont get why people say Tony Geary takes too many breaks.. .He is a LEGEND… Does Brian Frons work every day relisiously.. I DOUBT IT..

    The Soap Genre is a very intense area of TV & Film and He has put his dues in and deservingly so.. Has reached a point when he can take regular vacations.

  15. Profile photo of PurpleRocks

    I really hope something changes and JJ comes back. He is THE Lucky Spencer. I watched him from when he first came on the show to all the Lucky recasts and JJ is by far my favorite. Such a talented actor. GH sure knows how to get good talent to walk away. It’s hard to believe that if GH really wanted JJ to stay that they couldn’t work something out.

    And I’m glad he too wanted to be paired back with RH’s Liz to give the original LL2 a shot and see if the magic was still there. I (along with many other original LL2 fans), was so looking forward to that when JJ came back. Too bad those in charge are idiots and didn’t even give them a chance. It’s sad when they do the exact opposite of what fans and actors want and then wonder why the ratings stink and good actors walk away. I would think that the ppl watching the show and the ppl acting the parts would matter more. I guess not. If fans are on message boards saying that Lucky is too dark and depressing and we’re tired of seeing him cry all the time, and the actor also says he needs a break from the emotionally draining storylines, then that should be a clue as to lighten up the load on the actor and give the character something to smile about.

    I bet he won’t be the last good actor leaving GH cuz of stupid decisions by those in charge. He sure wasn’t the first and won’t be the last. So sad :(

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