It's a sad time for many GENERAL HOSPITAL fans. Those long time viewers who have watched Lucky Spencer grow up before their eyes, loving and losing and loving and losing Elizabeth again had become a sort of something to count on, as it was always assumed they'd eventually end up together forever. Not so. At least not this time: This week, Jonathan Jackson leaves the role he created when he was just a young lad of eleven.
Although Jackson believes it's people's "natural instinct to look for a bad guy" as to why it's playing out this way, he says, "The reality is that I had certain things that needed to be adjusted. I think [GH writers and producers] genuinely wanted to be able to do that. But from their perspective -- with the demands that they have on them -- they weren't able to provide that to the degree that would have been necessary for me to stay. At that point, I understand."
What, exactly, does that mean? The amount of material he was shooting each week got to be a bit overwhelming and when asked for a lighter work load, the people in charge at the time didn't believe that was possible for a character as vital as Lucky. "It's a different time than it used to be," Jackson confesses. "I remember in the 90s when I was on the show, it was not even comparable in terms of the amount of work, and it was already an incredible amount of work for everybody. I mean, if you had 20 pages in a day, that was really a lot. Now, it's 20 to 35, sometimes 40, multiple times in a week. It's been quite the challenge.
"I'm extremely thankful for the opportunity to be able to do a lot of those insane stories. It would have been nice if there weren't quite as many," he adds with a grin. "But the stuff that I got to do with Tony Geary (Luke) around Jake's death, the intervention show... within the two-year span, we packed probably packed in four years of really great material. I'm grateful for that."
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There's something beautiful and poignant about first loves finding their way back together, now that they're no longer innocent. That "everlasting love" story of Lucky and Liz was another factor in Jackson's decision to leave. While Jackson hoped for a Lucky/Liz reunion sooner rather than later, those in charge were thinking of later rather than sooner. "It's difficult to tell love stories in a day in and day out medium. It can easily become a little bit mundane," Jackson says. "I think there's a way around that, but it's not easy. The answer can't be to always have one of the two people betray the other one and have the whole thing fall apart because the characters end up compromising everything about themselves. There has to be another way to have drama without the characters themselves doing that to themselves or doing that to each other. That would be the challenge: how do you create drama and suspense nuances but maintain the integrity of the characters? That's really difficult to do."
All that aside, the future of daytime, and even the future of GH, is up in air. For a man who started in the genre when he was a child, that's a sad sight to behold. "I hope that the show can continue to thrive and be successful," Jackson says. "The world is a fluid place. Things change and evolve. Everything in this world is temporary and transient to some degree. It's the eternal things that mater and the relationships with people that mater. Those are the things that I try to focus on and hold onto."
With the behind-the-scenes regime change at GH in the new year, all this might, indeed, change, and Jackson might be back on your screens after a quick negotiation and compromise. Jackson fans, cross your fingers.