A couple months ago, I was blessed with the opportunity to find a wonderful person who said he would contact Jonathan Jackson on behalf of myself and Operation: Genie's Angels [OGA] in regards to engaging in an online interview about Genie Francis. A week ago Jonathan contacted me and most graciously agreed to answer some questions for me, to give us just a bit of insight to the time he spent with Genie.
Suzette[OGA] - Jonathan, the first and foremost question would have to be, what was it like working with Genie Francis?
Jonathan - It was pure joy. I was 11 years old when I started and Genie treated me with such kindness and grace. She protected me and always taught me to trust my instincts. She was fun and very present in everything we did together.
Suzette[OGA] - I'm sure you've played the 'word association' game, Jonathan - where someone throws out a word and you say the first thing that comes to mind. In that, if I say 'Genie Francis', what is the first thing that comes to your mind?
Jonathan - Lovely
Suzette[OGA] - I know that you and your brother Richard Lee have a band, Enation, and I read that years ago Genie and Tony presented you with your first guitar on your birthday - did that have any influence on your music? Or were you already working on playing guitar? And being as music is such an integral part of your life, I was wondering if there was any song, when you hear it, makes you think of Genie?
Jonathan - Actually, I got my first guitar when I was eight and it was an electric guitar. But, they gave me my first acoustic guitar and I played it all the time in my dressing room while I was on the show. Funny enough the song, "Don't Fence Me In" reminds me of Genie because they played as a joke in a scene.
Suzette[OGA] - Being so young when you began the role of Lucky Spencer, I know you had no idea who 'Luke and Laura' were. Genie seems to be such a down-to-earth person who is sensitive, somewhat shy, genuinely kind and with a good sense of humor. In your experience working with her, would you say that is an accurate assessment? Can you add anything to that description? And how did being such an iconic figure seem to affect Genie?
Jonathan - There was no presence of ego or self importance in Genie. She was unselfish and genuine. She is very funny, and there was a lot of joy when we worked together.
Suzette[OGA] - Genie always seemed to portray the role of Laura Spencer effortlessly with such emotion and passion. She had a way of drawing us in as viewers and making us believe in every word, every glance. How much of herself did Genie bring to the role of Laura Spencer and how much was acting?
Jonathan - I don't think I could really answer that. She is very gifted and very available to the moment.
Suzette[OGA] - What was Genie's biggest influence on you as a child actor, and what could you say you learned from her as a child that you still carry with you today as an adult?
Jonathan - I learned so much it's hard to narrow it down. But, I would say I learned to listen in an emotional way from her. Being so young and witnessing such power from the person playing your mother was intense. In some ways it was quite easy. And again, to trust my instincts.
Suzette[OGA] - From the first moment you began your role as Lucky Spencer, there always seemed to be the most fantastic connection between yourself and Genie. I've heard both you and Genie comment on the bond that was there between you. The many fans of your work together have always agreed you were so believable as Mother and child; to what would you attribute that?
Jonathan - Just a divine connection. It was meant to be, that's what I would say. Genie has compassion in her, and my little heart resonated with that. These things can't be explained very well.
Suzette[OGA] - Adding to the previous question, when you left in 1999 Genie was said to have been disheartened by your decision to leave, although she completely understood the reasons. She went on to produce some of her best work ever in her portrayal of Laura trying to come to terms with her life without Lucky. Later, when asked, Genie said that time period was the hardest work she's ever had to do and she wishes never to have to repeat it. I recall the last 'Laura and Lucky' scene vividly and I was wondering if there was as much Genie and Jonathan in those scenes as there was Laura and Lucky? Was that relationship as
real to you as it so obviously was to Genie?
Jonathan - Yes, there was a deep relationship between the three of us, Genie, Tony and myself. We went through so much together and really cared about each other. Genie told me to go because she believed in me as a person and as an actor and that was beyond the show.
Suzette[OGA] - Genie is on record as stating that you had a profound affect on her regarding motherhood. Being as she 'mothered' you on the set, she stated that you showed her how fun and fulfilling the role of being a Mother could be and proved to her that she was ready for that in her own personal life. Has Genie had a profound affect on you in some way? And in that, is there anything that you learned either through Genie or 'Laura' that you’ve found you wanted to pass down to your own children, Caleb and Adora?
Jonathan - She has said similar things to me and that really blesses me a lot. Genie is such a wonderful Mom, and I'm honored to have played a small role in opening that door up in her heart towards that. Genie treated me with so much respect as young boy and that has stuck with me. Children are young, but they are not stupid and we should never condescend them. They have valuable opinions and as a parent it is so much fun to really listen to my kids and value their hearts and minds.
Suzette[OGA] - Recently, Genie was on the press junket promoting her Hallmark movie, 'The Note'. In one of her interviews she said in many ways, you were her first child, her first baby, and she stated she still has all of the Mother's Day cards and gifts you made for her years ago. When you hear that, how does that make you feel?
Jonathan - Really touched.
Suzette[OGA] - Genie and Tony presented you with your first Daytime Emmy Award. After Genie handed you the statue, you pointed to her and Tony and said, "I want to thank them!" It was such a powerful gesture, Jonathan. In that moment was there something in particular for which you were thanking Genie that you could elaborate on for us?
Jonathan - I was simply overwhelmed with gratitude for both of them. They were both such gifts from God in my life.
Suzette[OGA] - What influence, in regards to what you learned from her, did Genie have on you in your career after leaving General Hospital? Is there anything that to this day you can look back and say, was influenced by 'learning at the feet' of Genie Francis?
Jonathan - The things I mentioned above are still things that are alive with me today. I have worked with many amazing people, but I still look back on those days with Genie and Tony as something altogether different. I simply would not be who I am as an actor with out sitting at her feet. I learned through experience from her. I was a sponge... emotionally available to receive what she would bring.
Suzette[OGA] - Genie's latest movie, 'The Note', had an interesting premise to it - you only have a few minutes left to live and in those moments you take the time to write a note for a loved one, to whom you would say it and what you would say. If you take that premise and give it a twist, if you could send such a note to Genie, what would you say?
Jonathan - That one's pretty deep, I'll leave that one for the real thing.
Suzette[OGA] - You and Genie had such a powerful connection and bond, probably one of the most believable representations of a Mother-son in the history of daytime. Is there any chance we might get to see an acting reunion between the two of you down the road? It would be so wonderful to see you sharing the screen together again - just wondering your thoughts on such a possibility?
Jonathan - I would absolutely love that. It would be wonderful and exciting!
Suzette[OGA] - Is there any last bit of insight into the luminous Ms. Genie Francis, that you might be able to share with us of which we might not already be aware? Or just something you would like for us to know?
Jonathan - Genie is a remarkable individual. She has such a sensitivity in her heart and very sharp mind. She feels things on many different levels and is a great light in the world. She is filled with so much of God's heart, so much love.
Suzette[OGA] - In all the years of soaps, there has never been - nor will there be - a relationship comparable to the one between Genie and Tony brought us in Laura and Luke Spencer. What was it like to witness the incredible, unadulterated magic between them on a daily basis, and what did you take away from being such an integral part of their partnership?
Jonathan - There was something about the differences between them that just ignited the room. Tony is full of wit, sarcasm, rage, and mischief among other things and Genie is so full of innocence, honesty, compassion, and confidence and all of this was bouncing of each other in a myriad of ways constantly. They can both act anything they want, but the combination of such variance and brilliance electrifies the screen. They will always be a part of my life where ever I go.
Jonathan, I would like to take a moment to say thank you very much for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer these questions for us! Genie is such a tremendous influence and inspiration, it is wonderful to see how she has affected those she has been so close to, like yourself!!