Genie Francis on 'General Hospital' Return, Jonathan Jackson and Off-Screen Relationship With Tony Geary
By Tim Kenneally June 16, 2015
Laura Spencer is back in Port Charlies and in a big way.
Genie Francis, who’s played Laura Spencer on “General Hospital” on and off for the better part of four decades, returned to the ABC soap opera this month with a vengeance. Besides from breaking up the engagement party of her former beau Luke (Anthony Geary) and his fiancee Tracy Quartermaine (Jane Elliott), she’s also contending with the kidnapping of her son Lucky (Jonathan Jackson).
With Geary preparing to exit “General Hospital,” TheWrap spoke with Francis about her return to the series, what storylines she’d like to see and press reports that she and Geary have a less-than-ideal relationship.
You’re going to appear on “General Hospital” through the fall, beyond Luke’s exit story. Is there anything you can say about what’s coming up for Laura?
I don’t know exactly what is coming up … I’m very willing to come back to work. That’s always made sense to me that if Laura were up and around that she’d be in Port Charles, because that’s where her whole family is. But that said, it depends if the writers can find something interesting to do with Laura now. I think in the next few months they’ll be sort of playing around with things they can do with Laura.
Do you have any hints about Luke’s exit story that you can share with us?
I don’t have any hints for you, because I don’t know myself. Which is nice, because I don’t have to sit here telling lies to you. I’d rather not know.
Have you filmed your scenes with Jonathan Jackson, who plays your son Lucky, yet? And if so, how did that go?
Yes, we’ve done our work with Jonathan Jackson, It was just amazing. I didn’t get a one-on-one scene with Jonathan, which was very disappointing. But Tony had some scenes with Jonathan that are jaw-dropping, not-to-be-missed, like motion picture-level work. They’re definitely scenes that nobody should miss. I sat at the monitor with my jaw dropped and couldn’t leave, getting chills. So I think it’s something you don’t want to miss.
You’ve played this character on and off for decades. Is there a storyline that you’ve wanted to do that you haven’t been able to tackle yet?
Yes, of course. I can’t come up with something off the top of my head. But I think as people evolve and they get older, they’ve got more stuff. They’ve got more history, they’ve got more stuff going on, and they’re in different parts of their life. Where an unmarried woman at Laura’s age would be going through an awful lot of stuff. Am I going to be alone forever? Will I die alone? You know, not ever having remarried, how do I make the best of my life now. There’s just a lot of stuff going on when your nest is empty and that husband is gone, how do you reinvent? I think it is a compelling story, and I think it’s something that every woman my age will relate to.
Laura has always been super-protective of her children. What can you tell us about how that plays out in the storylines playing out now?
Well, the thing that sends us off on the adventure is that Lucky has been kidnapped. So obviously that’s what sent her running into Port Charles and screwing up their engagement party. So, yeah; that’s really what is the driving force behind it.
After Luke’s departure, can we still expect a rivalry between Laura and Tracy?
I would think there would have to be. I mean, Tracy’s gotta hate Laura with a fiery passion right now! Don’t you think? She’s gotta just hate her! I think Laura better duck and cover, man. I think Laura should be wearing a flak jacket. Which is great. Because already there’s a relationship there that’s gonna be very, very actable, and very writeable as well.
We’re doing our Emmys coverage right now, and we’ve been asking people: What Emmy category would you like to see that doesn’t currently exist?
Oh geez, you put me on the spot. Actually, you know what they should do now, because of the way they’re doing this, is best guest appearance. Because a lot of people don’t even fall into the supporting category anymore, they may be in for only a four-week visit, so “Best Guest Appearance By…” would not be a bad thing to add in. Because at that point, you’re really not a supporting actor, even.
“General Hospital” has always been on the front lines in tackling social issues, such as the HIV storyline. With Caitlyn Jenner’s transition so much in the news now, do you think it’s time for a transgender storyline on “GH”?
Yes, I think they should do everything they can to support the LGBT community. I support the LGBT community, I donate, and I feel very strongly that all people have the same amount of God inside them, and I don’t like prejudice towards any of these people. So yeah, the more we can say in our work that, “Oh, yes, these people are part of the world and they deserve to be given a voice…” So I think they should be in our storytelling.
But you know what’s very cool? Way back in the day we had Sally/Max in the original Luke and Laura adventure, with Frank Smith and the little black book. I don’t know if you’d call it female impersonator or cross-dresser, but we did have that, waaayy back then.
“General Hospital” has sometimes been accused of favoring the male halves of its super-couples. Has that been your experience?
Oh, yes, definitely. Yeah. I mean, I like to joke that Laura usually becomes the Robin of the Batman and Robin couple. I think there’s some good changes, though, in this go-round that Laura does get a little more into the action this time, which is kind of nice. But yes — they are totally guilty of the women following after the men.
There’s been ongoing speculation in the press that, despite the fantastic onscreen chemistry between you and Anthony Geary, you haven’t always gotten along personally. How do you respond to that speculation?
I would say that we’re getting along beautifully and that we’re both enjoying this time very, very much. We have — I don’t know, what is it? — 38 years together. Don’t tell me anybody who’s had 38 years together [hasn’t had] a couple of run-ins with each other — if they’re saying they didn’t, they’re full of shit. So yeah — we’re doing very well with each other now, and there’s a lot of love and a lot of good feelings about this ending.