Breaking into the daytime scene as the son of soap opera legends--"General Hospital" super couple Luke and Laura Spencer (Anthony Geary and Genie Francis)--would have been a formidable assignment for any young actor. The role would require a seasoned young actor with impeccable talent and a natural ease. Jonathan Jackson, who won the coveted role of Lucky Spencer, has risen to the occasion.
Since creating the role of Lucky in Sept. 1993, thirteen-year-old Jackson has received the praise of critics, culminating in a Daytime Emmy win for outstanding younger actor in 1995. Ironically, Jackson has never had an acting lesson, let alone any real experience, prior to joining "General Hospital."
"I'd done a couple of commercials--citing a Mattel, MacDonalds and an Albertson's supermarket ad--and was auditioning a lot," says Jackson. "But 'General Hospital' was the first big thing I tested for."
The young actor explains that he learned his craft by watching films and imitating stars with his older brother and fellow actor, Richard Jackson of "Saved by the Bell."
"We both love movies," he says. "So we'd watch them over and over, memorize lines, and say them just like the actors did. We watched 'Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves' constantly, because I like Kevin Costner. We watched all the 'Back to the Future' movies. When I like a movie, I still do that. I watch it all the time."
It was after a family trip to Universal Studios Hollywood in 1991 that the Jackson brothers first became intrigued by show business and bent on leaving their home in Washington State to become stars. Richard made the move to Los Angeles first with his manager; then, Jonathan and his mother followed. Both brothers found success very quickly.
It has been onward and upward for Jackson, who has honed his talent by delving into acting lessons and by the experience of sharing daily scenes with Geary and Francis.
"They're awesome," says Jackson with a smile. "I have learned so many things these past two years from working with both of them."
And, during that time, Jackson also has perfected his own acting style.
"The basic method I use is talking myself into [a scene]," he explains. "I work at believing the lines, like the truth. If you say something to yourself enough, you start to believe it. Once it becomes a reality, it's easy to play."
Obviously, Jackson's philosophy is right on target. Aside from his "General Hospital" gig, he starred in his first feature film, "Camp Nowhere," last year, and is currently in production for his second movie, "Ruby Silver." Still, Lucky Spencer remains the role nearest and dearest to his heart.
"Lucky lives every boy's dream," says Jackson. "He has loving parents, a baby sister, a loyal dog, and even a little bit of danger in his life."
"But with parents like Luke and Laura," he adds, "He can't help but get in on the action."
"General Hospital" airs weekdays at 2 p.m. on ABC.