Jonathan Jackson on Making Music in Nashville and Remaining Open to a General Hospital Return

Jonathan Jackson may be moving on from soaps with a co-starring role in one of fall’s buzziest new series, ABC’s Nashville, but that doesn’t mean he’s closing the door on General Hospital for good.

Here, the five-time Daytime Emmy-winning actor previews for TVLine his role on the country music-tinged drama and discusses why he’ll never say never when it comes to the sudser that is “a huge part of my heart.”

TVLINE | Talk a little about the transition from daytime TV to a full-time primetime series.
They are very different. It’s not a strange transition in an awkward way; it’s just interesting. I’ve been doing films since I was pretty young, so I know the pace. But I’d been doing the soap-opera pace for the last couple years, and to get a script now with the amount of dialogue compared to what I was doing is just incredible. This is a very unique show. I’ve been doing music pretty seriously for seven to eight years with [my band] Enation, and to have a show like this where I get to act and sing and explore those things is pretty amazing.

TVLINE | Will you have the chance to incorporate any of your own music into Nashville?
Sure, yeah. The producers are encouraging us to bring our original music in. I haven’t found the time yet to get into a studio and demo some of that, but I will.

RELATED | Nashville Team on Connie’s ‘Journey’ as a Singer and Hayden’s Hussy

TVLINE | Does that mean you’ll to veer into country music territory at all?
No. My character Avery is more avant-garde musically, so I think the audience will get to see that side of the Nashville music scene through him. I wouldn’t say he’s very country at all, really. He’s really more Americana. [Recording artist] Elvis Costello is a good example, I guess. He does a lot of different genres and uses a lot of different voices. His lyrical content is very broad and deep, so we’re excited to explore the more indie music scene in Nashville.

TVLINE | We don’t get to know your character very well in the pilot, so what can you tell us about him?
Avery has given his heart and soul to his music, but at the same time the music that he loves isn’t easily acceptable to a broad range of people; it’s not mainstream. That’s a very strange place to be when you want your music to be heard and it doesn’t fit a mold. He’s very ambitious artistically, and I think he carries all of the complexities and contradictions that [many] artists do; they tend to be very insecure people and yet also confident — which you have to be to get up on stage.

TVLINE | It would be an understatement to say that you’re missed on General Hospital. But I have to tell you that I think storylines are a bit lighter under new showrunner Frank Valentini than what was happening near the end of your run.
I haven’t been able to really watch it, but I’ve been hearing positive things, which is cool. I was also excited to hear that [former General Hospital executive producer] Jill [Farren Phelps] went to Y&R. I was excited for her.

RELATED | General Hospital Team Talks of ‘Rebuilding,’ Plus 7 More Scooplets 

TVLINE | Given that so much of your career took place on General Hospital, what are your thoughts on the show celebrating its 50th anniversary next season?
It’s been a trying time for daytime. It’s interesting to me that a lot of people have been calling Nashville a primetime soap opera because I think there is recognition that there’s something about the soap opera that people like. So much on television today is focused on CGI and action, but at the heart of it, people want to watch relationships and human drama and choices. And [series boss] Callie [Khouri] is amazing at that. She writes for characters. I don’t know how I got there for that question. [Laughs] Anyway, I’m really happy for everybody that General Hospital is continuing. There are so many people there that I love, not just the cast but the crew, and I’m really grateful they get to keep going. Everybody works so hard.

TVLINE | Fans are certainly hoping Nashville does well, but there’s always some hope that you’ll return to General Hospital  Do you ever see yourself heading back to daytime? Or is that door closed?
You know, years ago when I was younger I probably would have made some decisions like that. Nowadays I’ve learned to not plan or strategize as much. Life happens, and you just never know. So for me, everything’s sort of open. I would be open to doing more on General Hospital. I love the people there and I love working with Anthony Geary and Rebecca Herbst and Steve [Burton] and Maurice [Benard] and everybody. GH has a huge part of my heart. Over the years when people leave daytime and they go to primetime or film or whatever, there’s always this sense of [not returning]… I don’t feel that way about it. General Hospital has an incredible group of actors, just amazing. I’ve learned so much working there, so I feel like I’ll always be open to doing that.

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24 Comments
  1. Sam says:

    If this, Revolution, or Last Resort do really well, i’ll be satisfied. Since Fringe (and maybe The Good Wife or Parenthood) is ending this year, there needs to be an intelligent drama to replace it.

    • adam says:

      is this going to be an intelligent drama? don’t get me wrong, of the new shows this fall this probably tops the list that i’m looking forward to, but from the promos i’ve seen it seems much more soapy than intelligent. backstabbing and sleeping with other people a la revenge(which i like as well). but i hope you’re right i’d love for this to be comparable to parenthood or GW rathan than revengeish shows..

      • Sam says:

        To be fair, the promos for The Good Wife looked soapy too. I’m not expecting miracles, but if this is the smart exploration of the contemporary music scene I hope it will be, it may be comparable to the great network dramas. All three of them.

  2. Chris says:

    I have high hopes for Nashville and am excited to see Jonathan Jackson move from daytime to night time shows. Had Fox allowed The Sarah Connor Chronicles to remain on the air, we probably would have seen Jackson in prime time earlier then this.

  3. Becca says:

    I really can’t wait for this show primarily because of Jon. I’ve been a fan of his music almost as long as his acting, so it’ll be fun to see it at the same time.

  4. Erica says:

    Come back to GH!!!! We miss you.

  5. Gabbie says:

    I really miss Lucky. Liz is best when she’s with him.

  6. StupidPeopleShutUp says:

    He’s better off in prime time. Enough of him on GH already.

  7. Debbie says:

    I really love ENATION but I also miss Jonathan playing Lucky. To me the story lines on GH was so much richer and deeper when Lucky was with the show. I will have to give this new Nashville show a peak and a chance. I just wonder why Johnathan would up and leave a roll that was demonstrating his excellent acting skills by the awards be was winning. GOD SPEED JONATHAN!!!

    • Mommy of 2 says:

      When JJ left GH, the producers and writers at the time were not giving him a break on his story-lines, he asked for a lighter load, but they refused,and it was hard, emotional acting on top of their new baby IRL, so he left. If they would have lightened his load some,he would have stayed.

  8. Mary says:

    Jonathon was the reason I first started watching GH and his relationship with Liz was always my favorite. He is such a wonderful actor and it’s nice to see that he doesn’t have a big ego.

  9. Renee says:

    I love this guy. I really hope Nashville is a huge hit.

  10. Sez says:

    I started watching GH when Lucky&Liz was starting, so I have a huge spot in my heart for JJ. I hope this does well for him! Thanks tvline for all the GH love.

  11. Jared says:

    I can’t say im excited for Nashville..but will definitely check it out in the fall..maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

  12. Soo excited for Nashville because of Jonathan and Connie Britton. Hoping the show is successful and gets a full-season pickup. Having both of them on my screen on the same show is really exciting!

  13. KBC says:

    I’m SO looking forward to this show. And I’m glad his character will delve into more of the indie music scene…I know country gets all the attention, but Nashville has some nice indie artists!

  14. GDV says:

    I don’t watch soaps so I had no idea he was on General Hospital, but I used to be totally in love with him in my tween days, lol! Glad to see his career is still going strong.

  15. Patricia says:

    He really is an amazing actor! There’s something so pure and deep about his acting. It will be interesting to see how Nashville and his role evolves in Nashville, as well as his music. He is always compelling.

    • Amy says:

      Well said…he IS “always compelling” and has been since I first saw him at that tender age playing Lucky, (I think around 11 y.o.) He had an old soul then, and embodied the son of “Supercouple” L&L so well…Luke’s scrappiness and savvy with Laura’s heart & soul…and as an 11 y.o. he nailed it. Been a loyal GH fan for decades…hated how that show turned in this recent decade and gave it up…returned only to see J.J. come back, but then gave up again because the old producers all but wrecked every great character. New producers have turned it around again and maybe leaves the door open for another Lucky return one day, as Laura is finally coming back; I’d have loved to see them reunite.
      But all that aside…I am LOVING me some Nashville! Haven’t had appt. night-time tv in years and I love this show…so well done, writing, actors everything. And I came onto this thread just to post this too…the other night while watching J.J. play Avery, I realized once again just how good he is…NOTHING makes me think “Lucky” at all while watching him. He doesn’t even look all that different, but it’s his “soul” that is different, completely, playing Avery…who at his essence is very different from Lucky. And once again, J.J. nailed it. Love him. And his singing on the show, and his band that I only just checked out…impressed with all that too! Wish him the best…and one day, maybe GH fans will get to see Lucky interact with Laura again too…that’d be awesome.

  16. Lori says:

    Not a huge country music fan with I will be checking this out for JJ! I miss Lucky on GH but I’m glad JJ got this opportunity to shine! I hope it goes well!

  17. Lula J Smith says:

    Watching Jonathan Jackson grow up on GH, (what great adventures they had) and always being a huge fan of his, I have tried to view any TV productions or movies that he has acted in (that I was aware of). Now, even though I am not a country music fan and was not planning on watching Nashville, I will tune it in to watch my favorite actor and hope he has enough on screen time each week to make it worth it!

  18. Maddie says:

    I miss Lucky on GH don’t get me wrong I love Avery and I’m happy for JJ but it’s odd because right around the time he left this last time they stopped putting Cameron and Aiden on camera and it was even harder when the whole babySwich thing happened and Liz would talk about Jake and the whole time I’m sitting there watching and thinking… Bring Elizabeth back her boys(and I don’t just mean Cam, Aiden and possibly maybe one day Jake)

  19. Kathie says:

    I see that this thread started before the first season, but I will tell you that I love Nashville.
    I’m not a country music fan, but love the music on the show. it’s not whiny and twangy like what is on the radio. I like that the characters do their own singing and playing. Besides the adults, Maddie and her sister are wonderful. So accomplished for such a young age.
    Yes, this is sort of a nighttime soap opera and even though I quit daytime ones (cold turkey) in July ’98, I really like Nashville. My sister IS a country music fan and hasn’t watched this show. I really got after her to start at the beginning with Netflix or HULU, not sure where else she could go. The dvds should be out soon if not already.