Fall TV Preview

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.

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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.

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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.