General Hospital's Anthony Geary Talks Emmys, Booze and Luke's Four-Way Romance
He may need a bigger mantel. General Hospital's Anthony Geary won the first of his record six Daytime Emmys as outstanding lead actor exactly 30 years ago, and now he's up for a seventh. Will he triumph again when the gold is passed out June 23? He's sure got our vote! TV Guide Magazine spoke with the man, the myth, the legend to get his take on all this Emmy love.
TV Guide Magazine: Congrats on the nom — your 14th! What would one more Emmy mean to you at this point?
Geary: It's an affirmation I'm still in the picture. There were several years where I was kind of slipping through the cracks at GH. But this time they went out on a limb and gave me some really dark, emotionally raw material.
TV Guide Magazine: And how. Luke Spencer accidentally killed his own grandson, then refused to admit he's an alcoholic when his loved ones staged an intervention. Could it get any worse?
Geary: A lot of people were unhappy they made Luke that much of a loser but I loved it. We're so scared to take chances anymore, so afraid to risk displeasing viewers. I'm lucky enough to have lived through the good old days at GH when shocking and confronting the audience was what we did.
TV Guide Magazine: Say what you will about [fired head writer] Bob Guza — the good, the bad and the ugly — but he gave you your best material ever.
Geary: I agree. There were times Guza certainly infuriated me, so I'm not saying he wasn't flawless but, when he did provide, it was pretty grand. I remember the day he called me to his office and said, "We're going to have little Jake run down by a driver. There are several ways I can go but I want the killer to be Luke. What do you think?" I said, "Please let me kill the child!" I was so tired of having nothing to do that was challenging. It turned out to be a very difficult few months for all of us...in a good way.
TV Guide Magazine: People were surprised you didn't submit your big intervention episode to the Emmy judges, since it's one of the two episodes GH submitted for best soap. What was your thinking there?
Geary: They also submitted the intervention show for directing and writing. It was a great episode, and Bill Ludel has already won the Directors Guild award for it. But I decided to go with a simpler show, the one that aired a bit after the intervention where Lucky tracked down Luke at the brothel. I suppose the intervention was a more spectacular thing, but I thought maybe there was too much trickery — what with all the technology and the flashbacks — for an actor's submission.
TV Guide Magazine: And sometimes those episodes that scream "showcase" really backfire with the judges.
Geary: Exactly. Jonathan Jackson [Lucky] came to me and said, "I think you should relook at that episode at the brothel. It has a sort of mythic quality to it." So I did. It was a rough one. It even had Luke telling Lucky, "I feel liberated for having killed your child," which is just a horrendous thing to say and maybe too much for people. But I feel comfortable with it, basically because I feel so uncomfortable. That episode is difficult for me to watch and I'm way more exposed than I'm used to being. But if you're exposing yourself to the point where you have to look away, that pretty much says you're going the distance. Of course, with Jonathan that's what you always do. For my money, he's one of the five best actors on the planet. He just unzips his heart and bleeds for ya. We've known each other for so long now that our connection is almost on a spiritual level.
TV Guide Magazine: You are showing up on Emmy night, right?
Geary: I'm very happy to be there this year, especially since it's not in Vegas. I don't know that I could have sat through one more ceremony featuring Elvis impersonators and French-Canadian bungee jumpers.
TV Guide Magazine: Where do you keep your Emmys?
Geary: There are four on my mantelpiece in L.A., and two at my home in Amsterdam, because I won them in New York when I was on my way to Amsterdam. It made no sense to bring them back to the U.S. Four on a mantle is quite a lot. Any more would tend to look a little greedy.
TV Guide Magazine: So, if you win yet again, will you get up there like Meryl Streep and apologize?
Geary: I would...[Laughs] but I don't feel that way!
TV Guide Magazine: So where is Luke these days in regard to Jake's death? You think he's serious about staying off the booze?
Geary: He will always lived haunted by the death of that child — you'd have to unless you're a sociopath — so there will always be regret, guilt, sadness. It's now a part of him and it has taken him to a deeper, more human place. He always knew he wasn't a hero. Now he knows there's a villain inside him. As far as the drinking goes, I don't think he's worried about what would happen to him if he went back to the bottle. It's more like he doesn't want to go through all the s--t people will give him if he does drink. He doesn't want all that f---ing noise. I do believe he could have a drink and walk away from it. He was never the delirium tremens kind of guy. He never woke up in the morning thinking about having booze. He still doesn't think he's an alcoholic and I agree. At the same time, he did handle a lot of his feelings by getting drunk...and truthfully that started when they had nothing else for me to do. That was the bad side of the Guza years.
TV Guide Magazine: Were you ever worried Luke might not spring back from killing his grandchild? That maybe the audience wouldn't want you back?
Geary: I did wonder, since my contract negotiations were coming up, if maybe that was the end for me. But Luke's an amazingly facile character and they slowly folded him back in. Our new executive producer, Frank Valentini, wants to see more of the old mischievous Luke.
TV Guide Magazine: To the point where your character is back to being comic relief and heading into a romantic quadrangle with Anna [Finola Hughes], Heather [Robin Mattson] and his ex-wife Tracy [Jane Elliot]. Who'da predicted that?
Geary: Not me! I never thought I'd see the day three women would be fighting over him! And me at age 60-blah-blah! Of course, one of them's a lunatic, one's a shrew and one's a crazy bitch. [Laughs] I'll leave it to you to figure out which is which.
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