Alcohol has been a part of Luke Spencer’s life, since he debuted on General Hospital in 1978. But since learning he was responsible for the death of Elizabeth and Lucky’s son Jake, after –- he accidentally ran the child down, while under the influence –- the character’s drinking has spiraled out of control. So his concerned family stages an intervention on April 28. Anthony Geary (Luke) and Jane Elliot (Tracy) discuss the powerful episode.
What was your reaction when you heard they were going to tackle Luke’s drinking?
Anthony Geary: My reaction was, “I hope they write it well.” And I was not disappointed, because they have.
Drinking is so much a part of who Luke is. Were you concerned this twist might affect the essence of the character?
Anthony Geary: No, because I don’t think he’s going to change that much. I don’t think he’s going to end up a teetotaler. This was an opportunity to explode the family in a profound and dramatic way.
Jane Elliot: If Luke is affected and he is different, it won’t be because of the drinking. It will be because he killed a kid.
Anthony Geary: The big issue here has been diverted into his “alcoholism.” The true issue for Luke is that he killed a child. I don’t think he’ll ever get over that. That child is going to haunt him and be on his shoulder the rest of his life.
Tony, you referred to Luke’s alcoholism in quotes. Luke doesn’t think he has a problem. Do you?
Anthony Geary: No. He drinks [alcohol] like milk. I don’t see it as a problem, but this is a subjective thing. He uses alcohol and falls into the bottle, when he’s really depressed. I don’t see it as traditional alcoholism. I’m not that educated about alcoholism, so I may be talking out of my armpit. But I don’t believe he’s an alcoholic, and I don’t play him as an alcoholic.
Jane, do you see Luke as an alcoholic?
Jane Elliot: Tracy and Jane both see him as an alcoholic, now. Has he been an alcoholic all along? Maybe not. This episode where he ran over Lucky’s kid has triggered alcoholism. Now his drinking is out of control. Before he used to drink. It was a conscious part of his life. It was romantic. It was funny. It was part of his style. Now, he’s completely consumed with alcohol. It’s obscuring everything else in his life.
Who spearheads this intervention?
Jane Elliot: Lucky does. He finally manages to put his pain aside, and it’s no longer about the kid. It’s about his father and getting help for him, because he sees Luke is drowning. Tracy is just another member. There are his three kids (Lucky, Lulu and Ethan), Nicolas, Sonny, Carly and Tracy. We all hijack him and take him to this intervention.
Anthony Geary: Ethan sets him up. Lucky knocks him up, and when Luke comes to he’s taped to a chair in a warehouse with all of his family around him.
What is the most moving part of the intervention?
Anthony Geary: For Luke to be forced to hear from each one of these people — particularly, his wife and his three children — how much he means to them and how much they’re missing him. Because Luke hasn’t been fully engaged since the accident.
Jane Elliot: Everybody in the room, with the exception of Carly, has a personal memory that is the best of Luke. Everybody shows him the best of himself. It’s powerful to see a group of people rise to the occasion and try to explain to this man how much he means to them and why.
Did you strive to do all these scenes in one take?
Anthony Geary: They were pretty much all done in one take.
Jane Elliot: Just because everybody had their A game.
Anthony Geary: If anything was repeated, it was because of a technical glitch.
Jane Elliot: Everybody worked really hard on their own part. There were long monologues. We had pages to learn. They hired prompters for us. Nobody used them. I walked by one of the guys, and he was fast asleep. He never got up off his chair. Nobody ever used him, because we all invested ourselves in it. It was wonderful to have something to really sink our teeth into and to watch each other. There’s a point in each person’s exchange where they are alone with Luke. So we all went down to our dressing rooms, looked at the monitors, and watched each other do their bit. It was enthralling to see these actors expose themselves.
Will you tune in to watch this episode?
Anthony Geary: I definitely want to see this, because it’s different. It’s unique, and everybody brought their best game.
Jane Elliot: I want to see it. I want to see the piece done. It’s theater. It’s wonderful theater.
What are you hoping to get across in these scenes?
Jane Elliot: I have an agenda, and that is that everybody who watches it in the business realizes that we can still do something innovative. Even though the medium is in the back nine, we can still do something special. We can still step up to the plate. We don’t have to whimper on our way out the door. I want to leave with a roar, and this is a roar.
Anthony Geary: I want the audience to be moved and interested. I know that everybody I worked with delivered good performances. I think it’s a damn good show, and it’s very unique and different in the way it’s staged and shot.
What’s unique about it?
Anthony Geary: For one thing it’s all in one room, the whole show. Not just our scenes. The entire show is the intervention. The camera work is beautiful.
When all is said and done, does Luke admit he’s an alcoholic?
Anthony Geary: No, he doesn’t. He’s not going to accept that. But he does realize he has disappointed all the people he loves, that he had been unkind and pushed them all away. And that is not the way to deal with the issue of having killed a child. I don’t know how you deal with it. But he’s making other people around him pay, and I think he realizes that.
So the intervention is somewhat of a success?
Anthony Geary: Eventually, yes. He does come around and say, “OK. Take me to rehab.” Whether he stays there or whether it’s a success that he goes is not really anything that we can answer at this point.
How does this story compare to the myriad of others you’ve done?
Anthony Geary: This is probably the best story I’ve ever had in terms of being challenged and asked consistently to stay in this place of pain. It’s a tough one. I love the challenge of it. I’m loving doing it. It’s fun work. I just want to work. I just want to act. We’ve both gotten a little bit tired of being this show’s clowns. Although it’s fun to do and I love to make people laugh, we thrive on drama. We thrive on ripping our hearts open and bleeding for the people. This has been an opportunity to do that.