Interview: GH’s Genie Francis talks return, Geary exit, Lucky search
“I remember it being sort of exhilarating and terrifying at the same time, and I knew I had to step up my game.”
Every time Genie Francis returns to “General Hospital” to play the legendary Laura Spencer, it seems all is right again in Port Charles. But none of her returns over the years have been as poignant as her recent arrival to help usher out her longtime costar and super couple counterpart as Anthony Geary leaves General Hospital as Luke Spencer after 37 years.
Francis took the time to speak with Soaps.com about her first-ever scenes with Geary as a teenager in the hospital coffee shop, their still-controversial rape storyline, and what her future on the show might be.
Soaps.com: So it looks like you’re going on one last adventure with Tony as Luke and Laura.
Francis: I know, it is so sad!
Soaps.com: What details can you give us about what is ahead?
Francis: I think now it has been revealed on the air that we are in search of our son Lucky who has disappeared, and that is what sends us off on our journey. And beyond that I can’t really tell you because it goes on for a while like that.
Soaps.com: What do you remember about your first scenes ever with Tony when you first started working together?
Francis: I can remember that vividly. Laura was a cheerleader, and she was with Scotty [Kin Shriner] and she was doing cheerleading for her high school, and I think he met me first in the park as a cheerleader, and then in the hospital coffee shop we had a scene where we ran into each other. And I don’t remember what the conversation was or what we were talking about, but I remember it was one way in dress rehearsal and way different when we taped. And when we started to tape, we were sitting down eating something and he took his food and he did all these crazy things, dumping salt and pepper and doing all this crazy stuff as he talked with his food, and it was just – I hadn’t worked with anybody like that before who improvised in the moment, and I remember it being sort of exhilarating and terrifying at the same time, and I knew I had to step up my game. And that was really my feeling about it, that I really wanted to keep up with him. I think I might have been just 17, or the end of 16.
Soaps.com: Did you ever anticipate how iconic your coupling would be?
Francis: Oh God no, how could you anticipate that? It was like lightening in a bottle. It is beyond what anyone could ever imagine.
Soaps.com: What do you attribute that to? What was it about the two of you?
Francis: I don’t know, really. If I had the answer to that I would be the most successful producer in Hollywood. It is amazing how people fell in love with those two characters so, so quickly. I know that when Gloria [Monty] started pushing my character forward, she actually told my father, she sat us down and said this was going to change Genie’s life. The idea was, the show was on from 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM in a major part of the country and the kids were home from school. And to use a kid who was the same age to try and capture that audience. So I know that was what they were doing with me, and they started with that almost immediately after Gloria came on. So they were pulling in a young, young audience. And then with Tony’s entrance, they just went crazy with that coupling.
Soaps.com: Luke’s rape of Laura, followed by their romance, is still one of the most controversial storylines in soap history. How did you feel about that progression, and is it different than what you felt at the time?
Francis: You have to remember at that time, I might have been 18, I might have been 17. I was doing what I was told to do. And Gloria told me to play rape, and I played rape. And later on down the line when they saw how controversial it became, they sort of changed it to what Gloria called rape seduction. Which may be in the category of what they now say date rape is like. But they did try to backpedal it at that time. Again, I was so young I was just following directions and doing what I was told to do and I didn’t think that much about it because I didn’t know enough.
Now, when I look back on it I look at it in a different way than Tony thinks of it. I think of it more as, they both gave into their passions and I think she did say "no" at the very last, last moment, and they consummated the relationship anyway. And then what I believe happened is she freaked out because she had committed adultery because she was married to Scotty, and she called it rape. That is what I think happened. It was a grey area where she knew she was playing with fire in a way. I think it was a grey area and she for a long time carried around a sense of guilt about having invited it. Really, at the end of the day, it does fall into the date rape category because I did say no and he didn’t listen.
Soaps.com: Tony may be leaving, but what does the future hold for Laura on "General Hospital"?
Francis: I don’t know. I do know that I stay around for a while. I am hoping that they will find a way to keep Laura on board, because I have always believed if Laura was alive and well that she would be in Port Charles, because that is where her family is, where her kids are, where her grandchildren are living. If she is not married to somebody in Paris, I can’t see her living there all by herself, I just can’t. It makes sense to me that she would stick around Port Charles. In order for that to work for a story point they would have to come up with a way to use me that was interesting for people to watch now. But that is in the writer’s hands. It’s not in mine. But let’s cross our fingers and be cautiously hopeful.
Soaps.com: Luke and Laura have not been romantic for a while. Will there be one last romance for the two, one last spark?
Francis: So far I don’t think that’s the case. Tony has played for a long time that he has moved on. For many years he has played that he has moved on, so I think it would be tough for him to backpedal that right now. He was right in the middle of a moment with Tracy [Jane Elliot] where he was completely in love with her. So I don’t know. Tony is really protective of his character and what he’s been doing, so it may not make sense for the Luke character to go there.
Soaps.com: How was it working with Jonathan and Tony, all three of you again?
Francis: Oh my God, it was just so nice. Such a happy, happy time on the set. I don’t know what to say, but when Jonathan walked in everyone just started hugging each other. We hugged Jonathan and then all looked at each other and hugged each other. It was really very sweet.
Read Soaps.com’s interview with General Hospital’s Michelle Stafford for information about Rosalie’s secret!
Photo credit: Jill Johnson/JPI
- Hollie Deese