Soap opera fans rarely get to see multi-award-winning daytime icon Anthony Geary now that he has retired from playing General Hospital character Luke Spencer and lives in Amsterdam, so it's quite a treat to see him via a video interview with his former GH costar Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis Davis).
The actor was a virtual guest on Grahn's series, Soaps In Quarantine, where he opens up about a multitude of interesting topics and sheds some light on rumors that followed him during his decades-long career.
The conversation starts out with how Geary handled his unexpected rise to national fame after he and Genie Francis (Laura Spencer) appeared on the cover of Newsweek early on in his time as Luke.
"It was intimidating, it was terrifying, it was too much too soon, it was all the things you hear. And you balance that with, 'Wow, my ego was really stroked,'" he recalls. "But I always had such a division between me and Luke Spencer, so when I saw [that cover]... I didn't really identify with it as me. I never did, actually."
He admits that he regrets the way he responded to that initial fame. In fact, he says he didn't handle it well at all, despite having had several years of acting experience under his belt when he landed the role of Luke in 1978.
"I was not savvy... it was just a whole other world that I could not wrap my head around, and the attention was way more than I bargained for," he says. "If I could redo it, I would do a lot of things different."
One of the things he wishes he could change about the past is playing Luke for as long as he did.
"If I had to do it again, I would have gone to New York," he shares. "I'd have done a year, two years maybe, and as soon as it got big, I would have gone to New York and tried to parlay that immediate [Newsweek] attention into something else. But you know what? I was having a great time. [Former GH executive producer] Gloria Monty treated me like a prince, and I loved working with Genie. In those days, it was all exciting and the scripts were good. I wasn't really thinking about the future."
In the end, Geary wore the shoes of Luke Spencer for nearly 30 years -- and as fans know, he wasn't always the easiest actor for various writing regimes to work with.
"I have always had a pretty contentious relationship with soap writers. Let's just put that on the table," he admits. "I worked with a whole lot of them, and I admired and respected most of them. But it was contentious when my work ethic clashed with their needs."
He continues, "I felt that Luke Spencer was an iconic character, and Gloria told me this before she left. [She said], 'You are going to have to protect this character, because nobody gets it, and they're going to pull you toward natural leading man stuff as you get older, and it's going to be difficult. You have to hold onto this core, this unusual man, or it won't last.' She was absolutely right. And you know I had some drag-out-knock-downs with many people, most of them writers... I was pretty arrogant about it. I really was. But I didn't mind being 'that actor' when it meant that I was protecting a character that I had given my f**ing life to."
For more from Geary, including what inner struggles he experienced after the intense storyline in which Luke raped Laura, check out his full interview below.
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