During last week’s on-set celebration for General Hospital’s Emmy victories at the 39th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards, On-Air On-Soaps chatted with Jason Thompson (Patrick) to get the inside scoop on the good Dr. Drake’s drug problem … and the return of Kimberly McCullough (Robin) on this week’s episodes where Patrick sees a vision/ghost of Robin!
Jason also discusses the possibility of a romance between Patrick and Lulu (played by Julie Marie Berman) and the good faith that has been given to Thompson from the producer and writers at General Hospital to carry the ball in some very heavy storylines, and how he relishes the opportunity to portray them. Here’s what Jason had to tell us below about Patrick’s current plights, working on GH post-Kimberly McCullough, and what may lie ahead.
Did you know Patrick was going to be an amphetamine freak?
JASON: Yeah, kind of. I hadn’t been here for a couple weeks and came in and was doing my very first scene. Our executive producer, Frank Valentini, pulled me aside and said, “You have a drug problem.” I said, “What? What do you mean I have a drug problem?” And Frank says, “Well, we are giving you a drug problem.” So I said, “When?” He said, “Now!” So, I then said, “Let me get this straight. In between my rehearsal and my take I have a drug problem?” He said, “Yeah.” I said, “OK.” I then said, “Do you know what drug it is?” He said, “No. We don’t know that stuff yet.” So long story short, I kind of knew. At the beginning, it was fun to play and not have it written in the script, but just play it within myself where I would be playing different kinds of energies, but not have it written that I am taking pills and everything. Once that starts to kick-in it has a tendency to become just about that. I did not want it to be about everything I was doing. It was a thing Patrick was on while he was going about his life, so why would anybody know? So it was me who knew I was taking them to help Patrick get through the day. I made a point to know when I would be taking them and when they would be wearing off. Then slowly he gets more hooked on the drugs and then that is where it kind of hit, that it became too much and things began to fall apart for Patrick.
I will tell you why I liked this. Because I was wondering, but never really knew, what drug he was actually on. So at first, it was a bit of a mystery.
JASON: A lot of people were saying, “Well, I don’t understand how he could be all fine after that?” And I did not want to say anything about it, because I was glad people were reacting that way, as that was part of it. Part of it was being on the drugs and getting out of bed and getting through the day with an energy that Patrick hasn’t had in a very long time. It wasn’t being written in, so I could just play in my own kind of way.
I was glad that is was speed rather than tranquilizers! We have seen so many soap characters take that road to cope.
JASON: There is a lot of ways this could’ve gone. They could have put him on anti-depressants which could have changed the energy. But at that point with different people stopping by his house to tell him to get off the couch and shave and everything, it had to become something like that. And once he was able to get out of the house, it was about just being able to get out of the house, and getting back to work. At the beginning there are things that Patrick did, like Ewen’s surgery, and who knows how much he had taken at that point, if any. It was fun to play in my own world and not have it knocked over Patrick’s head in every scene about taking a pill.
So here is my take on the whole thing: I think the GH powers-that-be realize this guy, Jason Thompson, is such a great actor, and we saw it so clearly through the whole Robin exit story that I think they are making you one of the leading characters on the show. They know they have gold with you and you can handle the big emotional stories! Thoughts?
JASON: I have always felt they believed in me here. I personally thrive when there is something to play. I really enjoyed playing the Robin character leaving/dying, or whatever that is, because I had something to do. Not that I don’t enjoy just being in the hospital, because that can be fun, too. I think everybody is very capable here at GH when they are given something, and when it is written in a way that you can really get under as an actor. Personally, I have put a lot of work into my role at GH for the last six months. I have tried to really be here, and really be focused, and start down on my dressing room before I get to the stage. So it’s not just, “OK. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1!” No. I am doing what I am doing a half hour before I get up here. I am really trying to concentrate on being the best that I possibly can, and being as honest as I possibly can, and putting as much energy I need to in the scenes. I felt I also had a responsibility for the Robin character. I wanted to make sure with that kind of pressure, and with the importance of that storyline, I wanted to make sure I did everything I could for it. I feel like I did that. Not all of it worked, but most of it did. I watched it back and sometimes I feel I didn’t connect sometimes 100% as much as I could, but that is not possible with every single scene. You can’t always hit a home run. I welcome more work and more challenge. If I am here I want to work and portray story as well as I can. And if Ron Carlivati (GH’s head writer) and Frank Valentini trust me to do that, then I am all for it.
Well, I kind of hope his drug issue spirals more out of control where he might go to the streets and start slamming meth. That would be an amazing story to play. I mean people go to great lengths with addictions, and do things other people in their lives would never know about it.
JASON: The drug Patrick has been taking so far is Adderall. If they think, as you suggest, that is the direction the character needs to go I am not about not portraying it, because humans are capable of very crazy stuff that you can’t even imagine. We are in a medium where the camera is in the room of privacy. I have to be as private as possible in those moments, even though there are millions of people watching this character. At the end of the day, it’s this guy going through it.
So this week, Robin returns in what appears to be a ghost with an ominous message for Patrick, and fans get to see you and Kimberly McCullough together for the first time since her exit. What can you preview?
JASON: The Robin character comes back this week in some ghost form. Kimberly McCullough was leaving for a vacation in Europe along with Finola Hughes (Anna). So we had to shoot that material more than a month ago. So last week Julie Marie Berman (Lulu) and I shot scenes that were supposed to be from that exact same day. So it’s all over the place. It was difficult to come to work that day because I was going, “OK. Where was I? What was going on?” So the second after Robin is gone, we just shot last week. So it was a lot, but it was a challenge. It was about being present and remembering what it was like to go through that almost a month ago! I don’t know that much more for Patrick’s future, but I know he goes to the hospital. I don’t know if he goes through with the detox or the rehab, or not.
So I am thinking Lulu and Patrick could be a romantic item! I am placing bets on that one.
JASON: Is that right? Patrick is in an interesting place right now. He is a little bit of a lost soul, but he is by no means over Robin. It’s not a clean slate for Patrick by any means. However, he has got a lot to get through. This could go on for ten years getting over a loved one. That is the other challenge. There are no rules on how to grieve, and everybody does it all completely different. So this is what people are seeing … what I think is Patrick’s process.
OK, so what do you think about Julie Marie Berman?
JASON: I love Julie. I have said for years she is one of the best on this show. You don’t have to look anywhere else. You are in a scene with her and I know that there are moments that I need to reconnect, and I know if I just look at her I get it back. I know that. If I am in a scene and I have to look at her in the eyes, boom! I am connected back instantly. And that is wonderful trait to have in an acting partner. I had that with Kimberly McCullough for so long, because I knew she was there. Once Kimberly was on the set, she was there. Julie is the same way. She cares about it, and working with Julie more would be great!
Right, so the set-up would be: Robin trundles back to Port Charles alive and Patrick is now heavily involved with Lulu!
JASON: Yeah right … the next year! I miss Kimberly all the time. Whether it’s just Kimberly in her dressing room hanging out, or on set where I tell her, “I don’t know what to do with this scene.” That help me type stuff. I got so much out of our relationship and friendship. I miss that, but I am enjoying a different part of Patrick. He is kind of treading waters with no limbs, realistically. He is kind of bobbing around with nowhere to go, and I kind of like that. It’s been fun to explore. I probably will get flack for saying this from a lot of people, but I don’t want Robin to come back too soon. I think it’s a better story if he moves on and she comes back and blows his mind! To me, we need some distance from that in order for it to have an impact later.
Where do you think Robin is? Who has her, Jason?
JASON: She’s dead! (Laughs) To Patrick, she is gone. No one here ever told me who had her. I have not asked and I have not paid attention to that. When they asked me about it I walked in the other direction, because I had to play the fact that she was gone and I don’t want anything else in my head like, “Oh, she is really with a nurse!” OK Michael, I will say this. I know she is with a nurse. And, she is screaming for somebody. (Laughs)
So soapers after reading Jason’s comments, what do you want to see happen for Patrick? New love with Lulu? Robin to return sooner than later? And, where would you like to see the good docs drug dependency go? Do you want it to continue? Or, do you want it to end? Let us know your thoughts!