“It was a burden I had to carry to try to justify this story, and that’s why I don’t do it anymore. When a woman says no, you have to listen.”
If there’s a defining moment in American soap operas, it’s Luke and Laura’s wedding on “General Hospital.” The wedding of the super couple (played by Anthony Geary and Genie Francis) was a major television event when it premiered in November 1981, drawing 30 million viewers to the ABC series and making the duo one of the most iconic couples in soap history. .
But as famous and loved as the couple is, their relationship started off on an extremely ugly note. In an October 1979 episode, Luke raped her, and although the show initially played it as such, the popularity of the pairing later saw the event as “seduction”. Although the characters remained together for years, their love story was a major part of the series until Geary left the cast in 2015, the attack casting a large shadow over their other storylines. And Francis, reflecting on the scene decades later, doesn’t think the storyline should be protected.
Francis, now 60, spoke about the rape scene at the ABC Television Critics Association winter press conference on the “General Hospital” panel. Francis said he was 17 years old while filming the scene and did not understand the gravity of the event he was portraying. But looking back, he said the scene was “inappropriate” and refused to defend it any further.
“As a young kid, 17 years old, I was told to play rape, I played it and I didn’t know what it was. At 60, I don’t feel the need to defend that anymore,” Francis told the TCA panel. “The story was inappropriate and I do not condone it. It was a burden I had to carry to try to justify this story, and so I won’t do it anymore. When a woman says no, you have to listen. When you play that scene, you don’t just have to say no, you have to shout ‘no’.”
Francis’ association with “General Hospital” since he left the series in 1984, resurfaced from 1993 to 2002, followed by guest appearances in 2006, 2008 and 2013. Since 2015, when Francis returned in Luke’s exit storyline, Francis has been one of the soap’s main characters, Laura has become mayor of the fictional town of Port Charles and remarried psychiatrist Kevin Collins (Jon Lindstrom).
“General Hospital” is shown weekdays on ABC. The show’s 60th anniversary is on April 1st, with holiday episodes beginning in late March and a special episode honoring late character Sonya Eddy, followed by the annual “Nurses Ball” storyline and the return of former character Jane Elliot. Showrunner Frank Valentini is executive producing the series, while Chris Van Etten and Dan O’Connor serve as co-writers.
Tony Maglio contributed to this report.
Register: Stay up to date with the latest movie and TV news! Subscribe to our email newsletter here.