Interview

ICYMI: Catching Up With GH’s Ingo Rademacher (Jax)

California Whirl: Ingo Rademacher Dishes His Short-Term Comeback To GH

Ingo Rademacher

Credit: Steven Bergman

On August 1, Ingo Rademacher returned to the role of Jax, the wealthy white knight who gave Sonny a run for his honey (Brenda) when he blew into Port Charles in 1996.

Both character and actor have evolved quite a bit in the 20 years that have, somehow, elapsed since then (“I still feel like I’m 20!” Rademacher professes). When he first joined the show, “I was in my mid-20s, when you think you know it all,” he recalls. “What a world of difference that was! I was single and it was all about work, putting my head down and working as hard as I could. Now it’s [trying to] work as little as possible and spend as much time with my kids and my wife as I can.”

As Jax, Rademacher was an immediate hit, as was the Sonny/Brenda/Jax love triangle in which he quickly became embroiled. At the time, he took his success somewhat for granted. “I had been a lead on the Australian soap,” PARADISE BEACH, on which he starred from 1993-94 before moving to the States, “so I was expecting to come on [to GH] and be one of the leads,” he explains. “But now, I can look back on it and go, ‘Wow, that was one of the all-time best love triangles.’ It didn’t last very long, because Vanessa [Marcil, ex-Brenda] left and Maurice [Benard, Sonny] left for a while, too. But to this day, people talk about, ‘Jax and Brenda or Sonny and Brenda?’ People are still rooting for one of them to sail off into the sunset [with her], and who knows what could happen if the soap stays on for another 20, 30 years?”

The passage of time and his own passage through GH — he left in 2000, returned the following year and exited again in 2011, visiting in 2012 and 2013 — have given him a new appreciation for that old Jax magic. “Having been away for really the last five years, I do kind of look back and go, ‘Yeah, I could have been nicer,’ ” he admits. “I was always easy to work with, I think, but now I look at it and go, ‘You know, it really is a great job, to be an actor on a daytime show.’ You have a different attitude when you step away from it for a while. Sometimes you forget how lucky you have it; some actors lose sight of that when they keep going to work every day, year after year, so it’s nice to kind of see it from a distance, from a different perspective, a more mature perspective.”

“Different” and “more mature” seem like fitting descriptions for the sea change in the actor’s personal life since meeting, marrying and having two high-energy boys with Hawaii native Ehiku. Their love story, he reports, did not kick off very promisingly: They met on the beach after Rademacher bought a house in her home state but, he recounts with a laugh, “I crashed and burned, pretty much, for like three months. I had kind of let it go, like, ‘Bummer,’ because I was really interested, and finally she came around and agreed to go out with me. It went pretty quickly from there. We started dating in September or October, and over Christmas, we took a trip to Europe. I pretty much said, ‘You’ve gotta move to L.A., otherwise, this isn’t going to work.’ ”

She did move — and it did work. Rademacher says that he was more than ready to give up the bachelor life. “I was 35, I think, and was probably ready sooner than that,” he muses. “Maybe I just couldn’t find the right person — or maybe I thought I was mature but I wasn’t! Even at 35, I still had a lot to learn about relationships.” But when he knew, he knew, and when he met Ehiku, he says, “I was like, ‘My search is over!’ ”

When he wrapped up at GH in 2011, the duo — by then married and parents to firstborn son Peanut — had a major decision to make. “The choice would have been to either stay in L.A. and try to get something else or pack up and leave and just see what happened. We were definitely due to go back to Hawaii because she had been over here for so many years. It was just a decision that we made very quickly and then we kind of fell into starting our company,” Mahiku Activewear. “We were smart and started off slow, with just a pair of pants in a few different colors, and now we’ve almost got a full line.”

Though his acting career is no longer his primary focus, Rademacher still works here and there (“People ask me, ‘Are you retired?’ and I’m like, ‘No, not really, I’m 45!’ ”), but he prefers to do it in Hawaii; and when he finishes his return trip to GH, it’s back home to work on the new season of HAWAII FIVE-0. “I got on that as soon as I moved there, and they don’t allow you to come back and play a different character, but they made an exception for this role that I’m playing now,” Robert Coughlin, “a nice recurring role, which was really cool of them to do. There had been sort of a dry spell of shows coming through there, but it’s kind of busy right now; all of a sudden, my managers are getting phone calls.”

So he’s particularly glad that his schedule, and GH’s, worked out to accommodate a Jax comeback. Four episodes into his return at the time of this interview, Rademacher can sum up slipping back into the character in a word: “Comfortable. I’ve known Maurice and Laura [Wright, Carly] and Nancy [Lee Grahn, Alexis] and so many producers and members of the crew for so long. I got Nancy good; I said, ‘Did you know it’s been a whole year since I’ve been here?’ She was like, ‘No way!’ I go, ‘Actually, it’s been three,’ and she was like, ‘Oh, my God!’ It doesn’t feel like that at all; that’s how comfortable it is.”

He remains grateful to GH for setting him on his current path. “Being on the show for so long has allowed me to do the things that I’m doing now, living in Hawaii and raising the family there and starting a business,” he says. “It’s been my building block.”

Just The Facts

Birthday:April 22

Provenance: Born in Germany, but moved to Australia when he was 10.

Just The Four Of Us: He married wife Ehiku on October 3, 2009, and they are the proud parents of two sons, Peanut, born on July 11, 2008, and Pohaku, born on May 13, 2012. “We have a really, really tight family unit.”

Face First: When Rademacher reunited with co-star Maurice Benard (Sonny), “The first thing that he did was morph his face onto mine and put it on Snapchat. Why say hello when we’re going right back to what we were doing before?”

Island Time: The Hawaii-based actor loves hanging out with GH pals like Kelly Monaco (Sam) and Kimberly McCullough (ex-Robin) on their trips to the island. “Kimberly comes out a bunch and my kids just love her. After her last trip here, they called every girl Kimberly.”

Water, Baby! When the actor arrived in L.A. to report to work at GH last month, “I went straight to the marina, took my board out, and went on a five-mile paddle. It keeps me sane.”

Transportation Glitch: Rademacher has been rolling up to the GH studio in the big Sprinter van he keeps in California, which has caused some confusion at the security booth. “They always say, ‘Sir, you here for a delivery?’ I go, ‘No, I play one of the characters on the show. This is my personal vehicle!’ ”

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