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John Ingle: Big Love

John Ingle‘s longevity in the acting world — first as a teacher for 30 years at Hollywood High School, Beverly Hills High School, Los Angeles City College and UCLA, and then as a performer — hasn’t dampened his love for the craft. While he relishes his full-time gig as the Quartermaine patriarch on GENERAL HOSPITAL, he still craves the challenge and thrill of tackling outside projects. Ingle continually tests for commercials and makes guest appearances in prime time. In fact, last season, he had a pivotal guest spot as Ernest Holloway on HBO’s BIG LOVE.

Soap Opera Weekly: Was it exciting to be part of a show like BIG LOVE?
John Ingle: The two years that I felt artistically unrewarded on DAYS OF OUR LIVES (as Mickey Horton) were so eclipsed by my two episodes on BIG LOVE. I just thought, “Wow! This is what acting is. This is what we die for.” I loved doing it, and I really took pride in the product. I love the show, and I like the people, of course.

Weekly: Were you sad to see your character written off the show?
Ingle: The night that we were shooting my final episode, when they put Ernest Holloway on a bus and sent him away, I said to the show’s writers, “Next season, if you could figure out a way to bring me back from Tucson, where I’ve been with my brother, I’ll buy my bus ticket. Then, we could get into the courtroom, because I’ve got the goods to nail that son of a bitch Roman.” The writers said, “Never count anything out, John.” And I don’t. So many people have said to me, “God, you’ve got to come back. You have all this information that can trap the villain.” Yet, I don’t know that I will. They could easily say, “Yes, Ernest Holloway was a nice man, but he died in Tucson.”

Weekly: You also have a recurring part in the animated Land Before Time films. What has that experience been like?
Ingle: We’ve done 13, so far. We do one a year. I do the narration for each of the movies at the opening, and I play the angry triceratops. He’s the father of the lead girl, Cera. He has three horns and is always angry and stomping his feet. Somebody asked me, “Do you have to do anything different to play a dinosaur?” I said, “No, this triceratops is amazingly like Edward Quartermaine, except he is a dinosaur and has scales and three horns.”

Weekly: Is there another sequel in the works, yet?
Ingle: They are now doing a weekly cartoon series called LAND BEFORE TIME with the same characters. I’m not working in all of those; probably just about half. They don’t have a narrator in all of them. I do them on Wednesday afternoons. It keeps me busy.

Weekly: It sounds like you enjoy moonlighting on different projects.
Ingle: It’s stimulating for me as an actor. I had a nice career going with commercials before I landed GENERAL HOSPITAL. I had some very good success, but commercials are a crap shoot. It’s all about, Do you look like this type of person? I went on a call for a Hallmark commercial a couple of weeks ago, and there were probably 30 grandfather-types there. I did my bit, and it was ok. My commercial agent called and said, “You got a call back.” I said, “Oh, good.” Well, there were at least 20 guys, 20 grandpa-types, on the call back and I thought, What the hell is this? This isn’t a callback, this is another cattle call. I like my commercial agent and I’ve been with him a long time, but I’m about to call him and say I really don’t want to do this any more unless somebody calls and says, “You know who we really need for this commercial is John.” And they won’t. It’s not that I’m too good. And I hate to say that I’m too old, but I really don’t think in terms of my ego that I need that. I’m satisfied working on GENERAL HOSPITAL with Tony Geary (Luke). It’s really rewarding.

Weekly: As someone with so much experience, do the younger actors on GENERAL HOSPITAL ever seek you out for advice?
Ingle: They did before, quite a lot, but they really don’t, now. I never would push myself onto anybody. I watch the monitor when I’m in my room. Sometimes, I would love to say to an actor, “You’re missing the beats here,” or, “Your eye contact there.” But I never do. If someone would ask me, “What do you think about this?” Then, I would, of course, tell them. I was a pretty hard taskmaster as a teacher. If you ask any of my students, they would tell you that.