This interview was originally published in the August 21, 2001 issue of Soap Opera Digest.
You Don’t Know Jax
You can’t say that Ingo Rademacher hasn’t learned his lesson. Recently returned to the role of GENERAL HOSPITALS’s dashing adventure/gazillionaire Jax — which he left behind rather firmly in 1999 — the actor resolved not to repeat one serious mistake he’d made during his last go-round in soaps.
“All I was thinking was, ‘Don’t go up [on-set] early on your first day. Just go up when your scene is called,’” he recalls, “because the first time I was on the set [in 1996], I was standing off to the side and I remember I Swallowed water and it went down the wrong way and it was right in the middle of a Tony Geary [Luke] scene. I’m off to the side coughing and splottering right in the middle of the scene being taped1 Everyone in the crew was staring at me; it was horrible. So, I don’t drink during takes anymore [laughs].”
This time around, he’s happy to say, his first day on-set was much less eventful (and spolttering-free). “Nothing funny happened this time,” grins Rademacher. “Actually, it felt like I never left. It was very comfortable. All the same people were there, the crew and everything. I’m happy to be back there.”
A sentiment that no doubt surprises even Rademacher himself, considering the disillusionment he expressed before and after his exit. “I didn’t have a storyline for the last year-and-a-half that I was there,” he relates. “For about three weeks after Brenda left, I was starting to enjoy doing some in-depth stuff, but they pulled Jax out of it and he went gambling in Monte Carlo. He needed more depth and variety. Jax can’t just be some dumb, little blonde kid who’s always happy, but doesn’t know why. I always said, ‘I don’t plan to go back to daytime, but never say never.’ You don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Another lesson the popular actor learned well late last year when the prime-time, Aaron Spelling-produced sudser TITANS, on which Rademacher was featured as bar manager David, went Titanic. “I loved working with Spelling,” he enthuses. “The work wasn’t exactly better than on GH, but the crew was fantastic, the cast was great. And work-wise, it was easy for me. You’re doing a 45-minute script, so I was working one, two days a week; loved that.”
Immediately after the show’s axing in December, Rademacher retreated Down Under. “I went to Australia. I hadn’t been there in four-and-a-half years. So, I went back to visit friends … I spent New Year’s Eve in Sydney. Then I came back and did pilot season. There were a couple of things that I probably could have done. But it just wasn’t a smart business move. I’ve gotten accustomed to a certain lifestyle and basically, I wanted to keep working.”
Apparently, a number of soaps were happy to oblige in that area. “There were offers from other daytime shows,” he admits, preferring not to elaborate. “But it would have meant moving to New York, and I didn’t want to do that. Believe me, I thought about it. I could grab my guitar and play in a local coffee shop and do the whole artist thing [laughs] and work really hard and have a little apartment. But then I was like, ‘Nah.’ I don’t want to change my quality of life. And it would be really hard for me to be away from the beach.”
With the West Coast winning out, Rademacher began looking toward his old stomping grounds. “The decision was, ‘We have to let GH know, out of courtesy… that we were open to offers,’” he explains. “That was always where I wanted to end up anyway. So, we started negotiating with them and it moved pretty quickly.”
Speeding along the negotiations were assurances from GH that both his storyline and character would reflect the “depth and variety” Rademacher was seeking. “I really didn’t have any input at all,” he shares. “I mean, I sat down with [Executive Producer] Jill [Farren Phelps] and said what I wanted. But the rest is up to them. You put your trust in their hands and hopefully, they’ll deliver. But … Jax is going to come back really strong this time. He’s turned from an overconfident kid to a man who is searching for the meaning of life. But he’s going to have that edge, especially in business.”
Something Rademacher already possesses, as evidenced by the outs negotiated into his contract that allow him to pursue extracurricular opportunities while on GH. “The plan is to do a couple of independent films within the next year-and-a-half. I had a few chances the last time I was on and I couldn’t get out to do them. [Having outs] this time was important to me.”
Of course, while the contract negotiations moved quickly, getting a tale in place for Jax’s return proved more time consuming. “I was supposed to be starting on June 5,” says Rademacher, who vacationed in Australia and Hawaii after re-signing. “But I found out they didn’t have an approved storyline yet or something. Then I heard I wasn’t coming back until August… and later I heard I was starting in July. I was really keen to get started, but when they said, ‘We’re going to delay it,’ I was cool with that. It gave me a chance to enjoy a little bit more of the summer, work out harder and get in good shape again.”
For some on-screen love scenes, perhaps? “I don’t know what’s going on with anything when it comes to romance for Jax,” he laughs. “I think I want him being pursued a bit.” As for the outcome of Jax’s search for true love Brenda, Rademacher shrugs, “We don’t really know what’s happened with Brenda, but I know [Vanessa Marcil, ex-Brenda] isn’t coming back. I think it would be unreal if she did…. So now it’s about finding someone you can have the same chemistry with. Whoever comes in, she’s got to be a good actress and she’s got to win over the fans. We’ll see what they throw in my path. I’m going to have a lot to say about it, though [laughs].”
As for Rademacher’s real-life love life, “I’m still looking for ‘the one,’” he smiles. “But I have a hard time going out on dates. There’s always that not-sure factor. When you go on your first date, there’s always that, ‘Are we going to go on a second date?’ And I hate that! I don’t like dealing with that, so I don’t go on dates; not often, at least. But I’m still putting myself out there. I’m just doing my own thing.”
Which isn’t to say he isn’t ready to settle down should “the one” come along. “I’ve always been at that point. But I don’t want to end up in a relationship with someone who I’m not 100 percent into, just for the sake of being in a relationship. That’s one of the worst things you can do; I know that.”
Rademacher also knows how focused he intends to be on this second GH stint. “Last time, I fell into a bit of a rut,” he nods. “Because the storyline was sh–, I just didn’t really care anymore. But don’t want that to happen this time around. I want to stay on top of things — from wardrobe to scripts, everything. I want to deal with the important things this time. “You know,” he adds, “when I decided to come back, there was that thing of, will people look at this like, ‘Oh, he’s coming back because he failed out there in the real world’? I was sort of expecting that a little bit, but I haven’t gotten that from anybody. This [return] doesn’t worry me at all because I think I made a great move on all levels. I’m excited to get back into this and hopefully do some really good work.”
JUST THE FACTS
Birthday: April 22
Wax Rhapsodic: “I didn’t get my old dressing room back, I got Amber’s [Tamblyn ex-Emily]. She left me lots of surprises. Lots of candle wax on the carpet [laughs], which is fine.”
Jax Of All Trades: “I’d like to get into writing and directing and things like that down the line. I’m just starting to do editing now, too, and I’m fascinated by it.”
Doing The Wave: “The best place I’ve surfed would have to be the North Shore in Hawaii.”
Best Perk Of Being On A Prime-Time Show: “Um, Nike returning my calls? Of course, now they’re not again [laughs].”
Green Gene: Rademacher is still an active supporter of Greenpeace.