Sunday, November 25, 2007
WHERE THE FIRE STARTS
Everyone deals with career frustrations. Actor Jonathan Jackson recently faced a huge one.
The winner of three Daytime Emmy Awards for portraying Lucky Spencer on “General Hospital,” Jonathan has also co-starred in major films like "Tuck Everlasting," "Insomnia," and "The Deep End of the Ocean." He planned to continue that trend with his latest project “The Dark Is Rising,” a fantasy film based on the novel by Susan Cooper.
Jonathan moved his wife and two children to Romania for three months so he could play the crucial role of The Walker in this big-screen adaptation. But while the film was being edited, the producers decided to rewrite the whole script and wound up editing out Jonathan’s character. (Editor’s note: They also wound up changing the title of the movie twice indicating a definite problem behind-the-scenes.)
During a recent interview on the radio program “Personally Speaking with Monsignor Jim Lisante,” Jonathan admitted, “That was a hard blow for me...It’s been an interesting journey of faith just to give that to the Lord and trust there’s a reason and purpose behind it.”
Jonathan’s Christian faith has led him to believe that taking his anger and frustrations to God is a normal and necessary thing to do – “I think God really wants our vulnerability and our honesty. So when I go to him in that place, what I get is a kind of transference from Him which I think manifests into faith. So faith…is a choice but it’s also a supernatural gift that God gives when we go to Him…and say ‘This hurts, this is hard, I don’t understand, but I’m going to come here and be honest with you and ask for help.’”
Asking for God’s help was something that came naturally to Jonathan at an early age. He started working on “General Hospital” when he was eleven years old, but never fell into the familiar trappings of drugs or self-absorption. He credits the Hollywood environment for pushing him toward a life of faith, not away from it. Jonathan recalls, “There was a polarizing thing that happened to me in moving to Hollywood at such a young age. It kind of put me in a position…to really choose what kind of a person I wanted to be because there definitely were things available to me in my teenage years that were much more available in Hollywood than they were in Washington where I grew up for the first ten years…In the end, I think it was a bit risky being thrown into a dark spiritual environment like that, but it ended up doing a great thing for me. It made me run to God and say, ‘This is the kind of person I want to be so I’m going to need your help here because I obviously can’t do this on my own.’”
Jonathan also credits his parents for giving him and his siblings a firm foundation of love and faith. He says, “A lot of people can talk…about God. Then there are those people that the love of God is just alive in their hearts. The things that they do are coming from a response to that intimate relationship. Looking at my parents…that was just the kind of people they were. They had such a gratitude in their hearts for everything that God had taken them through..There was just a real genuine love, not just for other people, but for each other. And you can’t overemphasize enough the importance of a father and a mother loving each other in the relationship and what that does to the kids – to look at daddy and mommy and say that they love each other, and that they have a covenant together that’s going to be forever. I know the kind of safety that put in my heart is absolutely incredible.”
Jonathan wanted the same kind of relationship when he eventually got married so he felt sure that he would never marry an actress. Then God and His inimitable sense of humor led him down a different path.
In 2002, Jonathan married actress Lisa Vultaggio who he had met on “General Hospital.” Today, they are the parents of a son and a daughter. So what was the initial attraction? Jonathan says, “(Lisa) started coming to home groups and Bible studies that we were having...every weekend for over two years. There was no romantic thing going on there. We were a group of about twenty young people just seeking the Lord…I got to see (Lisa) fall in love with Jesus. From week to week, I would look in her eyes and see something different. It was a powerful transformation. She’d been through a lot of struggles in her life so the kind of rebirth and redemption that she had was just epic and beautiful. That was definitely the thing that drew me to her heart.”
Next to God, family, and acting, music is another passion close to Jonathan’s heart. He’s a member of the rock band Enation along with his brother Richard Lee, and their friends Daniel Sweatt and Michael Galeotti. The group’s goal is to create music that reflects the heartbeat of God. Jonathan says, “This last album we made was called ‘Where the Fire Starts.’ That title comes from…a lyric in one of the songs…‘Don’t Lose Heart.’ And the lyric is, ‘I know where the fire starts / It starts with the dream / I know where the dream goes when it passes through the fire.’ The idea is that when God gives us a dream, that dream gets taken through the fire…Look at Abraham and the dream that God gave him, and the process of faith he had to walk through. All of us, I think, walk through that fire. This album was about that process of when God gives you a dream and then you get taken through the fire of that dream - who do you run too, how do you get through that, and what happens to your heart and your faith in that process?”
Jonathan Jackson’s heart and faith have survived the challenges of making his dreams come true. And though his recent experience with “The Dark is Rising” was extremely disappointing, the dark will not overtake him. Instead he moves forward confident that, with God at his side, even better things are still to come.
(Enation's newest album "Soul Story" will be available Nov. 30.)