Jon Lindstrom Reflects on Returning to ‘General Hospital’ as Kevin’s Blind, Homicidal Twin Ryan
Jon Lindstrom is making up for those years he was away from Port Charles.
Last year, General Hospital viewers learned his homicidal twin, Ryan Chamberlin, is alive and well. The evil sibling managed to pull an Eva Grubb and switch places with Kevin, taking over his personal life and his practice as he goes on another killing spree!
TV Insider spoke to the actor shortly after he learned he received a Daytime Emmy pre-nomination in the category of Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his dual role. Read on to get the actor’s insights on this compelling story!
Congratulations on your pre-nomination!
Jon Lindstrom: Thank you very much. It was a great thing to wake up to. I found out by people on Twitter both me and many of my castmates, which I was particularly happy about. I think we have the best cast in daytime, but that’s my not-so humble opinion.
— Jon Lindstrom (@thejonlindstrom) January 25, 2019
What scenes were on your pre-nomination reel?
It was about four minutes total. A good 2 ½ minutes was twin [material] and I also had scenes on it with Maura West (Ava) and Genie Francis (Laura). I was in pretty good company — [wryly] besides myself.
There were rumors about Ryan first coming back when Carly (Laura Wright) was in Ferncliff sanitarium last year. There were a few subtle instances that made me think that the switch might have already occurred. Were you playing that it might have?
Yes and no. I was aware of the speculation and the rumors. Nothing had been said to me until the summer. Frank Valentini [GH’s executive producer] called me up and said, ‘I have a secret to tell you.’ I was aware of the speculation. I wasn’t playing Kevin any differently. It did become apparent that whoever the mystery person was [in the room next to Carly’s] could be Ryan. I said, ‘Well, if it is Ryan, then this is a big secret he’s been keeping,’ so I was playing that I had a secret, which, of course, Ryan did. It adds a layer to it and it gives people something to speculate about.
When you play both characters in the same scene, do you care which one you shoot first?
I don’t have a preference. It really all depends on the need of the show and what set they need to put up first and in what order. I’m usually playing Ryan first dressed up as Kevin and then we do Kevin in a straightjacket last.
How much fun are you having playing these two roles?
I’m having a blast. I haven’t had this much fun since I started the show in 1992. I include a lot of other jobs on that. I had a recurring role on the latest season on Bosch for Amazon and I had a blast on that, too. There’s a satisfying full circle to the whole thing [of reprising Ryan] that I’m just loving.
Ryan was a pediatrician, but never a psychiatrist, yet to keep up his charade, he ends up giving professional advice to Sonny (Maurice Benard) and Carly. Is he messing with people or giving therapy that he thinks might actually be helpful?
Had things not gone sideways for him he could have easily been a psychiatrist either equally good or better than Kevin. He’s always been a smart guy, very resourceful. But he has this aptitude. He’s manipulating people but he has a plan. The fact that he’s been locked up – and this is what I put in my head – he’s been tied up so long with Kevin hoping to redeem him somehow that this was all part of his plot. He was feeling that if he ever gets out of here his only hope is to pass himself off as his brother and so he has to be able to pull off what he does. He has to come off like a shrink. He probably read a lot of books [on psychiatry] when he was in there.
And you get to play blind! It sounds outlandish – playing twins, both of whom have been struck with blindness, and one is homicidal, but daytime fans accept these extreme scenarios and they go along for the ride because they’re invested in the characters.
That’s a really good point you make: the audience invests if we commit on-screen. My favorite example of seeing some play a blind character is still Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman. If you focus on nothing and let your hands do the talking, then, hopefully you’ll pull it off. But you have to commit. I’ve done a couple of takes where I’ve said I can feel myself ‘looking.’ I’ll ask if we can do it again. God love ‘em, they do it.
It’s interesting because we don’t think of something striking the bad guy like sudden blindness. What’s it like for Ryan to have been so vulnerable?
That’s the toughest situation for him. He’s gotten cocky. He assumed he’d killed Lulu (Emme Rylan) but didn’t. He saw her get up and then he gets hit with this. What’s that old staying? If you want a good laugh, tell God your plans. He thought he was off scot-free, but then this happened.
Ryan’s reason for killing Kiki (Hayley Erin) was perverse in that he thought it would please Ava.
Yes, and also pull her closer to him. It’s really dark.
Ryan was given a backstory and a tragic one at that. He’d been abused sexually by his mother and then his father took Kevin away but not Ryan; he was, essentially, abandoned by both parents. Yikes!
Yes. Ryan got a double whammy. If there was any message that said you’re really just worthless then that message was delivered to him big time. I’m glad you bring that up. There’s a certain responsibility to that. Yes, he’s the killer we all ‘love to hate’ and people are entertained by him, but I don’t want to forget there’s an extraordinarily damaged individual there, who’s probably beyond redemption —there’s nothing wrong with that certainly for storytelling, but at the heart of it, there’s an extremely messed up person there. This is what that kind of abuse does to people. This is what we do to human beings. I hope we can remind people of that. I think we will once we deal with the fallout, which I’m looking forward to.
Viewers can’t wait to see Ava’s response to find out Ryan killing her daughter and Laura’s to Ryan attempting to kill Lulu. If you’re watching this, you can’t leave now!
I agree you can’t leave now. Working with both [Maura and Genie] is working with the aces of the medium. How lucky am I? I get to work with both of them – [wryly] and myself!
Laura feels the marriage is over; Kevin doesn’t. Laura will learn the truth but she’s emotionally moved on. How will their relationship withstand this?
The rebuilding process ahead for Kevin has to be done. There has to be some kind of emotional betrayal on Laura’s part. We’re all allowed secrets, but the big bullet ones like my dead serial killer brother isn’t really dead and I’m the reason why [is a big one]. He should have shared that with his wife and he didn’t. Laura, I think, would be will within her rights to hold that against him to some degree. I think she’d see that Kevin’s a victim, which he is, but he might not have been if he’d been more open. There will be payback for them.
Any last shout outs to the team, who’ve made all this happen?
Everybody. Everybody. The people in Burbank at ABC [programming]. They had to approve this and they said, ‘Got for it, guys!’ The writers have been exceptional with the way the story’s been constructed and developed. This whole thing holds water and we haven’t even gotten to the explanation as to how [Ryan] survived in the first place. All the cast mates I’ve worked with have jumped in with both feet – Genie, Maura, Emme — everyone’s been excited and terrific. It’s been a fantastic journey.
General Hospital, Weekdays, ABC