'One Life to Live' Star Mark Lawson Returns to 'General Hospital'

Michael Maloney
Exclusive ABC

We’re not sure exactly where Lulu's (Emme Rylan) "dating" excursions are going on General Hospital, but they’ve yielded a nice result for Llanview fans — Mark Lawson (ex-Brody, One Life to Live) popped up not too long ago as Dustin Phillips, one of Lulu's "non-date" dates.

And we have some good news: Tuesday, July 23, Lawson returns for some more screen time in Port Charles!

TV Insider chatted with the amicable actor about how he kept his return to soaps under wraps, outside projects, and which Marvel superhero he’d like to take a shot at playing. Read on for the scoop!

In this era of social media where very little stays secret, it was a nice surprise to see you pop up on GH. How’d it all come about and how did you keep it under wraps?

Mark Lawson: Thank you. It was really hard not to talk about it, but I hope the surprise was worth it! It came about from my staying in touch with Frank [Valentini, executive producer, who also helmed OLTL). We’ve always had a good relationship. I’ve been in the [GH casting] room a few times and it all worked out at the right time. I was offered the part of Dustin, which was really nice, after having tested for a few other things.

Did you check out the positive social media response to your appearance?

I will admit to yes, compulsively, looking at everything. I jumped up some followers, too. It was so nice to feel such a warm response. The whole thing has felt like a homecoming. It’s been eight years since I was on One Life. But it all feels very familiar, being back.

Have you found the work pace to have accelerated since you were last on daytime?

We were working pretty fast on One Life, but this is even faster. GH is such a well-oiled machine. Even though it’s faster, I haven’t felt the pressure.

10 Longest-Serving Stars of 'DAYS,' 'Y&R' & More Daytime Dramas (PHOTOS)

10 Longest-Serving Stars of 'DAYS,' 'Y&R' & More Daytime Dramas (PHOTOS)

These soap stars have graced our screens for decades. See where they rank!

Had you ever met Emme Rylan (Lulu) before?

I had not. We talked about when she was in New York [on Guiding Light as Lizzie] and there might have been a bit of an overlap. I had met Kirsten [Storms, Maxie] at some ABC Daytime/Broadway Cares events or at the Daytime Emmys. They have both been so gracious to me and it’s been great being around them. Everyone is welcoming.

Emme Rylan as Lulu (Walt Disney Television/Todd Wawrychuk)

You went on Instagram to thank everyone for the support once you were back on – still not giving away if we’d see more of Dustin!

I’m still trying to find a way to use social media that allows me to connect [with followers]. I’ve learned to use it to express my gratitude, which I feel is important. It can be lonely when you’re leading a creative life. I’m starting to learn that social media is a good way to reach out to people who are supportive. It’s important to reach out to people who are supportive.


You put a lot of workouts on your Instagram. You. Are. A. Beast!  

[Laughs] I often joke that I came out of the womb doing pushups. I don’t think that’s too far from reality. I was a very hyperactive kid. I learned to channel that at a very young age. I was active in high school, but I was more into solo sports like cross-country [running] or wrestling ... I got to do something with all my energy. I learned how therapeutic it is.

What else can you tell us about Dustin?

I’m trying to stay a little bit flexible on that. We’re taking it one day at a time right now. I gotta be honest, I like keeping him a bit of a mystery man for now. I do think he’s this lonely guy who has learned how to cover that up by being extroverted. He has to be [outgoing] because he’s a teacher, but there’s a loneliness there. Dustin can be dashing and charming, but, again, there’s some loneliness.

'General Hospital's Jacklyn Zeman Previews Bobbie's Medical Crisis

'General Hospital's Jacklyn Zeman Previews Bobbie's Medical Crisis

The daytime star also looks back at Bobbie and Scotty's passionate dynamic.

One Life’s cancellation was especially frustrating because the show was firing on all cylinders and had been for quite some time. What were your thoughts on the show ending and how Brody’s relationship with Jessica (Bree Williamson) was left open-ended?

I recall that the last scene on the last day at the studio was a scene I was in. I got to be a part of it with Bree and Erika [Slezak, Viki]. That in and of itself was hugely special and I carry that with me. Brody came in as a bit of a mystery and to see him go back to that life that he understood was something I was so grateful for. It was a way to really honor all the things that he’d been through. They gave me so much meat to work with. I liked that he was going to find another path in life. It was a heroic way to go out.

Bree Williamson as Jessica and Mark Lawson as Brody on One Life to Live (Donna Svennevik/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images)

And who knows — maybe Brody and Jessica found their way back to one another?

I like to think that maybe they did or if not, he learned how to let go and to soften a bit and learned how to love again in the future. Maybe he has his own private security company somewhere or he’s helping other vets recover from PTSD like Chris Kyle [whose life was dramatized by Bradley Cooper in American Sniper] was helping others.

What was a little challenging to me was that while I was on One Life, I got engaged and then, married. [My wife and I] were doing the back and forth thing between Los Angeles and New York. A lot of what Brody wanted out of life was what I really wanted, too. Brody and I kind of melded a little bit.

Cynthia Watros on What to Expect From Her Nina Reeves on 'General Hospital'

Cynthia Watros on What to Expect From Her Nina Reeves on 'General Hospital'

On Monday, June 17, the daytime vet will take over the role from the departing Michelle Stafford.

Does being on GH reunite you with any OLTL pals?

Yes. Roger [Howarth, Franco; ex-Todd, OLTL] is such a good guy to talk to. I’ve been lucky enough to work with so many of the legends like Erika and Robert Woods (ex-Bo), and now this next generation with people like Michael [Easton, Finn; ex-John, OLTL]. I haven’t seen him yet, but I’m looking forward to it.

Bree Williamson (Jessica), Mark Lawson (Brody) and Michael Easton (John) on One Life to Live in 2010 (Donna Svennevik/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images)

You have a couple of films coming up. Can you talk about those?

Yes. In One Night in San Diego, a pair of ladies from Los Angeles go to San Diego to see a guy who’s in a show at Comic-Con. I’m the guy. It’s not really at Comic-Con, though. I had a blast in this. It’s really funny and I got to sing in it.

Speaking of superheroes, is there a Marvel hero you’d like to play someday?

I have to confess to having a little bit of a blind spot when it comes to comic books. I was more of a movie and horror novel guy, but I’d love to someday play Wolverine. Hugh Jackman is one of my massive heroes.

7 Soap Actors We Want to See on 'Dancing With the Stars' (PHOTOS)

7 Soap Actors We Want to See on 'Dancing With the Stars' (PHOTOS)

Many daytime actors have already competed on the ABC series, but we can think of many more who should join!

What else is going on with you?

I’ve been writing a lot over the last few years. I have a script that’s very personal that I’ve been working on. I’m pushing to make it as its director. It melds my favorite things in life — it’s a horror film about bodybuilding.

You have some TV movies on your resume — are you more often cast as the dutiful loyal husband or the unbalanced ex who goes over the edge?

I think I can now say it’s right down the middle. I did a series of those movies — Ex-Wife Killer and Killer Reputation — it’s funny because they were both on one right after the other. I have another one coming out called Killer Contractor. I’m glad it’s down the middle because then it doesn’t put me in a box. I think my range of casting has gotten wider.

General Hospital, Weekdays, ABC