Brad Maule on Returning to 'General Hospital' as Dr. Tony Jones After 14 Years

Michael Maloney
Exclusive Courtesy Brad Maule

Brad Maule was cast in the role of nice guy Dr. Tony Jones on General Hospital in 1984. After 22 years of saving patients, getting shot, getting married, losing his wife and daughter, having a breakdown, and a whole bunch of other stuff, Tony went to that great soap sky during an encephalitis outbreak. On his deathbed, Tony shared a powerful and emotionally uplifting scene with his son, Lucas (then, Ben Hogestyn; now, Ryan Carnes), who came out to his dad.

Now, Tony’s back — at a time when his son needs support the most. A distraught Lucas believes that his husband Brad (Parry Shen) is cheating on him (yeah, as if Brad would do that!). Lucas is unaware that Brad’s real secret is that adopted son Wiley isn’t truly theirs. Watch for Tony and Lucas to share scenes as Lucas grapples with his current dilemma. Viewers will have to keep tuning in to see exactly when Maule appears, whether or not Tony’s been miraculously resurrected or if he’s appearing as some kind of vision.

TV Insider recently chatted with Maule about his return, the famous B.J./Maxie heart transplant storyline, and what he’s been up to since leaving Port Charles.

Welcome back! How’d this all come about?

Brad Maule: I’m not really sure how it came about other than my prayers were answered! I’m very happy. Frank [Valentini, executive producer] told me, ‘Brad, I’ve been thinking about this for years.’ I think it was a matter of how and when. It was fun and nerve-wracking. I was a little nervous because they do tape so much faster these days. Plus, I’d been off the bicycle for 14 years. But I got it. I didn’t go up on my lines.

Brad Maule on General Hospital in 1984 (Walt Disney Television via Getty Images Photo Archives/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images)

Ryan had come and gone in the role of Lucas in the past. Had you ever worked with him before?

No. I had not. This was the first time I met him. He’s a sweetheart. It was wonderful working with him. I couldn’t have worked with a kinder person. That’s just the way it was. He was professional, he knew his lines, and he was great working with me in that he knew it was a new day for me. There’s all kinds of ways that actors can work and Ryan does it in one of the best ways.

When you had your deathbed scene in 2006, Tony accepted Lucas, who had come out to him. This was a while ago, before we saw the level of diversity we see now with gay characters on television.

I do remember that. That was a really good scene. I remember it being 10 pages long! [Coming out] was not as easily accepted back then. [The scene] was ahead of its time. I felt great about it. Sometimes the writing on GH sort of matches up where you are in your head and in your life. I felt, ‘I’m going out but at least I’m saying something. Good!’

Was there ever talk of Tony surviving and segueing more into more of a Dr. Steve Hardy (the late John Beradino) type position in later years? Tony could have stuck around chastising rebellious interns for their innovative surgical techniques.

Yeah. Well, I think that could have been done. It was up to [the producers]. A writer from the show once said to me that I was such a good actor I had put myself out there on a limb — and then, sawed it off. I didn’t do that. I just did the lines they gave me. [Laughs] I didn’t write myself off that show. It happens.

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Your most powerful storyline was the tale in which Tony and Bobbie (Jackie Zeman)’s daughter B.J. (Brighton Hertford) had her heart transplanted into her dying cousin Maxie (Kirsten Storms). B.J. is still referenced today – Bobbie gave Carly (Laura Wright)’s daughter, Donna, a music box that once belonged to B.J..

Sometimes we don’t understand where we fit in everything. When I was 13, my brother, who was four years older than I am, died from a heart issue. It was at a significant moment in my life. I saw what happens to a family from a vantage point of a little kid watching his parents grieve. When we played the [B.J.] story, I felt transported back into my own life and losing my brother. So, that’s where a lot of the reality came from that people saw.

Tony (Brad Maule) sat at B.J.'s (Brighton Hertford) bedside after she was severely injured in a school bus crash on General Hospital in 1994 (ABC Photo Archives)

The moment in which Tony listens to B.J.’s heart beating inside of Maxie is classic. You were nominated for a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for that story.

Yeah. I was happy about that. I hadn’t been an "Emmy" kind of guy before then.

You and Jackie had a fan event last summer in Glendale. How was that?

It was great fun. Jackie and I are just great friends. It’s always like I never left when we see one another. She’s wonderful.

Any shout out you want to give to the fans who’ll be happy to see you – and the ones who’ve supported you all these years?

Oh, sure. Yes. There’s Eileen Bengelsdorf — when they used to try to kill me off, she’d write a letter a day saying, "No. No, you can’t do this." Our kids grew up together. She’s been a really good friend, as have Debbie Morris [GH Fan Club President] and Debby O’Connor. I’m grateful to everyone who’s supported me.

Tony was in jeopardy so many times, but fans never wanted him to die.

When I first came on the show, I don’t think I was a very good actor. I joke that whatever you’re really good at on a soap you do over and over again. [Tony] was good at being hurt. So, when it doubt, they would [nearly] kill me. The fans always responded. I don’t know what it is, but we get along really well.

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You’re likable! What’s been keeping you busy since leaving the show?

It turns out when you die on a soap opera, you go to Nacogdoches — the oldest town in Texas. I went to work for Stephen F. Austin State University there as a lecturer in film and acting. That’s what I’ve been doing and I’m loving it. I’m going to turn out a whole bunch of good actors that are going to come to Los Angeles and become famous.

General Hospital, Weekdays, ABC