Brother Act

Jonathan and Richard Jackson, with their proud mother, join Soap Opera News for an insightful discussion of brotherly love - and sibling rivalry

It started in the 1930s with John and Lionel Barrymore. Then it was the Phoenix brothers and, of course, the Baldwins. Now it looks as it the millennium may spell huge stardom for another set of acting brothers- Jonathan and Richard Jackson. Younger sibling Jonathan (Lucky, GH( far left, who's 16. has already won two Emmys, while Richard, 19, is quickly climbing that same ladder of success. Here, Jonathan, Richard and Jeanine Jackson their mother, join Soap Opera News for a roundtable discussion about their lives in and out of show business.

SOAP OPERA NEWS: What were the two of you like when you were growing up?

RICHARD: We usually just had fun. We're the kind of family that laughs a lot together. When Jon and I were younger we definitely had a rivalry, though.

JONATHAN: But we still got along. It was just heavy competition in sports. We each tried to win.

RICHARD: We were fiercely competitive. When he was really young, he hit me over the head with a hockey stick. He'd swing baseball bats at me.

JEANINE: We were surprised that they survived childhood (laughs). But through it all, there was a genuine love and compatibility.

JONATHAN: At first, we just wanted to beat each other. Then we started to play sports together instead of against each other.

SON: When did maturity kick in?

JONATHAN: Five years ago - after the first year here in L.A. We started to see what a good team we could make. We were both in the same boat with acting, trying to get started.

RICHARD: Then we started playing music together. We did all these creative things that made us think on the same level.

SON: You're in a band together and you're also writing a screenplay together

JONATHAN: We just finished the final draft of our first feature-length script.

RICHARD: It's taken a while because when you're working, it's hard to write. We started in '95.

JONATHAN: This is a pattern with Richard (looking at Richard with a teasing glint in his eve). He doesn't want to do things. He didn't want to write a script. I had to convince him. I said, "You can do this." He dragged his feet and said, "Fine!" We wrote the story outline, then he took over and became the headwriter! The same with music - he didn't want to be in a band. I have to pressure him and say, "Come on, man, we can do this music thing." So finally, reluctantly, he did it -and now he loves it.

RICHARD: The reason I didn't want to start a band was because I'd played drums, but I'd played barely any songs. So any time I'd hear music and try to play with it, I couldn't stay on rhythm. I was intimidated by the fact that I was going to have to play music. Then we were jamming one day and we played a simple song and it sounded good.

SON: Did that kind of teamwork help ease the competitiveness?

JEANENE: It was forward thinking instead of horizontal thinking.

RICHARD: And we didn't think of it that way. We had goals that would take the two of us to get to. Then it became natural. Now it's hard to remember fighting.

JONATHAN: Now we can compete, and 97 percent of the time we're both supportive of each other at the same time.

RICHARD: I was out of work for two and a half years before working consistently, and Jon was working on GH. All the time he's been on GH, all the movies and TV things he's done, he's come home and talked to me about. So I end up learning a lot from listening. If Tony Geary (Luke) taught Jon something, Jon would come home and talk to me about it. All of a sudden, I have a new way of thinking about it. The whole circle is learning.

SON: How did the acting career start?

RICHARD: We both became interested on the same day. Our family went on vacation in 1991 and we went to Universal Studios and saw how movies were made. It  really interested us.

JEANINE: I learned that day that you have to be careful where you choose to
vacation with the family because it can change your life.

JONATHAN: Richard did a competition and got a manager through that He came down to California and I came down at the end of the school year. I was in acting class up in Portland [Oregon].

RICHARD: At first, I didn't want Jonathan than to get into acting because it was something I wanted to do by myself I'd done that in Portland for about a year without Jonathan getting into it. But Jonathan got GH within six months of being down here.

SON: How did that make each of you feel?

RICHARD: That's an extremely short time to get a series. It's lightning fast, which doesn't surprise me when dealing with Jon, though. Jon does a lot of things extraordinarily. When GH happened, I was happy for him. By then, we were on the right track.

SON: Jonathan, did you feel at all guilty?

JONATHAN: When Richard comes close to things and doesn't get it, I get disappointed for him because I know his talent and I know how hard he works for everything. It's not that I was working harder than he was, it's not that I deserve it more. So I didn't quite understand why I was working sooner I was fortunate enough to get GH and I'm thankful.

RICHARD: I remember Jonathan had been working on GH; then he did Camp Nowhere the following year. That year had gotten two days work on the film Casper. I came home and Jon was genuinely thrilled that I had those five or 0 lines in a movie. I'm not surprised because he's a nice guy.

JONATHAN: Richard's learned some natural virtues of patience that I haven't, and I think that wilt be to his benefit in the long run. It feels like we're both g~ mg somewhere. I don't know where, but it feels like there's forward motion. It fee's like we're spreading our wings a little bit and learning as much as we can as we go. Getting ready for something.

SON: You seem like best friends.

JONATHAN: We shared a room for 13 out of 16 years.

RICHARD: And we still have bunk beds! We're around the same people, we do the same things, we have common interests, common goals. We're going down the road together

JONATHAN: The difference between friends and brothers is that you don't have to be in the same room with friends for 13 years (laughs). So there are certain things that you learn that are going to be helpful down the road - learning how to live with somebody, learning how to be around somebody all the time.

SON: What's it really like for you, Jeanine, listening to and watching your two sons?

JEANINE: I'm in such awe of them. I learn from them all the time. They've both embarked on their own growth journeys. As they discover things about life and use their own brains to think up new ideas and concepts, I'm fortunate enough that they share them with me. They bless my life tremendously I'm extraordinarily proud of who they are. If God had let me design my kids into every-thing I wanted, I would've sold myself so short and I'm so glad I left it up to Him.

The Jackson brothers just may have the best of both the big- and small-screen worlds. Jonathan will be seen in The Deep End of the Ocean, starring as Michelle Pfeiffer's son. On Sept 14, Richard had a guest spot on Ally McBeal.
"It's a family drama about how they felt with losing a child," says Jonathan of the movie, which is scheduled to open in early 1999. "To give you insight into the character; his younger brother gets lost when he's 3 and my character is 7. Then the story picks up a decade later. He doesn't get along with his mom. They each blame themselves for what happened, yet they think that each is blaming the other one.
"Working with Michelle, well, that's just about all I have to say," Jonathan adds. "She's just awesome.
The thrill with being on Ally McBeal wasn't just Richard's. "It's my mom's favorite show, so she was probably the most excited of all of us," he says. "She tried to stay calm, but her enthusiasm was smoking out of her eyeballs."

The entire Jackson clan has been assisting dad Rick in his bid for the U.S. Congress from the state of Washington.
Older sister Candice is acting as campaign manager, and Jonathan and Richard have been on the election trail for their dad, giving speeches, marching and waving in parades and talking to people in preparation for the Sept 15 primary.
"It's a little stressful flying back and forth," says Jonathan. "But my dad has made so many sacrifices for us to be down here that it's the least we can do to support him in a goal that he's trying to accomplish."
Why would Rick make a good Congressman?
"Because he's honest and dedicated and stands up for what he believes in," says Richard. "He knows what each particular law actually means to people working out there. He's not a politician with his own agenda."
Jonathan adds, "He knows what it's like to work in the real world. He's owned a business for 15 years and raised a family and has done it all successfully. If he was in Congress and looking at laws that were trying to be passed, he'd know how that would affect people in the real world. That's something that's really lacking in Congress."