To the joy of old-time General Hospital fans, the soap brings back singer/actor Rick Springfield as Dr. Noah Drake beginning December 2. It's been 23 years since Springfield has appeared as Noah and dazzled Port Charles females. Well, now he's back, and there's no doubt that his effect on women will be the same as ever.
About.com caught up with Springfield while he was appearing with his band in New York City. Back in the ‘80s, his career peaked in music and television at once, with the release of his song, Jessie's Girl and his popularity on GH. With the release of his new CD, The Day Before Yesterday, Springfield is doing concerts throughout the U.S. and Japan.
What's it like to be faced once again with the grind of General Hospital and a full music schedule? "Our touring is family-friendly," Springfield explains, "because we all have families". "We will tour for 3 to 5 days and then go back home again so we can stay in touch with our families and also stay friends. That's the best way to do it. We spend a lot of time in the air, but it's really worth it."
The producers of General Hospital asked him this time around if he would be interested in playing Noah for four episodes. "If they'd called me three years ago, I would have said no," Springfield says. "But everything now has changed so much in my life. My basic attitude was that it would be really interesting to do it. It's a once in a lifetime chance to redo a character I did 23 years ago. That was the main thought – that, and the fact that Jackie was still on the show." The Drake character was involved with Jackie Zeman's character, Bobbie Spencer, and it sounds as if Dr. Drake wouldn't mind getting involved with her again. "It seemed like something I couldn't pass up," he continues.
It worked out so well that this particular tour of duty got its dates extended. "It was four episodes, and the writers were having fun with the scripts, so I said I'll do a couple more. So far I've done 12. I'm not quite sure what's going to happen storyline-wise as my story pulls in a lot of threads. Noah comes back with some baggage. I didn't want to come in and have it be as if no time had passed. So much has happened to him, and now he has a son, as I do, and that aspect of it was very close to my heart."
Back in the studio, Springfield ran into some GH vets. He greeted Tony Geary, Stuart Damon, Leslie Charleson, and some of the crew still with the show. He mentioned seeing Rachel Ames, who plays Audrey Hardy, and commented that she's as beautiful as ever. He also met fellow Australian Ingo Rademacher and found that after a conversation with Rademacher, his own Australian accent – removed with the help of a vocal coach in the 1970s – drifted back into his speech. This writer commented that Rademacher has lost a lot of his accent since appearing on [i/]General Hospital. "No, he hasn't," Springfield says, chuckling. He finds his former co-star Jackie Zeman "awesome." Any hopes the Bobbie-Noah romance will rekindle? "As far as the future, I'm not sure – we're all waiting to see what happens," Springfield says. "It would be great to be back with Jackie. We've done one scene together, and there's another one coming up. As far as the future, I'm not sure."
His GH schedule thus far has worked out very well. "We didn't tour in November. Now we're in New York, and then we go to Pennsylvania," he says. "After that, I do GH, go to Japan, and then to Australia with my family. The thing about a soap opera is that you're not the only character so you don't have to be there all the time. But when you are, it's a full day's work." The performer is no stranger to that, with four prime-time TV series, films, guest star appearances, and many musical compositions to his credit. For The Day Before Yesterday, he chose to cover songs from the ‘70s and ‘80s. "I think it's a very relaxing CD," he says, "the kind of thing you can put on and have playing. I wanted to do something with atmosphere."
Besides work, Springfield enjoys his family, which includes his wife of 20 years, Barbara, two children, ages 16 and 20, and his dog Gomer. Fans will remember Springfield's beloved, photogenic pooch Ronnie, a stray he adopted. Today Springfield sports a tattoo with both Ronnie and Gomer represented, and a cross signifying their spiritual connection. Do his kids consider him cool? "Oh, I'm dad," he says with a laugh. "At times, I have a certain cool factor." Uh, try all the time.
Welcome back, Rick and Noah, and let's hope you stick around for a while.
Check out Springfield's tour dates and other news – and some great photos of him and Gomer – at his website, www.rickspringfield.com