General Hospital star Jason Thompson has officially announced his departure from the long-running ABC soap.
“I have made the difficult decision to bid farewell to a character I’ve loved playing for over 10 years. It was not an easy decision but I feel like it’s time to hang up Dr. Patrick Drake’s white coat and scrubs,” wrote Thompson in message posted on Instagram.
Jason Thompson took the soap world by storm in late 2005 when he debuted as cocky neurosurgeon Patrick Drake. The actor’s charm and charisma translated well on screen, culminating in a surge in popularity after he was paired with longtime favorite Kimberly McCullough. Dubbed “Scrubs” by their fans, Patrick and Robin’s epic love story led to the pairing becoming one of GH’s few super couples of the new millennium.
Rumors of a potential exit for the popular star began in late September, after a report published by Daytime Confidential stated the actor was openly discussing leaving the series. Other, less credible outlets piggybacked DC’s report with conflicting, unconfirmed information. Respected publication Soap Opera Digest ran an article in their newest issue discussing Thompson’s departure. According to their sources, the role will not be recast and a big sendoff is planned for the character.
Thompson went onto thank executive producer Frank Valentini, Daytime exec Vicki Dummer and ABC Entertainment President Paul Lee for their “support and appreciate their understanding”.
The actor also had kind words to the family he’s formed behind the scenes at Prospect Studios. “To everyone at ABC, the General Hospital crew, producers, writers, directors, my beloved cast mates and those in my home away from home, the make-up room, I can’t possibly begin to tell you what you mean to me.”
His most powerful message was directed to the fans, who’ve come to love and support Thompson through all the ups and downs for a decade. “Most importantly, I would like to thank the fans. General Hospital changed my life and I have you to thank for that. I am forever grateful for your love and support and for embracing me and this character all these years. I mean these words from the bottom of my heart: GH is family to me, and I will miss all of you dearly.”
Jason Thompson’s strong body of work has led to five consecutive Daytime Emmy Award nominations — Outstanding Supporting Actor in 2011-2012 and Outstanding Lead Actor in 2013-2015.
As for what’s next for Thompson, rumor has it the actor will join the cast of CBS’ The Young and the Restless at the conclusion of his GH run. Y&R had no comment when contacted by SOD.
With the recently announced return of Kimberly McCullough, designed to wrap-up the unresolved storyline involving Robin, can fans expect a happy send off for their long-tortured couple? Patrick is currently engaged to Sam Morgan (Kelly Monaco), but the secret that her husband Jason (Billy Miller) is alive will definitely have impact on both their lives. This will be a November to remember!
My Take: Words cannot express the sadness felt by this news. Jason Thompson is one of Mark Teschner’s (GH’s casting director) greatest finds. He’s the kind of actor that never takes the foot off the pedal. Every word of every script had meaning when performed. While there are those who’ve been accused of “phoning it in” over the years, the same can never be said about Thompson. Despite the woeful creative injustices that often led to periods without major story, Thompson was never a “B+” performer. His ability to convey the nuances of such a dynamic character — whether Patrick was charming the pants off an intern, declaring vows for the woman he loved, grieving as a single father or rebuilding the pieces of his broken life, it always made for a commanding performance.
Arguably, the most frustrating aspect of his exit is GH is losing the only leading man its created in over a decade. It’s easy to take a ready-made star from another network or show and propel them into the position of a lead, but to build one from the ground up takes a lot of work. With all the names that have come and gone over the years — from stunt castings to new faces touted as the future of GH — the one consistency since 2005 has been Jason Thompson.
Though I’m disappointed to see him go, I’m glad he’s doing it on his own terms. Whatever he plans next, whether it’s going after roles in primetime or heading to a rival soap, GH’s tremendous loss will be someone else’s immense gain.
Photo Credit: © Howard Wise/jpistudios.com