General Hospital’s Genie Francis Won’t ‘Defend’ Laura’s Rape Scene

General Hospital’s Genie Francis Won’t ‘Defend’ Laura’s Rape Scene

Genie Francis is taking a stand on her General Hospital character’s controversial history.

During ABC’s Television Critics Association presentation on Wednesday, the actress — who has portrayed the role of Laura Spencer since 1977 — opened up about the date rape scene from 1979 that has fans (and Francis) still questioning why it happened in the first place.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Laura and Luke (Anthony Geary) were dubbed a “super couple” in the soap world, but attention got wary in the years that followed due to the nature of their relationship: Luke had raped Laura, but the two fell in love and eventually married.

“I don’t defend it anymore,” Francis, 60, told reporters.

“You know, as a young kid, at 17, I was told to play rape, and I played it,” she explained. “I didn’t even know what it was. But, at 17, you follow the rules, and you do as you are told, and you aim to please. At 60, I don’t feel the need to defend that anymore.”

“I think that the story was inappropriate, I don’t condone it, and it’s been a burden that I’ve had to carry to try to justify that story, and so I’m not doing that anymore,” she added. “I think, when a woman says ‘No,’ that she should be listened to, and if you replay that scene, you don’t have Laura just saying ‘No.’ You have her screaming ‘No.'”


When it came to filming the scene in which Laura and Luke wed, Francis told the audience it was an “uncomfortable” day for several reasons.

“I think of what an uncomfortable day that was to shoot,” she recalled. “You know, in super-spiked high heels, sinking in the mud. I have got that headdress on, which is pretty, but it was wired, and it was sticking in my head, and I was not allowed to sit down because you couldn’t wrinkle that dress.”

“And that was very, very physically uncomfortable, and everybody was super tense because it was such a big deal,” she continued. “There’s a picture, I think, that they showed where we start to dance. That was after the ceremony, and we started to dance the Virginia reel, and then I actually started to have fun. But, before that, it was a very tough day of shooting.”

Despite the unideal circumstances, Francis acknowledged the major impact that the wedding scene ultimately had on fans.

“You know, it’s hard to put that in just one sentence. It’s still sinking in to me how big a deal it was,” she said. “At the time, I knew it was popular, but I never dreamed that we would be celebrating the 60th [anniversary] and still talking about that moment.”

Luke and Laura’s wedding on General Hospital.
Bob D’Amico/Disney General Entertainment Content/Getty

This isn’t the first time that Francis has spoken about the controversial rape scene. In The Story of Soapsthe primetime documentary special presented by PEOPLE and ABC in 2020, the actress got candid about how that storyline impacted the soap world.

“It was such a big deal in the media and it took the country by storm,” Francis said in the special. “I’ve had to justify it for so many years and I have to say, it feels good to sit here and say I won’t justify it. It’s awful. They shouldn’t have done it.”

Francis also addressed the moment the writers had initially called “rape-seduction.”

“Glory Mount [executive producer] tried to deal with it by calling it rape-seduction,” Francis said in the special. “The term now would be date rape. The night of the rape, Luke’s last request was to dance with him, and the dance became very seductive. He took her down to the floor and that is the rape.”

RELATED VIDEO: General Hospital Actress Sonya Eddy Dead at 55: ‘The World Lost Another Creative Angel’

General Hospital will be celebrating its 60th anniversary on April 1, 2023.

To mark the milestone, ABC will be presenting the cast and crew with a stage dedication on the Prospect Studios lot, “commemorating the show’s legacy and serving as a reminder of the history that has been made in that very spot,” according to a release.

To kick off its anniversary, the Daytime Emmy Award-winning show will honor the late Sonya Eddy — who played General Hospital‘s head nurse Epiphany Johnson on the series from 2006 until her death in December— in a special episode at the end of March.

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Then, according to the release, the beloved Nurses Ball — a fictional glamorous charity event dedicated to HIV/AIDS awareness — will return the week of April 3, marking the first time the ball has aired since 2020.

Additionally, Jane Elliot is set to reprise her role as the legendary Tracy Quartermaine in April.

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