Exclusive: General Hospital Chief Valentini Explains Today's Shocking Return of Duke Lavery
Ian Buchanan | Photo Credits: Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images
Not only did mobster-turned-good guy Duke Lavery die on General Hospital way back in 1990, he was gunned down before our very eyes and took his last breath in the arms of his wife, Anna. So how come the guy suddenly popped up on today's episode of GH alive and well and looking just like Ian Buchanan?
The Emmy-winning Buchanan played Duke from 1986 to '89, then Guiding Light vet Greg Beecroft took over the role and it was explained that Duke — now calling himself Jonathan Paget — had undergone radical cosmetic surgery. (So radical he even lost his Scottish brogue!) Since Buchanan is now back in the part, does this mean Paget wasn't really Duke? Or did Duke go back under the knife to reclaim his old looks? If so, can we please have the name of that plastic surgeon? GH exec producer Frank Valentini has some splainin' to do!
"Our audience is very excited about the growing relationship between Luke [Tony Geary] and Anna [Finola Hughes] and their story looks like it has really good legs...so what's the best thing to do? Make a triangle!" Valentini tells TV Guide Magazine. "We will eventually find out that the Duke Lavery we saw die all those many years ago was an imposter. This is the real Duke."
Valentini and his head writer Ron Carlivati jumped at the chance to hire Buchanan, who was rather abruptly dumped from his current role as scum lord Ian McAllister on Days of Our Lives. "Ian is a fantastic actor and when he was suddenly available Ron quickly came up with an idea and — boom! — we ran with it," says Valentini, who tells us it'll be about five weeks before we see Buchanan on screen again.
"In the interim, Luke and Anna will find themselves in a new place with their romance and they will be very surprised by the intensity of it," reports the exec. "Anna will, of course, be shocked and conflicted, she'll run the whole gamut of emotions when she finally comes face-to-face with Duke. She's going to want a lot of answers and Duke is really going to have to prove himself."
Let's not forget Mr. Spencer in this crazy-ass equation. "Needless to say, Luke will not be happy about Duke's return," Valentini says. "He's really going to have to fight for his gal. This is a very big story for all three of them."