Growing up in Hamilton, Scotland, Ian Buchanan always felt the pull of the big city… but he never imagined that it would take him all the way to GENERAL HOSPITAL 33 years ago! “When I was super young and lived in this little town, the biggest town was Glasgow — and I couldn’t wait to get to Glasgow,” Duke’s former portrayer recounted to Soaps In Depth. “And as soon as I got to Glasgow, I heard that the best thing about it was the London train, and I was like, ‘I guess I’ll be going to London next!’ I just kept looking to the next place. But I never really dreamed I’d be on TV in America. How would I? I wouldn’t even know what that was!”
Buchanan’s first international stop didn’t turn out to be England but rather Madrid, Spain; a vacation there catapulted him into a modeling career and introduced him to the world. “For four years, I was in New York and Europe for summers and Japan for winters, and I loved Tokyo, New York, London, Paris, and Milan,” said the actor, who’s been tickled to see some of his wilder photos resurfacing on the Internet lately.
“I was working around The Blitz Kids and The New Romantics,” he said, referring to London’s flamboyant, eccentric late-’70s subculture. “People keep finding stuff, so I’ll repost them on social media. It’s like a past life — a very interesting past life!” Those wild years ultimately saw Buchanan settle in New York, where he studied acting and, in 1986, landed a role on a soap taping out in Hollywood.
It didn’t take GH fans long to fall for the chemistry newcomer Duke shared with Finola Hughes’ Anna, but Buchanan has never been able to put his finger on why. “Finola and I just did our work, had a great time and were happy to be around each other,” he recalled. “We got to do some lovely things, and the writing was always great.”
And while Duke died on Anna (again!) in 2015, the co-stars still enjoy each other’s company. “I actually had her son stay with me when he was doing an internship,” Buchanan revealed. “Finola looked at me and said, ‘Who’da thought 33 years ago, I’d be dropping off an 18-year-old for you to take care of for two weeks?’
“We just have a great connection and are very supportive and trusting with each other,” continued the soapster who’s also known for his runs as THE BOLD & THE BEAUTIFUL’s Dr. James Warwick, ALL MY CHILDREN’s Dr. Greg Madden and DAYS OF OUR LIVES’ Ian McAllister. “I had that with Susan Flannery (ex-Stephanie, B&B) and Rebecca Budig (GH’s Hayden; ex-Greenlee, AMC) over the years. We’re all best buds. Plus, they have children. I love that part of their lives. It’s great fun.”
On the heels of a summer vacation that took him back to Scotland, Paris, and London, as well as Amsterdam to visit Anthony Geary (ex- Luke), Buchanan — who’s become a US citizen — started work as the narrator in the soap-star-packed movie Mermaid For Christmas. He’s also keeping social media beautiful by posting a flower a day on Instagram, and though he’s not quite ready to share yet, he’s been writing and recording memoir pieces looking back at his life.
“It’s interesting to revisit not just how I feel now compared to then but to remember how I felt then, how it affected me and just what it was like negotiating the minefield of a younger life,” Buchanan said. “I have a very nice life. I’m very grateful I get to live here and be a first-generation American — and I’m grateful that I’ve managed to get myself to this place. Some people just get in their own way, but one of the first big things I ever learned was to get out of my way and let things play out!” And look how well that worked!
This story originally appeared in our print magazine