Steve Burton last aired as General Hospital's anti-hero, Jason Morgan, in November 2021. His exit came after Disney refused his medical and religious exemption appeals for the company's Covid-19 vaccine mandate. After his last airdate, he assured fans that there were no hard feelings between him and the show and that he understood their perspective.
Along with Burton, the show also fired Ingo Rademacher. Unlike his costar, Rademacher did not leave on good terms with his former employer. A lawsuit is making its way through the courts, citing discrimination based on religion.
Before his exit, Burton's character was in a hotly anticipated love triangle with his best friend, Sonny Corinthos, and Sonny's wife, Carly Corinthos. There was also another romantic story being told with Britt Westbourne.
So the impact of his departure hurt the show story-wise. Burton told Deadline that he wished he had been allowed to play it out. "Yeah, it was bad timing. The timing could have been better for sure!"
Even with the sadness of losing a much-loved job, the actor says it's all about perspective. Daytime Confidential quoted him as saying: "You never want to leave your home, especially when it becomes kind of unexpected. They had to do what they had to do, I had to do what I had to do. There's no hard feelings..."
Burton told Deadline that his comeback started with a call from Days of our Lives executive producer Albert Alarr set up a call with him. At the time, streamer Peacock was working on the second season of the Emmy-nominated Days spin-off, Beyond Salem. And they wanted to do something to top the first go-round of the mini-series.
Enter Burton's hire.
In 1988, he played Harris Michaels. It was his first daytime role and one that didn't last long as he had an obligation to return to the syndicated sitcom, Out Of This World. Burton says that he is not sure how the character was written off, but apparently, he was not killed.
The arc that Alarr pitched intrigued Burton, as did the opportunity to return to the show that launched his daytime career.
After his first day of filming, he told Daytime Confidential that it felt nice to be back. "I felt amazing. It was difficult stuff, I felt like I did a good job, it was a full day's work and there was an excitement about this series there in the building."
He opened up about Harris and what kind of character he is.
Burton says that Alarr asked if he minded playing a bad guy and was pleased when the actor said it didn't bother him at all.
A redemption arc also plays out for Harris; Burton told Deadline.
Salem Or Port Charles
There are some perks of being on Beyond Salem for Burton. Namely, there were multiple wardrobe changes, which was not the case at General Hospital. He told Deadline: "And it's funny because obviously on General Hospital, I had one wardrobe, you know? I joke that I had more wardrobe changes in Beyond Salem than I have my whole career on General Hospital."
Another thing that pleased the actor was that the role was physically challenging. He said: "We did so many stunts."
With Beyond Salem set to start airing its new season on July 11, Deadline asked Burton if he could return to Days. The idea wasn't ruled out; he said it would be up to executive producers Ken Corday, Alarr, and head writer Ron Carlivati.
But fans of General Hospital need not worry; he is also open to returning to the show, should they ask. As of press time, the role of Jason remained off the canvas and presumed dead, with no recast in the works.
He told Deadline it was hard when he left but understood it was a business decision. "Look, the circumstance [of his GH departure] was tough, and you know, that's just the way it is; I'll always be grateful for my time there. It was my family for so long. I grew up there, and the fans have always been awesome to me."