'General Hospital's Steve Burton Reflects on Returning to the Soap After Getting Fired (Exclusive)

Steve Burton talks to ET about reprising his role as Jason Morgan on 'General Hospital' in March after being fired in November 2021.

Steve Burton is back home on General Hospital, and the soap star is feeling good about his return. Speaking to ET's Deidre Behar on the red carpet of the 51st Annual Daytime Emmy Awards, the 53-year-old opened up about reprising his role as Jason Morgan on the long-standing soap and his hopes for the future now that he's returned.

"It's been amazing to come back to the show. It's always felt like home," Burton told ET of his March return to General Hospital after being fired in November 2021. "I love the cast, I love the crew, and life is amazing right now. It really is, truly."

After rumors circulated that Burton had been let go from the soap, on which he has played family heir turned mobster right-hand man Jason Morgan off-and-on since 1991, the soap star took to Instagram in November to confirm that he was fired from the daytime drama over his refusal to get vaccinated for COVID-19.

"I know there's been a lot of rumors and speculation about me and General Hospital, and I wanted you to hear it from me personally," Burton shared in a video posted to his page. "Unfortunately, General Hospital has let me go because of the vaccine mandate."

Steve Burton, who played Jason Morgan on General Hospital off-and-on since 1991, was let go from the daytime soap in 2021. - Craig Sjodin/ABC via Getty Images

"I did apply for my medical and religious exemptions, and both of those were denied. Which, you know, hurts," Burton continued. "But this is also about personal freedom for me. I don't think anyone should lose their livelihood over this."

Burton added that, despite the disappointment of being let go, "I'll always be grateful for my time at General Hospital. I love it there, I grew up there.... so I'll always be grateful."

Burton appeared to be unwavering in his opposition to the vaccine mandate, but remained optimistic about his future.

I believe that when one door closes, multiple doors open. That's always been my perspective," Burton said. "So I am excited to see what the future brings."

He didn't rule out appearing on General Hospital in the future, sharing, "Maybe one day, if these mandates are lifted, I can return and finish my career as Jason Morgan. That would be an honor. And if not, I'm gonna take this amazing experience, move forward and be forever grateful."

Almost three years later and three months after he reprised his role, Burton told ET that it had been "an interesting time in general," but felt that sticking to his refusal was "something that I felt like I had to do."

"When another door shuts another one opens and, you know, God has a plan," Burton said. "I left and here I am back again, full circle, and it feels great and it's just an amazing time." 

The year after his GH exit, Burton reprised his Days of Our Lives role as Harris Michaels on its spinoff, Beyond Salem, before eventually returning to the soap opera itself. He announced his exit from the soap on the Daily Drama YouTube page in January. 

As for his plans when it comes to General Hospital, Burton says he'll be happy to stick with the daytime soap "if it's on another 60 years." 

Soap stars Laura Wright and Steve Burton, who star on 'General Hospital' as Carly Spencer and Jason Morgan, speak onstage the 51st Annual Daytime Emmys Awards - Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Burton also took the time to join his co-stars in paying tribute to former General Hospital alum Johnny Wactor, who died late last month.

Wactor died on May 25, after he was shot by an unidentified person during a suspected theft of his catalytic convertor after leaving work at the Level 8 nightclub. He was 37 years old. It was reported that he stepped in between the gunman and his co-worker to shield her from the shot.

Burton worked alongside Wactor onscreen and recalled how the late star was "an incredible man." 

"I said it on our podcast, and just in general, he was just a guy you could always count on," Burton told ET of Wactor. "He was selfless, giving, as we see. My prayers to his family."

Sofia Mattsson, who plays Sasha Gilmore-Corbin, the widow of Wactor's Brando Corbin, also shared her memories of Wactor with ET.

"It's just heartbreaking. It's really, really awful. I miss him, and it's so unfair. My heart goes out to his whole family," she said. "It was so special [to work with him], I will never forget it. He was so caring, so genuine, so kind, so hardworking, and I just loved it. It was so easy -- everybody says we had great chemistry, and it was really from him. He was easy to love! I will always remember him very fondly."

See more soap stars share their memories of Wactor in the video below.

The 51st Annual Daytime Emmy Awards aired Friday, June 7 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on CBS and Paramount+.