Soap Stars React to Tragic Death of 'General Hospital's Johnny Wactor at 2024 Daytime Emmys (Exclusive)

Former 'General Hospital' star Johnny Wactor died on May 25 after being shot. He was 37 years old.

The soap opera community is thinking of their late co-star after his death last month. Speaking to ET's Deidre Behar on the red carpet of the 51st Annual Daytime Emmy Awards, stars of various soap operas took a moment to pay tribute to 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.

"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," Sofia Mattsson, who plays Sasha Gilmore-Corbin, the widow of Wactor's Brando Corbin, tells ET.

"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."

Sofia Mattsson and Johnny Wactor as Sasha Gilmore-Corbin and Brando Corbin on 'General Hospital' - Craig Sjodin via Getty Images

Robert Gossett, nominated for Best Supporting Performance In a Daytime Drama Series this year, tells ET that the GH cast is "hanging in there" in the aftermath of Wactor's death. 

"We've had a lot of loss," Gossett says, referring to the deaths of producer Nneka Garland, stars Sonya EddyJacklyn ZemanBilly MillerTyler Christopher, and most recently, Meg Bennett and Elizabeth MacRae

Gossett adds that the General Hospital stars "gather, as families do," for comfort during challenging times. "We support one another."

Although Gossett didn't work directly alongside Wactor on GH, he was a fan of his work, which the 70-year-old soap star said will "live on forever." He says that Wactor's "commitment to truth, to stay in that truth and in authenticity" is what made him such an outstanding performer.

GH co-star Finola Hughes, nominated for Lead Performance In a Daytime Drama Series, remembered Wactor for having a "very funny sense of humor."

"But I think more than anything, he was a very kind individual and always had time for everybody," she added. "He would stop you in the hallways -- I'm a big chatterer, I like to talk. And he would always sort of stop by and have a chat with you. I like that -- someone that can give you time."

The veteran actress echoed Gossett's comments on how the cast has come together amid their loss, saying, "[We've supported each other] the way any family does. You reach out, you call, you check in on everybody. Just try to say that you're there for them if they need you."

'General Hospital' star Johnny Wactor was killed on May 25 while shielding his bartending co-worker at Level 8 night club, Anita Joy, from gunfire. - Scott Kirkland/ABC via Getty Images

Mark Teschner, the casting director who cast Wactor, tells ET, "[He was] a very special guy. From the day he first auditioned, I was like, 'I like this guy. There's something about him -- I think we can make this work... I think he could have gone on to primetime. There's a lot of shows out there that he really would have been right for. It's really tragic."

"He had such heart, and his character had intensity but soulfulness -- you had to like this hotheaded guy. He's so decent and loving, it comes through in his work, and who he is as a person," Teschner continues. "We're all holding up. The show goes on, but this really hit everyone, and everyone is taking their moments to really reflect on what Johnny meant to them."

General Hospital also paid tribute to Wactor with an Instagram post shared on May 26. "The entire General Hospital family is heartbroken to hear of Johnny Wactor’s untimely passing," the post read. "He was truly one of a kind and a pleasure to work with each and every day. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his loved ones during this difficult time."

ET spoke exclusively with Anita Joy -- who bartended at the Level 8 nightclub with the late actor on the night he was shot -- and she opened up about their final moments together. She also shared why it's no surprise that her co-worker and friend of eight years didn't hesitate to save her life.

"I just love him dearly and everyone did. I'm just grateful for him," Joy told ET. "He was such a goofy, kind person and made everybody feel loved by him and seen by him," she said. "... He just wanted so many good things for everyone all the time. There wasn't a negative bone in his body... He was just so kind; kindness just oozed out of him. He made everybody feel so good. It just came naturally to him, that was his character."

Wactor's ex-fiancée, Tessa Farrell, also emotionally spoke with ET in a separate interview and echoed Joy's sentiments about the actor. 

"He was a very noble man and always did the right thing," Farrell said. "And I'm not surprised by that at all because he was kind of the guy that would step up and do the right thing."

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