After months of rumors and maybes, General Hospital executive producer Frank Valentini announced on Twitter that three-time Daytime Emmy winner Billy Miller will join the cast as the new Jason Morgan, previously played by Steve Burton.
Valentini prefaced his announcement with some amusing banter with head writer Ron Carlivati on the popular social media platform. After telling Carlivati that he had “HUGE” news about #GH, he would go on to tweet, “Billy Miller is joining the cast of @GeneralHospital in the role of Jason Morgan. Welcome to Port Charles Billy #GH.” Yay!
— Frank Valentini (@valentinifrank) September 2, 2014
TV Guide’s Michael Logan provided the first substantive scoop about Billy Miller heading to General Hospital in June when he tweeted, “Billy Miller. General Hospital. Done deal? This is what I’m hearing. #GH”
Billy Miller. General Hospital. Done deal? This is what I'm hearing. #GH
— Michael Logan (@TVGMLogan) June 13, 2014
Months would go by with little word, with numerous outlets running conflicting stories regarding the actor’s alleged negotiations with ABC and his former network, CBS. ABC Soaps In Depth ran a story in their September 1 issue that Miller’s imminent debut hinged on hammering out the details of his contract.
“I am really excited to be working with such a talented and acclaimed actor as Billy,” said Frank Valentini in a statement released by ABC. “Our cast is thrilled that he will be joining our ‘General Hospital’ family, and I know that he will be an amazing addition to our talented cast.”
As Miller steps into the role of Jason, his character has been presumed to be dead since 2012, but a body was never recovered. Earlier this year, it was revealed that Jason was rescued and kept in a cryogenic state by the newly installed head of the World Security Bureau (WSB), Victor Cassadine (Thaao Penghlis). Victor used this information to blackmail Jason’s longtime friend and one-time love Dr. Robin Scorpio-Drake (Kimberly McCullough) into doing his bidding, while getting the opportunity to save Jason and reunite him with his wife Sam Morgan (Kelly Monaco) and son Danny. With his imminent return, ABC promises fans can look forward to an exciting new story that will be full of the twists & turns along with shocking revelations that have made General Hospital infamous for over five decades.
Billy Miller first burst onto the daytime scene in 2007, playing bad seed Richie Novak on ABC’s All My Children. The charismatic actor switched networks to portray The Young and the Restless’ womanizing playboy Billy Abbott, a legacy character, in 2008. For five years he warmed hearts as Genoa City’s resident heart breaker, amassing a loyal and vocal fan base that was heartbroken when news of the actor’s departure broke last fall.
The actor opted not to sign a new contract with The Young and the Restless after failing to come to mutually satisfying terms. He taped his final episode in December 2013, and last aired in January. Miller explained why he chose to leave The Young and the Restless in an interview with Soap Opera Digest just weeks after his exit was announced. “I was made a generous offer to stay on Y&R. It was definitely a chance to gain veteran actor status. To pass was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. This was a great role to play; it afforded me a unique lifestyle. However, I realized if I took that contract, I would never know what else is out there.”
He went on to explain his reasons for turning down the contract, with the inability to do outside projects being the main reason. “In the past, we were able to venture out of the Y&R world; now it seems there is no longer that flexibility for me. Scary, terrifying, but discovering your limits always is, I think I owe it to myself to truly know what I can do. That’s not to insinuate that there’s something ‘better.’ I don’t look at this journey as an attempt to find something ‘better,’ but to experience varied challenges. Creatively, ‘outs’ are important for an actor. If you aren’t attempting to do other things on the side, to keep yourself current and your skills diversified, what type of actor will you be? Every time I took a break from Y&R to work in another medium, I came back more invigorated to play Billy Abbott. I came back with a better understanding of what I can do, and my best work on this show came from those experiences. Again, it is not about better. I love this job, there was no better in my mind, only different”.
Y&R opted to recast the role with David Tom, who played the role from 1999-2002. Tom would only last 5 months in the role, as the show recast once again with Army Wives alum Burgess Jenkins, explaining they were taking the character in a different direction.
Billy Miller has received three Daytime Emmy Awards. In 2010 and 2013, he won for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, and in 2014, he won the Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series.
How will Jason’s return impact Sam and Patrick’s (Jason Thompson) budding relationship? Will Jason find comfort in the arms of Robin? Will Jason be the same Jason he was when before his shooting? Will Jason Morgan return to being Jason Quartermaine? So many questions! The only way to find out what happens is to watch General Hospital, weekdays on ABC.