Roger Howarth will soon be working his final shift on General Hospital as the actor confirmed he is leaving the daytime soap opera.
“Several weeks ago, I got a phone call from somebody I’ve known for a very long time who I love very dearly [executive producer Frank Valentini] telling me that when my contract was up at ABC,” Howarth, 55, told Soap Opera Digest on Monday, November 20. “I would not be offered a new contract and that the character of Austin would be killed, and that this was something that both wanted and needed to do to move [the] story.”
Howarth joined General Hospital in 2012 as Todd Manning, a character he previously played on One Life to Live from 1993 to 2012. Howarth later took over the character of Franco Baldwin in 2013. After Franco’s story line wrapped up in 2021, Howarth returned as a new character, Dr. Austin Gatlin-Holt, that same year.
Dr. Austin was fatally shot during the show’s Friday, November 17, episode, marking the end of Howarth’s 11-year run on the show.
Despite initially being surprised by his character’s tragic fate, Howarth told Soap Opera Digest that he grew to realize “how lucky I was to have been able to do something I really love doing for more than a decade with people who I really enjoyed working with,” adding, “I’m a lucky guy. I had a great run and this was a decision made by people who make these kinds of decisions for a living.”
Howarth recalled being “overwhelmed” with emotion during his last day of filming in October. “I love telling [stories] and I got to do it for a long time. … It’s not just that I felt that on my last day, I still feel that way, but I felt it pretty strongly on the set,” he shared. “And everybody was very sweet to me. The producers gave me flowers and I got to say thank you and goodbye to an awful lot of people who I really admire.”
Howarth went on to thank General Hospital viewers for being “the most loyal, smartest, most discerning, enthusiastic, supportive, bunch of people in the whole history of entertainment ever.” He continued: “I want to say, ‘Thank you for watching, thank you for all of your support and love. We’ve all tried really hard to please you and I’m glad we got to spend this time together. It was cool. I had a great time.’”
Howarth also took to Instagram to show appreciation for fans. “Three things that I know for sure … 1 Daytime fans are lovely and amazing and supportive and dedicated and I am deeply grateful to each sparkly one of them,” he captioned a selfie of his shadow on Monday. “2 I enjoyed my time at general hospital and wish the cast and crew the best and continued success. It was a pleasure working with you all. 3 Life is amazing. We just don’t ever know what’s gonna happen. How great! Turn toward the light. Always. Huge thank you to you all.”
Several of Howarth’s General Hospital costars share their appreciation for the actor in the post’s comments. “Life is amazing- and so are you!!! ❤️,” actress Laura Wright commented, while costar Risa Dorken wrote, “Big time bummer. It was always a good day when I saw your name on the list, or your face in “the hub.” Learned a lot from watching you. Thanks for the conversations & kindness. You’re a real good one. Love you Roger. Xx.”