Viewers were shocked when Franco was killed off and surprised that Roger Howarth wasn’t leaving GENERAL HOSPITAL but returning as another character. And though fan speculation ran the gamut, the actor made his comeback in the May 27 episode as a brand-new character, a doctor named Austin! “I was straight-up terrified, 100 percent,” Howarth admitted to Soap Opera Digest of taking on a new role. “Excited and pleased and grateful — I love what I do and I was glad to get back to it — but there’s a certain amount of nervous energy that showed up.
“I can’t change the way I look so much,” he added. “So for this guy to be different, he has to speak differently and walk differently, and to be honest, I’ve had mixed success and it’s taken me a bit. I’m still figuring it out. But I really like the process of figuring it out.”
Howarth originally joined GH in March 2012 as his ONE LIFE TO LIVE character Todd Manning, but legal complications forced the soap to find him a new role in 2013, and they chose to have him take over as Franco, a character originally played by actor James Franco. The reformed serial killer proved popular with viewers, especially once Franco was paired with Rebecca Herbst’s Elizabeth, but the character was shockingly killed off in March 2021.
Although he admitted that it can be strange working with castmates he knows as they play characters that don’t know each other, Howarth is grateful for the opportunity to tackle this new challenge and was excited to get back to Port Charles. “I really like the people that I work with,” he declared. “It was lovely to see the crew. I really like what I do, and I’ve been doing it a long time, and it’s really nice for me to be this far into a career and still have a level of enthusiasm where I look forward to getting back to work when I’m away from work. It’s really nice. I’m really lucky.”
Since he’s only just begun playing Austin, he’s still finding his footing in the new role. “Even five or six weeks in, there are still things that I don’t know and still things that I’m trying to figure out,” Howarth admitted. “But what I do know for certain is that I like him. I hope the audience enjoys him, because there is some great story coming and it’s exciting to me.”
Keep watching GH to see who Austin really is and what storylines he finds himself mixed up in!
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