EXCLUSIVE: Beyond Salem may end up luring a whole new set of fans from General Hospital now that Steve Burton has joined the Days of Our Lives spinoff on Peacock. The beloved actor, who who left the ABC soap in 2021 after failing to adhere to its vaccine policy, has joined the second installment of Beyond Salem.
Though GH fans certainly miss him as Jason Morgan, Burton couldn’t be more thrilled about reprising his role as Harris Michaels — a DOOL character he originated in 1988 and is now reprising for Beyond Salem starting Monday. New episodes will drop each day through next Friday.
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“Look, the circumstance [of his GH departure] was tough and you know, that’s just the way it is,” Burton tells Deadline. “I’ll always be grateful for my time there. It was my family for so long. I grew up there and the fans have always been awesome to me. But again, some doors shut and other doors open and here we are in Beyond Salem. Wow.”
Here, Burton reflects on his departure from GH and shares how his relationship with DOOL began more than 30 years ago.
DEADLINE: After you left General Hospital, did you feel like your daytime career was done?
STEVE BURTON There’s a lot of things I’ve learned in my life. You just never say never because doors continue to open. I knew there was a possibility that The Young and the Restless may call because I was on it some point. I didn’t know that this opportunity would come up! I would never shut the door on daytime. That’s been my place. That’s where I’ve learned to act. That’s where I’ve lived for so long. And there’s only four shows left now. I was excited because Marnie Saitta, the DOOL casting director I’ve known for years, called and said, “Hey, Albert Alarr, the executive producer, wants to have a meeting.” I said, “Yeah, sure.” Why not? He said, “Hey, this is kind of what we’re thinking. It’s a pretty cool arc.” I said, “Absolutely. For sure.” I didn’t even get to read the scripts. I was excited that it was a limited run. We did so many stunts. And it’s funny because obviously on General Hospital, I had one wardrobe, you know? I joke that I had more wardrobe changes in Beyond Salem than I have my whole career on General Hospital.
DEADLINE: How was your character of Harris Michaels first introduced on DOOL in 1988?
BURTON: In the olden days, the summers used to be for the teen storylines. It was Charlotte Ross, who played Eve, and me and Scott Reeves [as Jake], who’s a good friend of mine. That’s where we actually met on Days of Our Lives 30 years ago. He and I were kind of like the high school troublemakers trying to mess with Eve. I wasn’t the greatest guy, but the character was only 17, so what can you do? He’s still going through puberty. I was only supposed to be on for a couple of shows and I ended up being on for more. I had really great memories of driving on the lot and working. It was one of my first jobs. I was so grateful. But I had to go back to a series I was on called Out of This World with Donna Pescow and Doug McClure. I don’t know how they wrote me off of DOOL. I just kind of disappeared. I didn’t die, apparently.
DEADLINE: Is Harris the same guy he was 30-some years ago?
BURTON: He’s not operating on a code of ethics that is great. Albert was like, “Do you care about being a bad guy?” I said, “No, man. Whatever. I can play anything.” I don’t know how much I can say but he does some not nice things in this chapter. There may be some redemption.
DEADLINE: Is there a potential to join DOOL permanently?
STEVE BURTON I don’t know. You really have to ask Ron Carlivati and Albert. From what I gather, Peacock’s happy with this, NBC’s happy with this. But if the opportunity’s there, sure. I never say never. You know, for a while, daytime was kind of in the dumps. Until streaming came along, daytime was hanging by a string. Then NBC goes, “Hey, we have a great brand here. Let’s let’s do a spinoff.” Now there is such great energy in the building. They just have this energy like, “Hey, we’re doing something cool.” I had a blast and got to see a bunch of old friends that I haven’t seen for a while ‘cuz obviously the daytime community’s small and we only see each other at award events.
DEADLINE: The daytime genre couldn’t be stronger right now.
BURTON: I agree. I think a lot of times, people forget the power of our fan bases and how loyal they are. I wouldn’t have a career and I wouldn’t be able to go on the road and do these comedy shows. I wouldn’t be able to do a podcast. I wouldn’t be able to do any of the things I do if the fans weren’t so loyal and loved our shows and wanted content so much. And this is where NBC kind of took the ball and ran with it. They’re giving the fans what they want. That’s why the first Beyond Salem was so successful, and hopefully the second one will surpass or equal that.
DEADLINE: The last two years were scary for folks during the pandemic. Have the vaccination rules relaxed in daytime?
BURTON: Whatever you believe or not believe about Covid, there has to be protocols in place. At GH we are having great success. Everybody was social distancing, masking. It’s the same thing at Days. And they can take tests there, which is smart, every day when you go in. It hasn’t relaxed and I don’t think it should for a little while. [Note: Burton declined to reveal his vaccination status.]
DEADLINE: Was it hard having your personal choices about vaccines out there in public when it was revealed how and why you left GH?
BURTON: No not really, because I’m a public figure and that’s just how life is. It was my belief and I stuck to it and I knew it was gonna be that way. I knew some people would agree with it and some people wouldn’t agree with it. It’s a personal choice and that’s what I had to do. GH was a huge part of my life and I’m so grateful for the opportunity there and the people there. I just don’t have anything bad to say. It was a handshake — “Hey, it doesn’t work for you. It doesn’t work for me.” Okay, great. Awesome. That was it. And that’s okay. In life it’s perspective, right? It’s how you choose to handle it. We all have a choice in how to handle things. You could get angry and pissed off and bad-mouth people and take the low road and that’s not gonna get anyone anywhere, ever. I truly am grateful and I work from that.
DEADLINE: But your character just got married!
BURTON: Yeah, it was bad timing. The timing could have been better for sure!
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