His fans are thrilled, except for the ones who are totally pissed. Emmy winner Steve Burton made big news — and crushed a lot of hearts — last fall when he left his role as General Hospital mob man Jason Morgan and moved to Nashville. So how come he's back in L.A. and working at The Young and the Restless a mere three months later? Burton hits the CBS soap Jan. 29 as war vet Dylan McAvoy, the supposedly-dead ex of Avery Clark (Jessica Collins). TV Guide Magazine caught up with Burton to get the deets on this head-scratching career move. This star has some 'splainin' to do!
TV Guide Magazine: You can't be broke yet. Why jump back into the suds so soon?
Burton: I've had an incredible time with my family, taking my daughter to gymnastics, coaching my son's football team, shopping at Target — stuff I never got to do when I was at GH — but I never intended to retire. I'm a worker and CBS stepped up and made a deal. It all happened so fast, just like the telenovela I'm putting together with [Y&R exec producer] Jill Farren Phelps and James Franco for Sony. We're inches away on that project. It's looking very promising. The truth is, if I'd gotten an offer for a primetime show or a movie, I probably wouldn't be on Y&R right now. I just want to work.
TV Guide Magazine: You weren't out of work that long. Did you really have time to sit on your porch in Nashville — I'm assuming you have one — and really enjoy your new life?
Burton: I have a great porch! The move to Nashville forced me and my triple-A personality to slow down and appreciate the little things in life. I haven't had three months off ever! And it seemed like a year. Pretty soon I was saying to my wife, "Okay, what are we doing today, honey?" It wasn't that I was tired of sitting on my porch. I will never tire of that. But I was definitely ready to shake it up. People see me as Jason so much they forget I'm an actor. And an actor wants to explore! We're so blessed in daytime to have jobs that go on forever, but it does keep you from trying other things. Actors are gypsies. They're not supposed to have the same job for 20 or 25 years!
TV Guide Magazine: Word is, you have a very cool deal at Y&R that gives you tons of free time. True?
Burton: I'll get a lot of long weekends and frequent weeks off so I can get back to Nashville. I don't want to work five days a week like I did at GH. [Laughs] I was on the air so much even I was sick of me!
TV Guide Magazine: If GH had tried harder to accommodate your personal life would you still be there?
Burton: I don't want to point fingers. I know there are a lot of disappointed fans. They don't really understand what goes on behind the doors. They don't understand why I wouldn't go back to play Jason if I'm ready to work again. But what happens at GH should stay at GH.
TV Guide Magazine: It did seem like the new GH honchos weren't trying all that hard to keep you. Do you think your exit fit better with their story plans and their interest in cutting back on all the mob activity?
Burton: I don't feel it had anything to do with story. The flying back and forth was the sticking point. If I was still living in California, I'd still be with GH. It was too difficult production-wise to work things out and I understand that. I know how the business works and I'm not going to get mad over it. I don't want a show to break its back for one actor. It's not right. Besides, it really felt like it was time for me to go. I was gracious. They were gracious. There are no hard feelings with me and [exec producer] Frank Valentini.
TV Guide Magazine: You keeping up on GH since your exit?
Burton: Yeah, and I'm very excited they're doing so well. That show has brought so much positivity back to daytime. A year ago, it was all negative Nancy, right?
TV Guide Magazine: Maybe we should leave Ms. Grahn out of this. Did you sign a long-term or short-term contract with Y&R?
Burton: It's a short-term contract. We'll see how it works out. No one wants to be forced into anything.
TV Guide Magazine: Your reception on The Talk last week was phenomenal but we gotta ask: What's it like having Sheryl Underwood leap into the air and wrap her thighs around your pelvis like a boa constrictor?
Burton: [Laughs] Thank God I've been working out! I was ready for it! That whole situation on The Talk was overwhelming. I had no idea they were going to go that big or be that enthusiastic about this Y&R thing. It was crazy — like New Year's Eve kinda crazy.
TV Guide Magazine: You do look a lot slimmer.
Burton: I had to get back on TV before I gained more weight. [Laughs] Robust isn't my best look. I'm trying to be healthy so, yeah, I'm a lot thinner now. In fact, I've had an entire makeover! My Jason hair is gone and so are the black T-shirts. We'll see how far Jill pushes me. She'll be, like, "Okay, you have two more weeks and that shirt's coming off!" The costume department is definitely wanting me younger. They dropped my clothes down a full size. [Laughs] They put me in a medium to make me look buff.
TV Guide Magazine: How was your first day on the job?
Burton: Awesome. People were so great to me. Christian LeBlanc [Michael] and Daniel Goddard [Cane] greeted me and really helped me out. So did Sharon Case [Sharon] and Joshua Morrow [Nick]. I have so many friends in that CBS building — Kristoff St. John [Neil], Doug Davidson [Paul], Don Diamont [Bill on The Bold and the Beautiful] — but I definitely had those first-day-of-school jitters because I don't know who this Dylan character is yet. I just know I don't want him to be anything like Jason. But, then, I'm even concerned about that. I don't want to go too far away from Jason because that might be pushing it. It might get weird.
TV Guide Magazine: Are we headed for a Dylan-Avery-Nick triangle? Is Dylan going to beat the crap out of Nick?
Burton: I don't know yet, but I'm definitely going to hold down Joshua Morrow and shave off that famous scruff on his chin. And if he's going to be in a triangle with me, he needs to take off those goofy sweaters!
TV Guide Magazine: Any message for the fans?
Burton: Yes, please hang in with me on this! I'm a little nervous so cut me some slack. [Laughs] Maybe put the TV on mute for my first couple of episodes and look at the new hairdo. Everything's gonna be great...I promise!