Sean Kanan Sean Kanan

Nearly 20 years after joining General Hospital as black-sheep boozer A.J. Quartermaine, actor Sean Kanan is heading back to the ABC soap and will hit the air Oct. 29... but what role is he playing?

A.J. was murdered (by a psychotic psychiatrist, no less!) back in 2005 when the part was played by Billy Warlock. But, hey, this is a soap! Is it possible the tortured, trouble-making A.J. is coming back from the dead? Is the popular Kanan taking on a brand-new role? Or is he a surprise recast for A.J.'s brother Jason, the role being vacated by Steve Burton? (Burton is scheduled to exit Oct. 22). 

ABC is keeping the deets strictly under wraps — in fact, the network hopes Kanan's role will stay a secret until he actually appears on air — but TV Guide Magazine did score an exclusive chat with the star. And despite all the mystery, we did find out one thing for certain. No one's more surprised he's returning to GH than he is!   

"This is all pretty surreal and utterly unexpected — in fact, I thought it was going to take an Act of Congress to get me back on GH!" says Kanan, referring to his wildman ways and past alcohol issues that led to his ouster from the show in 1997. "GH is one of those places I never thought I'd see again and that makes what's happened even more exciting. My life has changed completely since those days. I'm newly married and have a baby on the way. I also have an 11-year-old daughter and four stepchildren. I'm not the guy I used to be."

But as grateful as he is to be asked back, Kanan wasn't about to mess with a good thing. He's currently seen in a juicy recurring role as badass Deacon Sharpe on CBS' The Bold and the Beautiful, a part he has also played on sister soap The Young and the Restless. "I needed to make sure the job at GH had real legs," he says. "I needed to know it wasn't going to be a quick bit of stunt casting, just for ratings. Otherwise, I wasn't about to say goodbye to CBS and the Bells, who have been very good to me for more than a decade, and close the door on that chapter of my life."

Not only did GH exec producer Frank Valentini assure Kanan there are major long-term stories planned for him, "Frank also put his money where his mouth is and gave me a contract," says the actor. "These days, in this environment and this economy, there are not a lot of soap contracts being handed out. So, needless to say, I'm extremely happy. I can't wait to see what the writers come up with!" 

And we can't wait to talk to Kanan again when we can really talk! 

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