"This feels like a new beginning to me and I really do believe that all things happen for a reason and I have a great trust in that," said Howarth, who first joined the series as his 'One Life to Live' character Todd Manning
In his first interview following his exit after 11 years and nearly 900 episodes, Howarth told Soap Opera Digest he learned of the storyline shakeup "several weeks ago" when Executive Producer Frank Valentini called to tell him that once his contract with ABC expired, he "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 story."
"It took me a minute to kind of adjust, to kind of hear the news; it took a second for me to let that settle in. And then, immediately, I realized 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," he explained. "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 continued, "For me, I felt it was very much like the scene in Moneyball and Jonah Hill had just told me I’ve been traded. I feel very respected and supported. For a long time, I've enjoyed coming to work, learning lines and saying them with really cool people."
Howarth first joined General Hospital in 2012 while crossing over as his One Life to Live character Todd Manning following the latter's cancellation that year. The actor — who won a Daytime Emmy Award for the One Life to Live role in 1994 — then went on to play Franco Baldwin (who was killed off in 2021) and later Austin Gatlin-Holt on General Hospital.
Of getting to play three different characters across his decade-plus run, Howarth told the outlet: "I can't tell you how thankful I am that I was supported by writers and producers who had enough faith in me as an actor to ask me to play three different parts. Think about that! Lucky me. That’s pretty great."
Howarth finished shooting the long-running series in October. As for how things are going for him now, he noted that "life is great."
"Everyone I love is happy and healthy. I have a grandkid who has taken her first steps. I’m adjusting to the idea that I have a lot of potential [career-wise] and I’m not scared and I’m not anxious," he shared. "This feels like a new beginning to me and I really do believe that all things happen for a reason and I have a great trust in that. It's a very exciting time to be me. I'm just really grateful. I know it sounds a little cliche, but I really am."
"I'm just really grateful that I got to do something I loved for a long time and I’m excited about what's next. I don't know what it’s going to be, but in some sense I feel like I'm just getting started," he continued. "You know, it was never the plan to keep the job for as long as I did. I did it because I enjoyed it and it was rewarding, but I moved to New York City with a bunch of other young actors and we were carving out lives for ourselves."
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Outside of his work within the daytime soap arena, the As the World Turns alum — who shares two children with his wife Cari Stahler, to whom he's been married since 1992 — has appeared on shows like Californication, The Flash and Dawson's Creek. He also appeared in the films What Doesn't Float, The Final Rose, Destruction Los Angeles and Liebestraum.
Though Howarth is "certainly ready for what's next," he told Soap Opera Digest that he would "one hundred percent" return to the soap opera world following his General Hospital exit.
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