General Hospital star Steve Burton has quit the long-running U.S. soap opera after 21 years.
The actor has played hitman Jason Morgan on the popular TV programme since 1991, and he is set to take his final bow this autumn (12) in order to spend more time with his family and pursue other career options.
He tells TV Guide Magazine, "I've been through 21 years of ups and downs with Gh - regime changes, cast and crew changes, budget cuts, shakeups of one kind or another, and it's been nothing but a huge positive in my life and for my family. I have no complaints, no negative feelings at all. But it's time to go.
"I'm going to take some time off and do nothing but relax, just enjoy life a little bit with my wife and kids. I've bought a home in Tennessee, way out in the country outside Nashville... I've been talking about leaving Gh and moving there for the last seven years... The people are nice, it's family oriented and, now that my kids are six and almost nine, I want to get them planted."
But, Burton insists the decision to leave was not easy.
He adds, "This show has been my life, my family. I grew up there! I tried to sit down and write a statement to the fans to say how I feel and how much I appreciate them because they have been absolutely amazing and so incredibly loyal... and it was really, really tough. I couldn't get through it."
However, the 42 year old is looking forward to whatever lies ahead: "As cool as it was to know I had a nice, cushy place to go every day with Gh, I think it's going to be just as cool to not have a nice, cushy place to go every day. I like not knowing what's next for a change. I'm jumping off a cliff in a total leap of faith."