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For soap actor, character creates options

Billy Miller poses after receiving a Daytime Emmy Award in June. (Associated Press)
Billy Miller poses after receiving a Daytime Emmy Award in June. (Associated Press)
Alicia Rancilio Associated Press

NEW YORK – So far playing a recast character has worked to Billy Miller’s advantage.

He was the fourth actor to play Billy Abbott on CBS’ “The Young and the Restless” and earned three Daytime Emmy Awards.

Now, the 35-year-old actor is playing Jason Morgan on ABC’s “General Hospital.”

Steve Burton played Jason for 20 years until 2012, when the character was presumed dead. Recently, Jason was hit by a car, wiping away his memory (and giving Miller a clean slate to work with in the role).

“It would be ridiculous for me to mimic” the way Burton played him, Miller said in a recent interview.

What he’s brought to the character so far is levity. His version of Jason (or “Jake” as he goes by now) smiles and jokes.

“It’s more fun in this genre whenever you can add some lightness to it or make it funny. You don’t get a lot of room for that, so I usually look for it. It’s a scary position for this guy who is so lost and doesn’t know who he is, (so) you match that with a little bit of humor,” he said.

However, Miller looks forward to the day when Jason’s past collides with his present.

“It really does offer up some great story if we decide to go there. I really hope that’s how we explore this because I feel like that might be more my strength,” he said.

He’s also looking forward to interacting with other “GH” stars like Maurice Benard and Roger Howarth. He’s particularly interested in working with longtime star Anthony Geary, saying, “I can’t wait for that acting class.”

Miller left “Y&R” early this year. It was soon rumored that he would take over the role of Jason.

“It was entirely premature. I was fortunate enough to have considerable options,” Miller said. He was able to largely block out the chatter because he doesn’t use social media.

“Every girlfriend I’ve ever had, our first major fight that we had started off with a text that I thought was funny. Sarcasm clearly doesn’t work in print unless you put those little emoticons in there and I’m way too old to have to use emoticons,” he joked.

“General Hospital” has several hiatuses throughout the year, giving some actors time for other projects if the schedule allows. Miller also has a role on Monday’s “Major Crimes” on TNT and an upcoming episode of USA’s “Suits.”

“I’ve always thought the bigger your body of work, the more you’re able to survive for a longer time,” he said.

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