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Exclusive: GH's Josh Kelly On Mac's Return — And Why Cody Won't Come Clean

josh kelly, john j york

Bahareh Ritter/ABC

Josh Kelly (Cody, l.) and John J. York (Mac)

Josh Kelly (Cody, General Hospital) is thrilled that on-screen dad John J. York is back in the Port Charles mix as Mac after the actor underwent a stem cell transplant to treat two forms of cancer.

Kelly admits to experiencing “so many emotions” when he learned of York’s health issues. “I try to stay optimistic in situations like this and primarily focus on the best-case scenario,” he says. “But I was scared.”

Back Where He Belongs

At the time York announced that he was taking a hiatus from GH, he and Kelly had begun to forge a close off-screen relationship. “We had just started really bonding, going on hikes and stuff together,” the actor explains. “And then he left [the show] and I was just really worried about him. I kept checking in, messaging him and wishing him well, and he said, ‘Hopefully I’ll be back in April,’ but then April came and went. He kept me updated and let me know how he was doing, and he was doing as well as could be expected, and one day he hinted at something, like, ‘I can’t tell you if I’m coming back, but I hope to see you soon.’ And that day, I got a script saying that I had a scene with Mac. It was great! When I found out that he was actually coming back, it made me so happy.

On York’s first day back on the GH set, Kelly greeted him with some musical fanfare. “I walked up with him onto the stage when he first came back and I played that [Mark Morrison] song, ‘Return of the Mack,’ on my phone. He didn’t quite get it because he wasn’t terribly familiar with that song, so I explained it to him [laughs]. But it was really sweet seeing him and Kristina [Wagner, Felicia] see each other for the first time. There was a lot of tears. It was really emotional and I was just so happy to be working with him again.”

Secrets Are No Fun

Cody has kept Mac in the dark about being his biological son since 2022 — and as viewers saw on the June 26 episode, when Cody and Mac’s first scenes since York’s comeback aired, he’s decided to continue to do so.

As Kelly sees it, in the months that Mac was away, “Cody’s feelings toward Mac’s family have gotten deeper, and he’s really entrenching himself into their lives, so it’s like he’s digging his own grave [the longer he lies to Mac about their true relationship].”

Which only makes it harder for Cody to come clean. “He doesn’t really know how to, yet,” Kelly asserts. “He’s still ashamed; he’s really ashamed of what he did, and now he feels like more of a liar, you know? He lied about the paternity test and sometimes it feels like it’s easier to live in a lie [than to ’fess up to it]. He’s got a good thing going, everyone’s getting along right now, and he knows that if he tells the truth, it’s gonna cause chaos and it might cause irreparable damage.”