On March 9, Franco died a bloody death at the hands of Peter August, mark- ing the end of Roger Howarth’s run in the role he assumed in 2013 after a 2012-13 stint as his ONE LIFE TO LIVE alter, Todd Manning. The actor is not, however, leaving GH, though the show is keeping mum about what — and who — he’ll be tasked with playing when he returns to work next month.
The actor is touched that Franco’s demise caused such an outcry among “Friz” fans. “I’m grateful and I’m really proud that I was part of a pairing that generated such positive devotion,” he says. “I know that not every story is for every fan, but the people that were rooting for Franco and Elizabeth were just so super-supportive. I think in this world, it’s important to lift one another up and support one another and the way they all reacted and comported themselves on the Internet, which is a place where negativity and cruelty fester, they were always in the light. So I’m really grateful that I could make a few people smile. That makes me happy.”
As for his leading lady, Rebecca Herbst (Elizabeth), Howarth praises, “She’s beautiful. The way she sees the world is beautiful and she does beautiful work with grace and with humor and she’s just a beautiful scene partner. I think Becky makes magic. I think she can be playing a character in scrubs by a candy machine in the hub of a well-lit hospital and she has, like, a divining rod that will find the heart of the scene. She can always get Elizabeth to a place where the audience can’t help but feel the things that Elizabeth is feeling, and I think it’s no wonder that she’s so beloved by her fans. I’m sure that she is going to continue to delight and bring sparkle to whatever is next for Elizabeth. I’m sure of that. I’m grateful that I got to dance with her for as long as I did.”
Howarth also enjoyed developing Franco’s relationship with his stepson, Cameron, played by William Lipton. “I loved the dynamic between Cam and Franco and I think it was really special. William is such a sweet kid and that really radiates in his portrayal. It wasn’t ever difficult for me to tap into the level of respect that my character had for his character because I basically just had to stay out of his way. I expect big things from William Lipton. He is going to make a lot of people happy in his life with whatever he chooses to do — with his music, with his huge and considerable heart. That kid works really hard and I think it’s going to pay dividends. I’m excited to see that.”
He has a soft spot for other co-stars, as well. “I was really lucky to work with Kin [Shriner, Scott],” he says of Franco’s on-screen father. “He’s lovely. I was lucky to work with Kin and Kathleen [Gati, Obrecht] and Hudson [West, Jake] and Jason [David, Aiden] — they’re all lovely people and hardworking. About Kin specifically, he’s always surprising, he’s always fun and I think that’s really high praise, because fun is really important. Those were really valuable relationships to Franco. I hope that we generated a lot of goodwill and I hope that we made some people laugh.”
Reflecting on the evolution of the Franco character from psychopathic killer to devoted family man, Howarth muses, “I think that it’s important for us as people to continue to grow and change and shift and let go of things that don’t work for us, and find love and support and affection and do good in the world. I can get behind a story about that journey! To be part of a story where that was the journey of the character is a nice way to spend my workday.”
As for what his next chapter in Port Charles holds, Howarth offers, “If I knew I would tell you, but I don’t know! But I’m really excited. I have great faith in the people who think of these things. I’ve been in good hands so far.”
Howarth is putting his time off to good use: He recently joined Cameo, and via the Cameo app or by going to cameo.com/roger howarth, fans can book a video shout-out from the actor, who is donating 100 percent of the profits to Feeding America. “I’m really just trying to be of service because it makes me feel good,” he explains. “You know, I’m very fortunate, and there are a lot of people that are hungry, and I just wanted to help out. You can go to feedingamerica.org and donate directly if you’d like, but if you’d like something in return as an incentive, I will say happy birthday or give motivational shout-outs or do inspirational jigs or what- ever anybody is asking me to do! I’m up for anything and I want to have fun with this and I’ll do what I can to make someone laugh or smile. The more specific the request, the better. The only rule is that I won’t denigrate or disrespect myself or anybody else! This is a way for me to have fun and hopefully continue to make people laugh and smile that have been supportive to me over the years and to raise money to help people who are affected by poverty and hunger. My plan is to do it until I go back to work in mid-April, and at some point in that time, there will be sales, because I don’t want anybody to not do this because they can’t afford the initial price tag [of $100]. And if it works well, I’d like to continue to do it when I do go back to work, when I’m around other castmates who want to join in.”