Steve Burton, who previously voiced brooding Final Fantasy hero Cloud Strife, has been fired from his long-standing role on General Hospital after refusing to comply with the soap opera’s vaccine mandate, the actor recently announced (h/t Variety).
“I know there’s been a lot of rumors and speculations about me and General Hospital, and I wanted you to hear it from me personally,” Burton told his 336,000 followers on Instagram. “Unfortunately, General Hospital has let me go because of the vaccine mandate. I did apply for my medical and religious exemptions, and both of those were denied, which hurts. But this is also about personal freedom to me.”
Kotaku reached out to Burton’s publicist for more information on the exemptions he mentioned, but the actor’s deployment of “personal freedom” as an excuse to not be vaccinated makes it easy to assume he’s not operating in good faith.
Burton joined the cast of General Hospital in 1991, where he would win several Daytime Emmy and Soap Opera Digest awards for his portrayal of rage-fueled amnesiac Jason Morgan. He left the show in 2012 after choosing not to renew his contract with ABC, spending four years on CBS soap opera The Young and the Restless, before returning to General Hospital in 2017.
Square Enix / Operation Reunion (YouTube)
During that time, Burton also made a name for himself as the exclusive English voice actor for Final Fantasy VII protagonist Cloud Strife. He first took on the role in 2002’s Kingdom Hearts, eventually voicing the Buster Sword-wielding SOLDIER for several sequels and spin-offs in both the Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts franchises, including the Final Fantasy VII follow-up movie Advent Children.
Burton’s last appearance as Cloud came in the 2018 Dissidia Final Fantasy NT fighting game, as Square Enix would cast newcomer Cody Christian to play Cloud in 2020’s Final Fantasy VII Remake. Sounds like the Japanese developer dodged a bullet with that one.