As he was nearing his 25th anniversary as GENERAL HOSPITAL’s dimpled don, Sonny Corinthos, the soap’s legendary leading man, Maurice Benard, caught himself reflecting back through the years. “I was telling people, ‘I’ve done it all, 20 times over,’” he told Soaps In Depth with a laugh. “‘There’s nothing left to play.’” But boy, was he wrong! The Emmy winner has spent the past six months in the thick of things with one of the soap’s most riveting stories. “I guess there is more to do,” he conceded with a big smile.
While the GH vet has enjoyed probably dozens of his co-stars, it’s hard to imagine being any more impressed by an acting partner than he is with Max Gail (Mike) in their touching father/son story. Benard admitted that the drama of the plot weighs on him at times. Thankfully, GH now has regular hiatuses during which he gets to hang with his family, recharge his batteries and remember how lucky he is to dig into a character like Sonny. “Since the beginning, they’ve been really good at not ever writing him out of character, doing stupid stuff,” he marvels. “They put Sonny in a box that’s pretty cool. Now, a lot of people may not like that box — because he’s a mobster and he’s too violent — but they’ve been true to this character for the most part. For 25 years, that’s pretty good!”
While Sonny has largely gone unchanged over the last 25 years, daytime has changed a lot. “The main difference, of course, is that scenes are a lot shorter,” Benard noted. “Before, we would have seven-page scenes, and you would have a beginning, middle and end. It was hard sometimes, but it was cool to have that. There also used to be a lot more violence and Mob story. But, I’ve been lucky to have had so many great storylines in the 25 years. This current story is right up there” with the best.
Thinking of past storylines, Benard remembered the Robin/Stone AIDS plot, Sonny’s struggle with bipolar and Morgan’s subsequent battle with the same mental illness (and eventual death) “as all being very powerful – and I think important — as well.” Benard also gave a nod to Lily’s Port Charles demise as a favorite story.
The truth is, the actor has loved getting into it with just about everyone in Port Charles — from TV sons Chad Duell (Michael), Bryan Craig (ex-Morgan), and Dominic Zamprogna (ex-Dante) to veteran co-stars Laura Wright (Carly), Steve Burton (Jason), and Kin Shriner (Scotty) to current scene partners Gail, Maura West (Ava), Matt Cohen (Griffin), and the rest of his on-screen gang. “Yes, it feels like it’s been 25 years,” he admitted. But “I’m happy with everything I’m doing.”
In closing, we gave Benard a Herculean task — asking him to describe the 25 years since first he stepped onto the GH stage in one word. And without missing a beat, and perhaps looking just a bit proud, he said simply, “family.” “Because at the end of the day,” he concluded with a smile, “GH is my family.”
Celebrate Benard’s 25 anniversary with our special edition coffee table book chronicling his history in Port Charles. Click here for more details and to find out how to get a copy for yourself. And for more on your favorite GH stars, keep reading Soaps In Depth magazine!
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