It’s no secret that GENERAL HOSPITAL’s Brenda was tight with Sonny, but few know that in real life, her portrayer, Vanessa Marcil, is like a member of her former screen husband’s extended family. “I’m very close friends with Maurice’s wife, Paula,” he actress confided to Soaps In Depth, adding that she always wanted to be respectful, especially during the hottest parts of Sonny and Brenda’s romance. “It is a weird thing to have your husband be in love with somebody on set, even though it’s just acting. But the one thing I’ll say about Maurice and Paula is they know they could call me at 3 a.m. and ask me to hide a dead body for them, and I would be at their house with a ski mask on, no questions asked. We’re that kind of close.”
The added bonus of being the keeper of someone’s secrets is that you know them pretty well. So we asked Marcil if there was something about Benard that, despite all that’s been written about him, might still surprise fans. “I don’t think people really know how funny he is — ferociously, intelligently funny — because his character’s certainly not supposed to be a super hilarious guy,” Marcil laughed. “And even with how vulnerable he gets in his work, I still don’t think people truly know how much of a softie he is in real life.”
On GH, Brenda found herself torn between two men with two very different personalities and a viewership that wasn’t shy about expressing their opinions about with whom they thought she should be. “You’re lucky if you play one love story in your career that really resonates with fans, and I got to play two” — with Sonny and Jax, Marcil said humbly. “[But] for me, they really weren’t in competition with each other because Sonny was the man who saved Brenda’s life — she really would die for him — and Jax was this beautiful, Disney-movie, fun, laughter, light kind of love. I think they’re both equally important in her life.”
The fact that fans still reach out to Marcil on a daily basis to connect, remember Brenda’s storylines, and encourage her to return and pick up where the character and Sonny left off, is something that the actress said means “everything” to her. “I’ve been at home doing laundry, cleaning the floors, or sitting in line picking up my son from school, and I’ll open my Instagram or Twitter, and the [outpouring of] love is just crazy,” she shared. “It’s unfathomable that they would think about me or be as attached to a character that I played about six years total when [others] on GH have been playing their characters for 25 or more years. It’s an honor.”
Kassius, the theater-loving high schooler that Marcil gave birth to just months before bringing Brenda back to the show in 2002, has played witness to her career. “He always says, ‘If I turn out like you, Mom, I’ll be the luckiest guy in the world’ which is the cutest thing ever for your son to say,” she related. “And I always tell him, ‘If I found out I was gonna die tomorrow, I would have literally lived every single dream and beyond that I ever had as a kid because of all of these experiences that I’ve had.’ I can’t believe that I got paid for any of this. It’s really hard work, but [as actors], we love it so much that we’d all also do it for free… It’s like oxygen.”
For more on your favorite GH stars — past and present — keep reading the ABC edition of Soaps In Depth magazine. And celebrate Benard’s 25th anniversary on the soap with our special collector’s edition coffee table book celebrating his life in Port Charles. Click here for more information and to order a copy for yourself!
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