Viewers were heartbroken when Courtney was killed off back in 2006 and in a recent episode of Maurice Benard’s (Sonny) YouTube series, State of Mind, portrayer Alicia Leigh Willis revealed the real reason she left GENERAL HOSPITAL. And it turns out that a major factor in her decision not to renew her contract and leave the soap was Benard’s backstage behavior as he struggled with his bipolar disorder.
“I didn’t know what you were going through,” Willis admitted to her TV brother. “All I knew is that you and I were really close. And I always had a way of taking things really personally. So if someone was in a bad mood around me, I felt like it was my fault, like I had done something.
“So for a long time, I didn’t know which Maurice I was gonna get,” she continued. “One day you were the most charming, amazing… and then another day I was a little scared. I was just like, does he hate me? Did I do something? I didn’t understand at the time.
Although there were other factors to her decision to leave GH, this backstage drama was a major part of it. “I remember the last year of the show was really dark,” Willis confessed. “I would go to my dressing room and I would just cry. And it wasn’t just that. That was a big part of it, but I felt like we had such a good connection. That was a big reason.
“This is the first time I’ve ever actually said that out loud,” she added. “Because people said, ‘Why are you leaving the show? They’re offering you another four years. You’re a working actress. What are you doing?’ And I’m like, “I can’t stay. I’m so unhappy.’”
Of course, everything changed when Benard was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and got his condition under control, and Willis now understands what was going on back then. “After I saw the Oprah interview, it clicked,” she told Benard. “And now the journey that you are on is so incredible. Because people need to talk about it. I wish we had talked about it 20 years ago! If we had had this kind of dialogue back then? Think of how much easier it would have been for all of us to just talk to each other.”
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