Now that his memoir, Nothing General About It: How Love (And Lithium) Saved Me On And Off GENERAL HOSPITAL, has dropped, Maurice Benard is on cloud nine — and not just because he’s getting rave reviews. Sonny’s portrayer is hoping his story will help others struggling with mental illness and is determined to take his advocacy to the next level. Here, in part two of his in-depth interview, he explains how his goals have changed.
Between Mike’s heartbreaking deterioration and the brewing Mob war, Benard is loving Sonny’s drama these days. In recent years, he’s also had a blast stretching himself with side gigs like playing John Gotti in Lifetime’s Victoria Gotti: My Father’s Daughter and working with Mickey Rourke in Nightmare Cinema. And Benard can’t wait for fans to see him play chief of police when his next movie, Equal Standard, is released. “I’m just proud of the film,” he said. “Sometimes you have to say that, but this is a very timely movie about racism and cops.”
The GH leading man is particularly grateful to GH executive producer Frank Valentini for letting him seize the opportunities. “He’s allowed me to do a lot outside of GH, and a lot of producers don’t,” Benard explained. “With one producer, I couldn’t even take vacations without saying something six months in advance. It’s cool that Frank’s like that, because I need to do other stuff while I do Sonny.” Now, however, that “other stuff” Benard feels the need to do has changed.
Inspired by the response he’s gotten to his Sunday State Of Mind Instagram stories and now his memoir about living with bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety, Benard is no longer looking for his next big role. “Obviously, if something great comes along, I would do it,” he said with a wink. “But my goal is to be a motivational speaker. I would love to put together a whole show on mental health — along the lines of what I do in State Of Mind but with slides and guests.”
Discussing his mental-health journey is nothing new to Benard — who opened up about it on THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW back in 2004 and even shares his bipolar diagnosis with his GH character. “I’ve been talking about this for 30 years,” he says. “It’s been important to me from the beginning, but now it’s really important in the world. People are now, I hope, ready to figure out how to talk about it and help people.”
“If you had any idea the number of responses I get to State Of Mind from people literally on the verge of killing themselves,” Benard sighed. “Four-hundred-fifty-million people all over the world suffer with mental illness. People are going through a lot, and people are killing themselves. It’s the reason we have to keep talking!”
With the COVID-19 pandemic adding to everyone’s anxiety, Benard remains determined to spread his message of hope and help to others. As he formulates the next phase of his career as an advocate, he has big ideas but told GH fans not to worry. “I would balance that with GH,” said the actor, who has been itching to get back to Sonny’s world and can’t wait to see what the future holds for both of them. “My life has been a journey — with my fans, my family, my friends, and my co-workers. And the journey is just beginning!”
This story originally appeared in our print magazine
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