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Sarah Joy Brown Opens up About Leaving and Returning to GENERAL HOSPITAL

When Sarah Joy Brown made her daytime debut as Carly Benson on GENERAL HOSPITAL back in 1996, she made such an impression that the short-term role turned into a five-year stint! “She came on to be a six-month character and she’s been there for 25 years!” she marveled in an Instagram Q&A.

Brown believes the scene where Carly went into Bobbie’s house and put on her mother’s necklace was a pivotal one. “She’s looking at herself in the mirror and Bobbie walks in,” the actress recalled. “I think that was the first time that the audience really connected to Carly. I think it was the first time that I was really able to connect to her and really feel that the writer understood who she was and therefore I understood where they were going with her. So from that point forward, it just went and went and went. And that is thanks to a lot. It’s thanks to all the great actors who have played her, but also to the writers that have kept the stories interesting.”

General Hospital Sonny Carly Wedding
Brown’s chemistry with co-star Maurice Benard turned Carly and Sonny into a supercouple!Scott Garfield/ABC

The Daytime Emmy Award winner admitted that she is surprised that the character has remained popular for decades but doesn’t regret her choice to leave the soap. “I could have very easily stayed and done Carly for 25 years but it just wasn’t my dream,” Brown confessed. “I wanted to go out and do other things and I’m really glad that I did, to be honest with you. I got to do a lot of stuff that I wouldn’t otherwise. You know, if I had stayed in the role of Carly my whole life, I would have gotten to this point and wondered, ‘What else? What else could I do with my life?’ So I don’t regret leaving.”

Brown went on to appear in primetime series like CROSSING JORDAN, WITHOUT A TRACE, and COLD CASE as well as films like Big Momma’s House 2. She returned to daytime in 2004 for a short stint as Julia Larrabee on CBS sudser AS THE WORLD TURNS, and in 2008, returned to GH as a brand new character, the villainous Claudia Zacchara.

GH Claudia Carly
Playing Claudia brought Brown up against her former character!ABC/Ron Tom

“The thing that was most challenging for me,” Brown admitted of her return to Port Charles, “was how do I come back as a completely different character, convince the fans that this is a totally different character, fall in love with the same guy, marry the same guy, and not have them just go, ‘Oh come on, this is just like Carly.’ But for people to think that Claudia is this completely different character. And she is. She’s nothing like Carly.”

Claudia met a brutal fate in 2009, but Brown actually did come back to GH one more time for a special episode in 2014 that celebrated the soap’s 51st anniversary. In that show, Sonny reflected on his life with Carly and previous portrayers Brown and Tamara Braun reprised the role alongside current Carly, Laura Wright! More recently, Brown can be seen playing Laurie Smith in the streaming soap STUDIO CITY, which earned her yet another Daytime Emmy Award nomination this year! 

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