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General Hospital

Why Vanessa Marcil Was Cast on GENERAL HOSPITAL!


As GENERAL HOSPITAL’s casting director, Mark Teschner has hired hundreds of actors to appear on the soap over the years as series regulars, recurring players, and even Under-5 performers who have less than five lines of dialogue. In the recent episode of Maurice Benard’s State of Mind YouTube series, the legendary casting director told Sonny’s portrayer that even after all these years and nearly 8,000 episodes, he still gets “a rush” to see the performers whom he selects for a role appearing in the soap.

“You just want to feel like, ‘Yeah, that fits. That makes the scene better. That’s a great part of the show, no matter how small the role might appear,’” explains Teschner, who has won ten Daytime Emmy Awards for his work behind-the-scenes at GH. “But I still love it. It’s such a grind, daytime. It’s a train. It’s 250 episodes a year. You can’t become complacent. There’s no real downtime. Which, by the way, I’m grateful for, but it’s a lot. So, you have to love it in order to keep going and care about it.”

During his chat with Benard, Teschner offered some insight on some of his biggest casting coups for GH — including why he cast Vanessa Marcil as Brenda, who would rise to fame as one half of a soap supercouple opposite Benard. “You guys were great together. It was magic,” Teschner raved. “Vanessa was very raw but there was just something, this star quality, this presence, this beauty, the soulfulness, she was complex… it was everything.”

Teschner confessed that the casting team was so set on Marcil playing Brenda opposite Benard’s Sonny that “Vanessa was the only actress that we [screen-tested] for the role.”Cathy Blaivas/ABC via Getty Images

But as the story goes, Marcil nearly walked out on her audition. “When auditioning a contract role, I’ll see anywhere from 200 to 800 people,” Teschner explained, providing the backstory of what led to Marcil almost leaving. “You average about 40-45 actors a day, and I spread it out so it’s not a cattle call. So you might have three or four actors sitting in the [waiting] room then I bring each one in and they read with me in my office, opposite me. Vanessa was looking around the room and she thought, ‘These women are so beautiful, I’m never going to get this.’ She got up to leave. And as she was leaving, I opened the door and said, ‘Vanessa’ and she said she looked at me and knew she was going to get the role.”

Drawing on Benard’s platform as a mental health advocate, Teschner explained that Marcil — who was airing in heavy rotation on MTV at that time in the video for Prince’s song “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World” — had psyched herself out. “The most beautiful girl in the world didn’t think she was pretty enough and almost left,” he marveled. “And as cliché as it is, the rest became history.”

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