Maurice Benard on the Shot Heard Around the World 2/1/10

by Sara Bibel
Feb 1st, 2010

Maurice Benard plays General Hospital’s mafia kingpin Sonny Corinthos.  For months, viewers have waited for Sonny to find out that his new associate Dominic is not only an undercover cop, but his long lost son Dante.  Last Friday, he finally learned the truth moments after shooting Dante in the chest.   Benard spoke about taping the intense scenes, whether Sonny will finally suffer the consequences of his actions and the rumors about Vanessa Marcil’s possible return.

How did you prepare for taping the scenes where Sonny shot Dante?

For me it was easy because working with Dominic [Zamprogna], it feels like he’s my son.  Plus I worked with Steve [Burton], [who is] pretty much the same way, before Sonny ends up shooting him.  But I made choices that I really, really started to care for him.  It made it hard when [Sonny] got to doing it.

How are Sonny’s relationships going to be impacted by his discovery that Dante is his son?

It’s devastating for everybody.  The only saving grace for Sonny, I think, is that he didn’t know he was his son.  It doesn’t excuse shooting anybody, but if he had known it was his son he absolutely wouldn’t have done it.

Is Sonny going to suffer any legal consequences for shooting a cop?

He is.  He’s going through a whole trial thing.  I’m playing it like Sonny believes he’s gone.  Every word he says to his son, to people he loves, he’s trying to act strong but he thinks it’s the end for him.

The scenes were an homage to the Godfather.  Did you watch the scenes to get into the mood?

No.  I’ve been doing this character forever so I just know him very well and in this situation they did a real nice job of both taking their time so you could truly believe [Dante and Sonny] started caring for each other.

As you said, you and Dominic Zamprogna really seem like father and son.  Other than the physical resemblance, what accounts for that connection?

It’s funny.  When I first I auditioned with him I just felt something.  He had an animal quality to him.  Like when I stood in front of him, I thought he was going to hit me.  I said, “This is what we need.”   I didn’t know him that well then but when he started, we just clicked.

Headwriter Bob Guza gave an interview where he referred to this storyline as “the penultimate. The cosmic guffaw.”  Can you explain what that means?

I don’t even know what that means. If I knew what that meant, I could elaborate on it.

What was the mood on the set when you were shooting the scenes?

It just seemed right.  It wasn’t that hard.  Like I said, me and Dominic, we kind of have this thing.  I remember the day that we did it people really seemed to dig it, the crew and what not.  That’s how you can tell.  Now that I’ve looked at the clips of it, it looks really cool.

How do you feel about ABC’s decision to air promos starting a couple weeks ago that revealed that Sonny shot Dante?

You know what?  The promos are so good, you’re going to want to watch it.  If the show is that good, then it’s worth it. I don’t think it’s giving it away. A lot of people are going to know anyway.  That’s just the way it works.  People talk.  They guess.  But I think it makes people really want to see what happens the next week.

Sonny did not believe Michael when he warned him about Dante.  How does the truth coming out impact their relationship?

It puts a bit of a strain on their relationship but I think they’re going to get into that more later.  I had one scene where I hugged him and he got a little tight on me.

In your opinion is Micheal’s morality permanently altered due to his brain damage or is he just a screwed up kid going through a rough time?

I would have to say that something happened when he was in the coma in his mind that’s made him a little bit out there.  To have these feelings of wanting to take over the mob and all this other stuff, I don’t think that’s normal for a kid his age.  He’s very young. That’s how I treat him when he tells me.  It’s like, “You’re a kid.”  I don’t know if he’s be like that if he hadn’t gotten shot.

How does Sonny feel about Olivia now?  Do you think they have a romantic future together?

She’s with Johnny so I think before the shooting Sonny was playing with the idea because that’s what he does but after the shooting I think it might hinder that a bit.  He’s got nobody.  He needs a girl.

Who do you think would be a good woman for him?

I don’t know.  Maybe we haven’t seen her yet.

Do you think there would be an interesting story to play if Sonny ended up leaving the mob as a result of shooting Dante?  Who do you think Sonny would be without the mob?

We tried that already.  But when we tried it before, it wasn’t written, really, to win.  It was written not to succeed.  I just don’t know how you can get him out.  You get out and they kill you.  That’s the way it works.  It would be interesting to see what other profession he could try.  I’ve always said maybe a senator.

Jax made an interesting comment recently.  He said that the worst thing Sonny ever did was transform Jason into a killer.  Would Sonny agree?

A grown up Sonny would.  But at that time, Jason had nothing.  He was helping Jason be somebody.  Now I think Sonny’s gone through so much and seen people go through so much that he would probably feel that way.  Jason makes his own choices,  Sonny’s not twisting his arm.  He’s a grown up.  He can say no, yes.  But at that time he was young and he had nowhere to go.  Sonny warned him.

Which one of Sonny’s children do you think is the most like him?

Obviously Michael wants to be like him, but I think deep down Micheal’s not like him which makes it interesting, because he’s trying to be something he’s not.  Obviously Dante is very much like him, which is interesting too because he’s a cop.  Morgan, I think he’s just a cute kid.  Maybe Kristina has something in there.

I think it’s fascinating that Kristina’s in a relationship with a guy who says terrible things about her when she was appalled to overhear Sonny saying terrible things about Claudia.

It’s those father issues.

In your opinion is Sonny a hero, a villain or something in between?

I think he’s in between.  Look, I think villains need to be mean.  I don’t think Sonny’s mean.  I think Sonny needs to get what he wants but deep down he’s just a fragile human being.

Who do you think has been the great love of Sonny’s life?

You’ve got to say Brenda.  And then you’ve got to say Carly because she’s the mother of his children and then Brenda because that was his first real big love. The thing about Sonny is when he loves, he loves.  He loved Emily.  He loved Kate.  I think those are the only other two.  He doesn’t just say, “I love you.”  He means it when he says it.

The semi-annual Vanessa Marcil is returning rumor is back again.  Do you think it will happen this time?

I don’t know if it will happen.  Those talks keep going on and on.  I know Sonny needs a girl because he hasn’t had one.  Claudia was just kind of a thing that happened.  It was not romantic.  So if Vanessa comes back it would be great for me, but we’ll see.

You mentioned a trial.  What’s Sonny going to be doing for February sweeps?

What’s interesting is as soon as [Sonny] shot him, the next week I was sick as a dog.  So it’s really going to look like Sonny was whacked out.  That wasn’t method acting.  That was me being really sick.  So I have these great scenes I don’t remember with Olivia, with Dante.  I’ve got to tell you, everyone on GH, not just my storyline, they’re actually doing some really great, great work.  It’s special to be on the show right now for me.  I’m watching other people now.

The whole show has been on fire the past few weeks.  Do you feel like GH is in a creative renaissance?

These shows go up and down.  We’re feeling like this is a way up one.  This is like a 30 foot wave.  I think Bob [Guza] is doing… I know some people have trouble with the mob and the violence and me and what not but you know what? It’s what Bob does so great.  This could be one of his best.