Idol Chatter

Leaders among leading men, Anthony Geary (Luke), Maurice Benard (Sonny), and Steve Burton (Jason) sit down for a no-holds-barred Q&A!

 

Soaps in Depth  

April 29, 2003

By Rosemary A. Rossi

Photos by Jim Warren

When Soaps In Depth asked General Hospital stars Anthony Geary (Luke), Maurice Benard (Sonny), and Steve Burton (Jason) for an interview, we knew what we were in for: strong opinions, sharp insights and a whole lot of laughs. Now that you know what to expect, too, make yourself comfortable. Once you start reading this article, you won't be able to stop!

Soaps In Depth: How do three of the most popular actors on television like working together?

Steve Burton: I never see Tony.

Maurice Benard: Well, Tony and I hardly work together anymore.

Anthony Geary: The Fan Fantasy episode was the first time we had worked together in years.

Benard: That was great.

Geary: We had a ball. Working together with you more is high on my list.

Benard: Mine, too. When we did the fantasy, it reminded me of how great it was to work with you and how much we can feed off each other.

Burton: I want to work with Tony more. Maybe Luke needs a right-hand man, too.

Benard: They want Sonny and Luke as enemies, and it didn't really work out. They didn't write it like they wrote Jason and Sonny, where they could be enemies, but then they're not really enemies. Remember, Tony, that time you came up to me and said, "Do you like being Tonto?" I said, "What do you mean?" And you said, "Tonto to my Lone Ranger." When I said, "Not really," Tony said, "Go up and talk to those people." So I went up and told them that I wanted to "act," and if not, I'd leave. I had only been here like a year. So after that, they gave Sonny a history.

Burton: Now it's SONNY'S HOSPITAL. (Laughs.)

Geary: See how that worked out.

Burton: It's SONNYWORLD.

Geary: I hear that Disney is planning a new theme park in your honor! (They all laugh.)

In Depth: Although you've all put in a lot of years on GH, Tony gets a few extra vacation days here and there. Is there any behind-the-scenes jealousy?

Benard: We barely see Tony.

Burton: This guy works for a few weeks, then he's in Europe for 11 months.

Benard: Sounds great to me.

Geary: Hey, when your blood is as thick on the walls as mine is here, they will want you to take five months a year away just to keep your mouth shut about petty annoyances and script problems.

Burton: Yeah, I can picture it now: I'll be the only one here. Maurice will be here for a few weeks, then he'll spend the rest of the year in Nicaragua.

In Depth: You're all very popular with your co-stars. Do you ever read what the others say about you?

Geary: I stopped reading stuff about me early on. It was all lies.

Burton: I just read an interview where Maurice called me a pip-squeak. What is that all about?

Benard: When I see you, sometimes, you remind me of a pip-squeak.

Burton: Can you give me the definition, please, of a pip-squeak?

Benard: When I see a little pip-squeak...(Makes a face like a rat.)

Burton: We're supposed to be friends. So when you do interviews, don't bad-mouth me. I don't say, "Working with Sonny is like working with Erik Estrada." (They all laugh.)

Benard: That wouldn't bother me.

Burton: Maurice and I barely get through scenes anymore without laughing. If it's not one thing, it's another. And usually, it's about my hair.

Benard: Sometimes when I look at your hair, I can't help but start giggling. I mean, how high can it go? It's like Jack And The Beanstalk. It keeps growing up and up and up.

Burton: It takes a lot of preparation to work with Maurice Benard nowadays. It used to be (adopts a high-pitched voice) "There's my teacher. I love him so much. I just can't wait to act with him."

In Depth: What has been the most challenging storyline for you to play?

Geary: Without a doubt, the return of Stavros from the dead. That was really, really hard, because it made no sense. It was a massive mistake. It was hard to come to work and face that material.

Benard: It was very difficult to see you in those scenes, because I could tell that you really didn't care. You did what you had to do. But you're too good to be thrown into that kind of thing.

Burton: How come we didn't know someone was frozen in the basement of the hospital? I don't understand that.

Geary: It was so unbelievable. It denied so much of the past, and yet it was stuck in the past. It was a nightmare.

Benard: For me, what I've been doing the last month or two has been the most challenging. I like it because I get to show Sonny's other side.

Burton: Yeah, this is good stuff.

Benard: We get to go at each other . . .

Burton: . . . face off. They've always tried to find something that could come between us, and there's really been nothing. The combination of their situation with Courtney, and Sonny going through a breakdown, is going to make for good story that forces us to go head to head.

Benard: It's been very challenging and rewarding to me. And everybody has been very good.

Burton: When Sonny goes through a heavy story, everyone kind of steps up to the plate. All the acting has been great.

Benard: Especially Tamara Braun (Carly). She always gets overlooked, and she's underrated.

In Depth: When was the first time you realized the impact you were making on daytime?

Burton: When I was playing Jason Quartermaine, I would go on an appearance at a mall and maybe two people would show up. People would come up and say, "Where's the tool section?" or "Is this the place to sign up for a credit card?" That was embarrassing. Now, with the new Jason, the response is great, and the fans like what they've done with me. I always have a lot of fun meeting fans on appearances.

Benard: Early on, I went to a K-Mart once to sign autographs and nobody showed up. I started jumping around like a fool to get people to come over.

Burton: "Aisle three-Sonny's the Blue-Light Special!"

Geary: For me, it was an amusing but annoying little thing. An aunt of mine introduced me as her nephew, "Luke Spencer." That was surreal but also an eye-opener that it had become more than a job.

Benard: The Brenda/Sonny storyline was the beginning of it all for me. They had their thing, and it really caught on.

Burton: The truth of the matter is that if I were still Jason Quartermaine, I probably wouldn't be here anymore. Thank God my character changed. Back then, I was Sonny's little bitch.

Benard: You still are.

Burton: I'll be 60 with gray hair, and Sonny will be sitting in his penthouse like he's Marlon Brando. I can see the scene now--he won't even move. There'll be no blocking. He'll just sit in the chair and talk even lower, if you can imagine that.

In Depth: What is the strangest thing a fan has ever given you?

Geary: I had a big pile of mail in the corner of my dressing room that must have sat there for months. In the midst was a box that started to smell when I opened it. Somebody had sent me two Cornish hens. It was their offering for Thanksgiving. If I have advice for young actors, it's never eat anything that comes in the mail.

Burton: Maurice gets the best gifts.

Benard: Steve gets tons of gifts too. Sometimes he'll get packages stacked in front of his room. My ego can't take it, so I take some of the boxes and put them in front of my room so people who walk by can see that I have some too.

Burton: I get a lot of cool stuff. It's true.

Benard: But the stuff I get is great stuff. I got a signed Muhammad Ali glove. I've gotten autographed photos of everybody from Evander Holyfield to Al Pacino. I really feel bad when I don't get around to responding to those who send things, but I really do appreciate the things that I get.

Geary: I get autographed brassieres.

In Depth: Is there a female character on the show, past or present, that you could see your character having a fling with?

Geary: For Luke, Lucy Coe. We almost did a while back. Lynn Herring and I were good together, too. Actually, there've been a lot of women that Luke would have been interested in, but Laura has been his heart and soul.

Burton: Acting with Lynn Herring would be great.

Geary: As I recall, we laughed a lot. She's fantastic.

Benard: I've always thought it would be interesting for Sonny to have an affair with Laura. She was like a prima donna to him. If they have a friendship and all of a sudden it went further, it would have been very interesting.

In Depth: Is there a story that has yet to happen that you would love to play out?

Geary: I've always wanted to see Luke go completely bad. Evil bad. I've always felt that Laura was his humanity, and if it hadn't been for her, he would have been a really bad guy. You think he has a good heart, but he's an anarchist. He totally lives with his own moral code and rejects all others. I think he's a vindictive man. And I think he's a lot more dangerous than we've allowed him to be.

Benard: The anti-hero.

Geary: Right. They've systematically moved me away from anti-hero, and I resent it. Who wants to wear a white hat and be everyone's hero? I'd like to see Luke go completely evil and do some really loathsome things, cause a great deal of harm and pain to people.

Benard: It would be very interesting for Luke to go in that direction, to be evil. Maybe he could be one of Sonny's hit men. That would be great!

Burton: What about me? I'm left out in the cold now. I guess you could just freeze me and put me in the basement. Thanks, guys.

In Depth: What do each of you think are the others' best traits?

Geary: Maurice is honest, fearless. He doesn't worry a lot about what people are thinking about him. I find that really attractive and, for an actor, unusual.

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