Sonny Delight

Maurice Benard is juiced about his new contract, his new cause and his new nemesis.

Soap Opera Weekly

March, 18, 2003

By Carolyn Hinsey

 

Maurice Benard joined General Hospital in 1993 as moody mobster Sonny Corinthos, and his character has cut a healthy swath through the women of Port Charles ever since (Brenda, Lily, Carly, Alexis . . . ). Personally, Benard and his wife, Paula, are happily raising daughters Cailey and Cassidy (along with a menagerie of pets too numerous to mention here). The good news for GH fans is that despite Vanessa Marcil's high-profile exit from the role of Brenda last month, Benard will be sticking around . . .

Soap Opera Weekly: You re-signed your contract, right?

Maurice Benard: In January, for two years. Things are great.

Weekly: They're working you a lot.

Benard: Yeah (laughs). I get tired at times, but the feeling is of getting back to where is used to be. You live the character more when they write better. You don't have to come in and do things you question. You come in and just say the lines. You're almost living the story because the story's so good. That's what it's getting back to.

Weekly: What's your favorite part of the story right now?

Benard: Ric (played by Rick Hearst). I have a lot of fun with him. First of all, he's a good actor. And Sonny doesn't quite get him yet, so trying to figure him out is fun. But the main thing (acting opposite) somebody who can act. That's the joy of coming into work. Otherwise, I get frustrated.

Weekly: What did you think of how GH handled Brenda coming back?

Benard: I thought the Brenda story was great as far as it went, but Brenda/Sonny was kind of insignificant.

Weekly: It's good that they didn't break up Sonny and Carly, since Vanessa Marcil didn't stick around, huh?

Benard: Fantastic. It was smart, because if they had done that they would have really been screwed. I just think they could have done a little more with the story for Sonny and Brenda. Not so much where you break up Sonny and Carly, but at least stuff with more depth to it.

Weekly: As opposed to stranding them on a deserted island?

Benard: You know I wasn't happy with that.

Weekly: I know. So we're finding out more about Ric's agenda now?

Benard: Yeah.

Weekly: Is it true that Ric is Lily's brother?

Benard: Well, that's the rumor. Hopefully he will be, and then we can play that out. It would be fantastic. But I don't know.

Weekly: And things with your other co-stars are good?

Benard: Tamara (Braun, Carly) and I are having fun . . . Steve (Burton, Jason) is great. The acting talent on this show is unreal. It truly is. Because, like I said before, the main thing with me is just working with good actors. I can be happy with that, but of course then you've got story in front of that and it's amazing. It's the best of all worlds. I can deal with not-great story and working with good actors, but I can't deal with great story and not-good actors.

Weekly: How's the family?

Benard: Great. The girls are great. They're fun, man. I have a lot of fun with 'em.

Weekly: What else is going on?

Benard: I'm launching a campaign right now for manic depression.

Weekly: What's the thrust of the campaign?

Benard: It's called "Do You Know It?" Basically what it's saying is, "Do you know if you are bipolar?" I did a satellite media blitz, 28 or 29 interviews on TV and radio, one after another [recently]. I've never done that before, but I think I did a good job. It was all about launching this campaign, and I'm extremely proud to do it. Basically, the message is, if you think you have it, get help. Get medication. It's not the end of the world. You can have a successful life. I've done it. You just have to be treated and stay on your medication.

Weekly: Which you learned the hard way.

Benard: Twice. Every time I've gone off my medication I've had a manic episode, so I've been on my medication now for 10 years straight and it's been fine.

Weekly: What medication are you on?

Benard: Lithium. I take four pills a day.

Weekly: So your goal with the campaign is to put a face on mental health?

Benard: Yeah, the people. I'm involved with, the National Mental Health Association, are doing a great job.

Weekly: So you were on GH's preliminary Emmy list?

Benard: Yeah, you know, me and the Emmys don't . . . we don't...I don't know. But the press has been great. {TV Guide's] Michael Logan wrote some nice things. I appreciate that. But who knows? We'll see. I truly feel that if this year I don't get a nomination then I just won't put myself in it. It's just not worth it for me. But I feel good about the show that I picked out, even during a bad year. I have two shows that I'm very, very happy with. But then again, I've been happy before. You were there. "And the winner is..." Twice.

Weekly: Do you just not want to get your hopes up?

Benard: Yeah. The truth of the matter is, you wait for the nomination, and then the day comes and you get that call-or you don't get the call--and it hurts a little bit. I mean, it's not the end of the world . . .

Weekly: . . . but it is the highest award in our industry.

Benard: Right, I work real hard. There are a lot of actors, obviously, who work real hard, but I would at least like to get nominated again. Winning, well, there are a lot of things that have to go on to win. But at least to get nominated. So that would be the reason I would say if this year it doesn't happen, there's no point. But we'll see.

Weekly: What do you think about the fan campaigns: Sonny/Alexis vs. Sonny/Carly vs. Sonny/Brenda?

Benard: Obviously it has to be flattering, and it is-to have fans like that. But I find it amusing that sometimes they want me to convert. They want me to go to their camp "You shouldn't like so-and-so, you should like so-and-so. You should like us and not them." What am I supposed to do? I love working with all of these women. I think they're all great.

Weekly: So all three fan camps should just sing Kumbaya and move on?

Benard: Yeah, because I have no preference. And even if I had a preference, I probably wouldn't say it. But I don't. It is a joy to work with all of them.

Weekly: Why doesn't he want Courtney with Jason?

Benard: Because he's in love with Jason (laughs). No! It's very simple. He's a control freak, obviously. But the bottom line is, when you've seen someone you love die right in front of you because of you, you just try to prevent another death. And in reality, Courtney would die eventually.

Weekly: But couldn't she die because she's Sonny's sister just as easily as she could die because she's Jason's girlfriend?

Benard: Well, Jason has a valid point and she has a valid point. Like I said, it's a control thing.

Weekly: Can Sonny sense something is weird with Carly and Ric?

Benard: It's funny, because we just did a scene a couple of days ago where I said to the director, "You've got to be more subtle. I'm catching things here." So they played it more subtle.

Weekly: Sonny would never think Carly would sleep with Ric.

Benard: No, never. Never. He's a slick little (jerk). He's nothing. He's not threatening. Sonny made a deal with Carly that she could work with him. Fine. He's a good lawyer. I said it today when I did the scene, "He's a good lawyer."

Weekly: Could Sonny forgive Carly for doing whatever she did with Ric?

Benard: I can't even put it into words. I've said this to a producer, but that's different, because this is print...If a man were to go be with her, done. Can't do it. I know women are going to go, "You have double standards," because Sonny (dallied with ) Angel and Sonny slept with Alexis. But there are no double standards when it comes to these guys. Ric hasn't done anything to show Sonny that he wouldn't want his wife around this monster. That's not what he's playing. We've talked about it-me and Rick. It's a very thin line. Sonny would never think that . . .

Weekly: Ric would sleep with his wife?

Benard: Right.

Weekly: And when Sonny finds out?

Benard: (big smile) Ric's dead.

According to the National Mental Health Association, there are an estimated 2.5 million Americans living with bipolar disorder. And as many as 80 percent of persons who have the disorder go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed for up to 10 years. For more information about bipolar disorder, contact the NMHA at 1-800-969-NMHA or visit www.nmha.org

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