Is Sonny Heading for the Slammer

TV Guide Magazine

by Michael Logan  January 28, 2010

It’s a big, bad week for General Hospital's Sonny Corinthos. The Port Charles mob don Maurice Benard) will shoot undercover cop Dante Falconeri ( Dominic Zamprogna) at point-blank range in the Friday’s episode (January 29), then find out what fans have known for ages—Dante is his son! Then next week Sonny is arrested for the ax-murder of his wife, Claudia ( Sarah Brown), a crime that was actually committed by his adopted son, Michael ( Drew Garrett). Will Sonny, who’s taking the rap to protect his kid, really go to the slammer? TV Guide Magazine got the scoop in a rare interview with the Emmy-winning Benard.

Karma’s here and it’s about to kick Sonny in the ass.
Yeah, man, it’s exciting. This is really good stuff. I’m loving it! Sonny shooting his own son is probably the worst thing that could happen to him. It should remind him of how violent his life is.

Ya think? But somehow that never lasts long with him. He always regrets his life of crime whenever it violently affects his kids or his women, but he still sticks with it.
That’s Sonny. Anything having to do with his kids just breaks his heart. And that’s so easy for me to play. All I have to do is think of my own children and I’m right there, man.

Isn’t that what always bonds audiences to mobsters—the love they feel for their families? We’ve seen that in every classic underworld drama from The Godfather to The Sopranos.
And that goes for the real-life gangsters, too. They’ll shoot you dead in the street but you always hear stories about what a great bond they have with their families. That’s interesting to me. I think it’s because kids are so pure. In Sonny’s world, you’re always dealing with people who are animals. You can’t trust anybody. But with kids it’s different. They’re all about heart and honesty. [Laughs] And, hopefully, they’re not going to grow up and stab you in the back!

This Dante reveal has been building since his mom, Olivia [ Lisa Lo Cicero], hit the show more than two years ago—surprising at a time where we soap viewers are usually treated like we have A.D.D.
It’s been nice to have that slow build. Usually, they do a story in two weeks. Of course, you can’t build on something if it’s not that good to begin with. Also, we really needed time so that Sonny didn’t come off like a moron. He couldn’t come to trust Dante after just a month. He needed to slowly start liking the guy, a little here, a little more there. Otherwise, the audience would be going, “This is stupid. Why would Sonny ever trust this guy?” Now we’re at the point where Sonny has really come to care about Dante in a weird way—it’s like on some level he already knows he’s his son before he finds out for sure. The whole thing plays kind of eerie. It’s cool stuff, man. I’m getting excited just talking about it. It’s a good time to be at GH right now.

What kind of input do you have in the show? Do you walk down the hall to have a little chat with head-writer Bob Guza when something’s not to your liking?
You know what? I try to have as little input as I can. When I used to try and have a lot of input, I was pulling my hair out. Once I gave it up and said, “I’m done trying to change things,” I became a much happier person. I’m friends with Bob and with [executive producer] Jill Phelps but just don’t talk to them as much. Not that I don’t like them. I do. I let them do what they’re doing. And you know what? At this point they’re showing that they don’t need much help. Things go up and down, but things have been on the upswing with me for a good while. I’m not complaining.

Do you watch your own work?
Every so often when there’s something I think might be good. And then usually I go, “No, that wasn’t as good as I thought it’d be.” The other day I tuned in to see Jonathan Jackson’s big scenes—where Lucky tears into Elizabeth and Nikolas for having an affair—and he was phenomenal! There’s a lot of damn good actors on the show right now. It’s good to watch them work—especially the young ones. I love Drew who plays Michael. I have a rapport with him that’s cool as heck. And Dominic I clicked with from the get. When I auditioned with him, we had this confrontation scene and he was the only one of the Dantes who I felt was really gonna punch me out. There was this animal thing there. Damn he was great.

So what’s Sonny thinking by taking the rap for Michael? Does he imagine he’ll somehow get off and this will all blow over?
Nah, I don’t think so. Not this time.

So he’ll go to prison?
I think that’s how they’re writing it so I’m playing it to the hilt. I truly believe Sonny’s done this time. He wants his son to be safe and he sees no other way out. And Sonny wants Dante to feel like he’s the one responsible for sending him to prison. He doesn’t think he can get away with it this time—at least that’s the way I’m playing it in the scenes we’re shooting now.

This thing will go to trial?
Yeah. And I’m going to play it from here to whenever that this is the last time Sonny will see his kids, the last time he’ll see anyone he cares about. I’m not going to be all mushy-mushy about it. [Laughs] That’s not me. I’ll be a tough son of a bitch but, yeah, this could be it for him. I certainly want the audience to think that.

They could turn it into one of those GH spinoffs like Night ShiftSonny in Oz!
Steve Burton [Jason] came up with a cool idea—Sonny goes off to jail and finagles a big cell where he’s cooking his pasta sauce. People could come visit me. All the characters we’ve sent to jail could try to beat me up. It’d be great!”