By Joanne Gallo
Soap Opera Weekly April 9, 2002
I don’t have to talk about Sonny, do I?” laughs Ron Hale, better known as the big boss’s deadbeat dad, Mike Corbin, on General Hospital. “It’s always all about Sonny.”
No, this is all about Mike. Well, all right, maybe it’s a little bit about Sonny . . . But no matter, Hale is eager for the opportunity to sound off about his misunderstood character and the damage he did to Sonny---as well as the other family Mike hid from him, Courtney and Janine.
“Mike is what Mike is,” sighs Hale. “He’s worked very hard to fight the gambling thing. That’s been his Achilles’ heel since day one, obviously. It’s an addiction that stopped him from being a good father. It stopped him from developing more as a human being.”
The veteran actor knows the ins and outs of inhabiting a shifty character, having made his mark as Roger Coleridge on Ryan’s Hope from 1975-‘89. But he says this shifty character really does want to make amends. “To find the son you abandoned as a child, knowing that that kid hates your guts, is a very tough thing to do,” he asserts. “Mike’s always been the guy that walks away from conflict or cons his way out of it. He’s never wanted to face reality. The fact that he faced reality, came here and said, ‘I’m going to give it a shot,’ that’s a gusty thing.”
But, it has not been an easy process. “He’s had a couple of setbacks,” Hale admits. “Mike would screw up somehow and Sonny would say, ‘Get out of my life’ and Mike would try to fight to get back in. You know, if everything were hunky-dory then they’d probably say ‘Goodbye, Ron. We don’t need you anymore.’”
Considering Sonny’s stubborn nature, Hale’s got nothing to worry about. “Sonny’s gotta make the change. He’s got pretty deep-seated problems. Maurice (Benard, Sonny) will tell you. He knows that better than anybody,” says Hale. “Sonny’s got to start learning how to forgive. Not forget, per se, but he doesn’t trust anyone. I think that, hopefully, the whole arc of this story with Courtney is going to take Sonny to a different place.”
Even if Sonny won’t forgive him, Mike can take comfort in having one friend in town: Carly. “I love working with Tamara (Braun, Carly), and we’ve had some wonderful scenes,” says Hale. “We went through a period which was very enlightening for her character. Up until then what the audience saw was a whiny Carly with Sonny, blah, blah, blah. Then, it was such a counterpoint to what the audience had been seeing, the ability of Carly to relax with Mike, so they saw the softer side. All of a sudden, I’m walking in here in the morning and I’ve got hundreds of letters that I normally don’t get, but they were all the same. ‘We love seeing Mike and Carly be able to communicate instead of being in their defensive mode when they’re around Sonny.’ We both mentioned this a number of times to the powers-that–be: ‘Gee, let’s not forget this relationship.’”
Hale notes that Mike has always shared a special bond with Sonny’s women. “Mike had a wonderful relationship with Lily (Lilly Melgar), which took awhile, and his relationship with Brenda (Vanessa Marcil) was wonderful. Mike loves his son so much and sees this wall of defense that Sonny has put up around himself. So any woman who falls in love with his son, Mike automatically falls in love with, because he’s hoping this is the one to make Sonny laugh and be a full man.”
Unfortunately, Mike’s own love life is less fulfilling. “There’s Janine in Mike’s face, lousy father, this and that. Courtney was 8 years old when Janine took her and ran off. Mike didn’t leave,” he points out. “So you’re telling me that for eight years life was horrible with Mike? Please. Who’s she trying to convince? If it was that bad she would’ve had the kid and split then. All of a sudden, she’s like this angel lady who came to Port Charles to do what? Blackmail half the town. Yeah, she’s an angel.” So don’t bet on a reunion. “I’d never give her the pleasure. She’s outta there,” he says with a laugh.
Besides, Mike’s main priority is to patch things up with his kids. “I have one more shot with Courtney, and maybe I can make up for being a lousy dad,” Hale says, doing Mike’s bidding.
And perhaps Sonny will come around too. “It’s like the gambling thing. He sees that hope that he might win the next hand, meaning the next time maybe Sonny’s gonna say, ‘OK, Dad, I love you.’ And that’s what has kept him going.”