December 24th, 2014  |  Leave a comment

The Maurice Benard Interview – General Hospital

Photo Credit: HutchinsPhoto.com

It’s Christmas time 2014, and as many of us get ready to spend time with our family, friends, and loved ones, or if you are just ready to catch some much needed r & r, in the fictional town of Port Charles this yuletide season, mobster Sonny Corinthos (Maurice Benard) finds himself behind bars surrounded by what seems to be an endless supply of enemies with an axe to grind, and chief among them: Franco (Roger Howarth) and Johnny Zacchara (Brandon)!  But let’s face it … Sonny wants to pay these bad dudes back, too!  Case in point: Sonny lowering the boom on Franco just the other day, and letting him know that he has not forgotten how he set up Michael (Chad Duell) to be raped in prison a few years back.  Sonny simply states about Franco’s jailed future: “Once you’ve been passed around like the bitch that you are, I’m gonna kill you!”

And as we watch Sonny trying to navigate his way in the big house, it gives viewers another opportunity to see the talents of Daytime Emmy winner Maurice Benard, who for 21 years on General Hospital has been bringing intense drama to his performances from storyline to storyline.  This year was a particular strong one in story for Maurice, and his soap opera alter-ego Sonny.  Now, as we head into 2015, viewers have learned that Sonny is the biological father of Ava’s (Maura West) baby, setting up a whole series of events yet to unfold.

On-Air On-Soaps had the opportunity this holiday season to chat with Maurice, and to look back on Sonny Corinthos’ rollercoaster ride through 2014 consisting of: murder, romances, an affair, crypt sex, betrayals, a mob war for the territory, and that was just for starters!  While Sonny had quite the rough going, it was a banner year for Maurice, who also starred in a the feature film The Ghost and the Whale, and delivered riveting work on the ABC soap opera, which made the audience continue to have a reaction, positive or negative, to Sonny’s misdeeds.  So, let’s chat about it all with the man himself!

MICHAEL:

It’s been an incredible year in the tumultuous life of Sonny Corinthos! There was plenty of story to go around including: Sonny killing AJ Quartermaine, becoming the baby daddy to the child of the woman (Ava played by Maura West) who killed his beloved Connie. (And, let’s not forget the shocking way the baby was conceived during their “crypt sex” tryst), his romance with Olivia (Lisa LoCicero) and rekindling his feelings for Carly (Laura Wright), losing his son Michael (Chad Duell) from his life over Sonny’s betrayal, and finally landing in the slammer where he is trying to survive with some familiar and vengeful prison mates!  So, what did you think about your year as Sonny on GH?

MAURICE:

Courtesy/ABC

I was into this year on the show a lot, and the prison stuff I have never done.  There was just a different side of Sonny at times.  I am even trying to throw some humor in now.   I don’t think the audience has seen that yet, and I am having a pretty good time.

MICHAEL:

What did you think of the showdown scenes between Sonny and Michael, where Michael held Sonny at gunpoint?  What did you think of Chad Duell’s (Michael) performance?  How does Sonny feel at this point now that Michael has denounced him from his life?

MAURICE:

I thought Chad stepped up and did great, and I thought the scenes were interesting for something that has been kind of done, you know, the gun (laughs).  I think more so, it just looked cool, and I thought the production was really good, and I thought the payoff was really good.  Sonny will take it all from Michael, and it’s 100% deserved.  Sonny does not care what Michael does, he loves him, even with his decision to change his last name to “Quartermaine”.   I always joke with Chad and call him, “Chad Quartermaine” (Laughs).

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/ABC

Will Sonny try to get Michael back as his son?  Or, do you think he believes he has to let Michael go and that the relationship is beyond repair?

MAURICE:

He will do whatever he can to get Michael back, and you can say whatever you want about Sonny, but where his family is concerned, he’ll die for that.

MICHAEL:

The Sonny haters have wanted to see Sonny pay for his crimes for so long, and be sent to jail!  The fact that he has gotten away with so much and never been locked up for too long has made some fans upset over the years, because many times his actions seem to go unpunished.  But this time he is definitely in the slammer!

MAURICE:

The Sonny haters are probably celebrating, and this is fine, but I got a lot of people who feel different.  I like the prison scenes, and in particular, the recent scenes with Laura Wright (Carly).  That whole show with her I could bring a lot of where Sonny was at, and the pain he was feeling to the table.  You don’t get a lot of those days, and you hope to hit a home run when you do.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/ABC

How has it been working with Laura Wright, as Carly, in a romantic story?  This is really the first time, as Laura had pointed out to me. that the two of you have really gotten to play the coming together of this seemingly star-crossed couple, who always come back to each other for a night of sex, or over grief, but then go back, or get involved with other people.  This time it has been different.

MAURICE:

Laura is fantastic, and nothing surprises me, and Sonny already pursued her when Carly was going to marry Jax (Ingo Rademacher).  So, I knew it was going to work.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, one thing I have come to realize with the soaps: the fans just die for the history.  You can almost do no wrong when you have a lot of history, and it’s important to the fans!

MICHAEL:

The 51st anniversary episode last spring provided one of the most talked about moments of the year when you got to act with 3 Carlys in one episode: Sarah Brown, Tamara Braun, and Laura Wright.  How was that for you to film? 

MAURICE:

Courtesy/Twitter

That was a great day for me, because how many times do you get to work with three talented actresses? And there again, we have a lot of history, and each has a different energy.

MICHAEL:

It seems that Sonny’s heart is truly with Carly right now!  However, he has been with a lot of women this year! (Laughs)

MAURICE:

Yeah, but doesn’t he always? (Laughs)  But that is how Sonny has kind of been.  Now I know some people in the viewing audience have a problem with that, but I don’t mind it, because that is the way these kinds of guys are that are into that kind of business. They have a lot of affairs, and they have a lot of kids, so that hasn’t always been a problem for me.  But, I don’t want anymore … (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Just wait! (Laughs)  Every year I meet up with you we are always discussing the latest girlfriend of Sonny’s! (Laughs) Let’s talk about one of the watercooler moments of the soap year: the “crypt sex” scene.  What was your reaction when they told you about it?  The scenes themselves gave you and Maura West (Ava) material that allowed the audience to witness two tour-de-force performances, whether they agreed with the premise or not!

MAURICE:

Courtesy/ABC

What’s funny is; when I first read the script I went, “I don’t know if this is going to work. This is kind of pushing the envelope.”  However, every time I thought that Ron Carlivati (head writer, GH) and Frank Valentini (executive producer, GH) came to make me believe I was wrong.  It’s funny when I first did the scenes, I didn’t think much of it. When I first watched it, maybe I was in denial.  Then, when I just watched it again for what to submit for Emmy contention, I watched the scenes and went “damn!” this is really working, and it felt really good.

MICHAEL:

So for your Daytime Emmy Pre-Nomination reel, did you go with a scene from the “crypt sex” episode?

MAURICE:

Here’s the deal: I swore I wasn’t going to even put anything in, and then I saw that “crypt sex” show.  I think someone showed me that episode.  I thought it was pretty cool, so I did submit it.

MICHAEL:

As a previous Daytime Emmy winner, and as an actor who is so accomplished in this genre, and knowing you are critical of your work, as most actors are, can you look at material you have done and be proud of your work, especially when deciding what to enter the Emmy race with?

MAURICE:

Courtesy/ABC

For me, you have to understand, I have to pick something that is at least a bit different. Because with me, the people that are judging will go, “Oh, we’ve seen that before,” or “We’ve seen him do this a thousand times … we know what he does.”  So, it either has to be deeper, or lighter, or something that I think is different … and, preferably not with a gun in it.

MICHAEL:

One of the most twisted relationships on GH is that of Sonny and Ava.  What has it been like for you working with Maura West (Ava), and now how these two enemies are now bonded together because of their baby girl?

MAURICE:

In the beginning of working with somebody I can be a bit too intense, because to be honest with you, maybe I get a little scared, because I want it to be great, or I am concerned if this is going to work.  So at the beginning of working with Maura, I don’t think I was the most pleasant to her, let’s put it that way.  And that day of the “crypt sex” I was way intense!   Now with Maura, she is like a sister.  I remember her also being very intense.  It was kind of a dirty scene.  I am not even talking about the sex part.  I am talking that the whole show was dirty.  It was dark, she was dark, I was dark, the whole set up was kind of ugly, but somehow I kind of dug it!

MICHAEL:

Since Sonny is the baby daddy to Ava’s baby, or we think he is at this point, even if Sonny and Ava both get out of prison, she is going to get a pass now, right?  He would never kill the mother of his child?

MAURICE:

Courtesy/ABC

No.  Sonny won’t kill the mother of his child.  He will do stuff, but he won’t do that!  Look, of course, I said to the producers and writers, “Another kid?”  But again, these guys, (Frank and Ron) to be honest, have not done me wrong.  So, I guess another child in Sonny’s life is the way it should be.

MICHAEL:

In the past, I have seen you play Sonny claustrophobic in prison?  This time he seems to be doing quite well!

MAURICE:

What I did with the material is that Sonny is only claustrophobic when he is alone in his jail cell.  I am claustrophobic in real life.  However, once Sonny gets out of the cell, he is fine, and he doesn’t have the claustrophobia.

MICHAEL:

You must be having a blast with the prison material: You get to pump iron, get bullied, and who should be in prison with him … Brandon Barash (Johnny) … who is back to make Sonny’s life hell on wheels!

MAURICE:

Courtesy/ABC

Yeah, I am getting my ass kicked. (Laughs)  I am having fun with Brandon, and also because of the way they film it.  Sonny would like to just kill Johnny, that’s for sure!

MICHAEL:

What do you think about the way Sonny’s brother Ric Lansing (Rick Hearst) is being leveraged in the story?  That it seems Sonny wants to save his brother.  Does Sonny care about Ric?

MAURICE:

Well, I had a little problem with Sonny having to care so much about Ric.  I guess there is something in the writing were he says, he doesn’t want another death on his head.  I guess I latched on to that.  When Johnny first mentioned him to Sonny, my response would have been, “Just go ahead and kill him!” (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

With Ric being alive, do you think the brothers will come together and fight their mutual enemies?

MAURICE;

Courtesy/ABC

Rick Hearst is such a talented actor, that I always love getting into the ring with him.  It would be nice and different that Sonny would not hate him. That would be a different twist than doing the same old stuff again.

MICHAEL:

Does Sonny think he is going to get out of prison, or does he think he is there for the long haul?

MAURICE:

I play he wants to get the hell out, like in the scene on the phone with Carly where he tells her to never come back … I personalized it.  I played that it was my wife Paula in front of me, and I was at a mental hospital, and I was telling her never to come back.  It was very powerful to play. All Sonny wants to do is not be in there.

MICHAEL:

You were recently seen on Oprah: Where Are They Now? where you talked about your bipolar disorder.  This year, we also saw the release of your movie The Ghost and The Whale, which centers on a man who battles this.  What do you hope comes from sharing your story and shedding light on the subject?

MAURICE:

Photo Credit: Getty Images

I work with certain young people who have issues.  I think that is kind of my calling.  I will continue to do what needs to be done on talk shows or Oprah, or whatever, I will continue to speak.  I know somebody who lost a son to bipolar and every time I hear about that I always feel if I had one shot, I am not saying I could save a person, but you never know.  If I could do anything to prevent that from happening, I would never stop talking about bipolar disorder.  If I could do something different, maybe not a movie, but something where I could play a part where someone can see what it is like, and maybe say to themselves: “Oh, I should take my pills,” and that is important, that would be very gratifying for me.

MICHAEL:

You have had so many emotional scenes, and especially this year on GH.  Do you ever say to yourself, “No more. I can’t do this” because of how going to these consistently dark places in story might effect you?

MAURICE:

When I do these scenes, sometimes I just want to quit and not do this anymore.  I say to myself, especially after filming scenes in The Ghost and the Whale, and after really tough scenes as Sonny on GH, “What am I doing? I can’t do this. It’s too painful!”  But, you have got to move on.  Then my mom says, “Do it half way.”  And I say, “I don’t know how to do it half way.  That doesn’t feel right, either.”   It’s a catch-22.  But again, there is a therapeutic aspect to it.  If I am not allowed to yell at home, or anywhere I go where I might get upset, at least I can yell when I am acting.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/ABC

I know you were in contract talks recently with the series, but you have been on GH for 21 years now.  Does it feel like 21 years have gone by?

MAURICE:

Yes, and it feels like 25 years. (Laughs)  I have done pretty much everything three times over.  However, I have been working on some scenes with Roger Howarth (Franco) and he is always adding humor, and I wanted to match him.  I want to work on my humor and I think I have been doing that, and I think you will see in the next couple of weeks on-air some scenes with Roger and with William deVry (Julian) where I am trying to do that.

MICHAEL:

Speaking about your status with GH …  are you planning on staying with the show?  We’re not going to lose you in like three months or something?

MAURICE:

I will be there.  I’m not, not staying! (Laughs)  And no, you’re not going to lose me in three months.  (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Do you like playing the romantic side of Sonny … the romancing of a woman?

MAURICE:

Courtesy/ABC

Yes! I like the romantic scenes, and the intense scenes, which is kind of what I do.  I like doing it all. You have to understand, I have a character that you really can’t take out of the box.  It’s not like Tony Geary (Luke) where he can veer off and play this other stuff.   I have to kind of stick to this one-way thing, but I am trying within the one-way to do it differently.

MICHAEL:

How do you feel about the use of guns when Sonny possesses one in a scene?

MAURICE:

I don’t like it.  I am so sick of guns, because I think when you have a gun all the time then there is no threat.  If I say, “I’m going to kill you” and I don’t, then it becomes a non-threat, and that’s all.

MICHAEL:

Lisa LoCicero (Olivia) played another love interest in 2014 for Sonny.  What did you think about working with Lisa, and how the show decided to end their relationship?

MAURICE:

Photo Credit: HutchinsPhoto.com

Well, Lisa would have been the person who would have taught me about being funny.  I loved that element of that relationship between Sonny and Olivia.  As far as what happened to the relationship, a lot of times it has to be written and I don’t think they went far enough with it.  Lisa knows I love her, but they kind of ended it abruptly.

MICHAEL:

We’ve also got the overriding story of the mob clans: The Jeromes vs. The Corinthos, or, as I call it, “Sonny and the next crime family that moves into town”.  What do you think about working with William deVry (Julian)?

MAURICE:

I have been working with William, and we have been doing these scenes, and I have been finding a way to make those scenes fun, at least that’s what the producers and the director’s told me.  I kind of want in to be like Midnight Run!  I latched on to this feeling about that with him.  Now I have not watched it, but I have to see it, and see if it’s working, or not.  I hope you will at least smile, because I was messing with him a lot! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: HutchinsPhoto.com

You like to throw your scene partners for a loop? (Laughs)

MAURICE:

To make myself not look bored, I mess with people all the time in scenes!  I look at them different.  I am saying one thing, but am doing another. You will see with William that I do it!

MICHAEL:

Can I just say, I loved your “Bust-a-Move” clip with you showing off your dancing prowess along with your on-screen sons, Chad Duell and Bryan Craig!  Who knew you got those moves!  Would you showcase it on GH … maybe at next year’s Nurses Ball? (Laughs)

MAURICE:

I don’t know about on GH, but in High School I won a dance contest and I used to dance all the time.  You got to see just a few of the moves in that short video, but I think we should do another video to another song, and post these once a month with Chad (Michael) and Bryan Craig (Morgan).

Courtesy/ABC

MICHAEL:

I would be down for that! And finally, as it’s the holidays, what would you like to say to all of your fans, and those of GH, for their support over the years?

MAURICE:

I want to say to the fans that for 21 years they have been so supportive, and that they have been so incredible, and they follow Sonny through thick and thin.  And as for the Sonny haters … I love them too!

 

  1. Elle says:

    Terrific interview, Michael! I laughed out loud at the “Another Kid?” part. Well the kid is at least guaranteed screen time especially when it’s a child of Sonny’s. I’ve always been ambivalent about Sonny due to the violence/mob story lines but I’m a big fan of Maurice. Loved that he’s honest with his answers in this interview and doesn’t sugarcoat anything. I feel most of the time, actors give politically correct answers because they don’t want to offend their fan base or other actors they work with……. Happy Holidays, Michael!

    Reply

  2. Margie-rose Dalton says:

    Hi, just me again thank you so very much for your interview with my Sonny. Love Maurice hooked since Nico Kelly & his movies. Great awesome love your answers Maurice. Please please be our guy on #GH forever! ! Gotta get you out of prison. Have to admit was worried with Johnny & Franco fun times. OK cried when they beat you. Boxing you definitely would win. God bless you. Gracia’ Sorry Merry Christmas.

    Reply

    dmr replied

    I loved, loved, loved Nico Kelly on AMC! I was so excited when Maurice landed GH! I have and will always love Sonny with Brenda.

    Reply

    shalon replied

    Sonny and Brenda forever!

    sarah replied

    I agree I have always loved sonny and brenda together

  3. monica mailman says:

    I love the brooding Sonny, but its dark. The sun comes out when he smiles. So I am looking forward to more humour from Sonny.

    Reply

  4. Sarah says:

    I loved everything that Sonny went through this year!!! I’m sure I’m in the minority but I liked when Sonny hooked up w Ava, the confrontations w Morgan n Michael were fantastic n I’m glad Sonny n Carly are somewhat a couple again!!! I hope there will be many more moments in 2015!!! Also I want more vids of Maurice, Chad n Bryan dancing!!!

    Reply

  5. Linda Berthiaume says:

    Loved the interview. I loved what he said about Carly and working with Laura, Sarah and Tamara. I hope Sonny and Carly reunite soon. Miss them on my screen but Mo is rocking this prison SL.

    Reply

  6. janet says:

    I am bored with this BS. So bored I loved it when Johnny beat Scummy up..now watching this show is over. I have no interest in watching FrankenRon washing , rinsing and repeating all the old stories. So Sonny is in jail ,who cares .I wanted him in a grave for all his actions. No thanks. FrankenRon can watch the show themselves.sainted Sonny will now do to Franco the exact same thing he hates him for Rape. he hates Ric for the panic room and he tried to do the same to Ava. he wants revenge, why exactly he wanted Revenge on AJ escapes me .What he did was to get his son back from the scum that stole him. Now will TIIC bring back the unholy three? Jason returns.no thanks. been there done that.

    Reply

    Marie replied

    Hey Janet since you expressed you great dislikes for almost every character maybe you should go another soap there are a few more left. Oh by the way miss “bored with the BS” Sonny wanted revenge on AJ because he thought AJ had killed Connie just figured I update you. At the end of day you are entitled to your opinion.
    Here’s a New Years Resolution for you “get over yourself” you’ll be less miserable, you will certainly sound less miserable.

    Reply

    CeeCee replied

    I don’t think that’s fair, Marie. Janet is expressing her opinion. I most definitely agree with her. Why root for a murdering mobster? Marie does not strike me as miserable. Why should we not watch? Because we do not agree with some storylines, and because you say so? That’s not nice. I’m sorry you feel that way, but I took it personally because I share Marie’s exact feelings.
    I understand how she feels. We are just tired of the same old, same old. “Scummy” is the perfect moniker….Sonny is a snake in the grass who stabs his own children in the back. I personally really like Maurice, but not Sonny. I am able to separate the two. Can you?
    I think you were very rude to Marie. This site is here for us to express our opinions. Perhaps if you put the notion in perspective, you will understand the concept…peace.

  7. Marie says:

    I loved this interview with Maurice aka Sonny he seems so down to earth, kind and easy to talk too. He is the guy you love to hate and one hell of an actor not to mention hot with those deep dark eyes that look right through you he oozes sex appeal WOW!!!. The story lines are great this season it keeps me on edge, especially the stories for Sonny. I would like to see you do interviews with William deVry, and Jason Thompson.

    Reply

  8. sarah says:

    I loved your interview with Maurice as I am a 100 percent a sonny fan

    Reply

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