Deep Soap: ‘General Hospital’s Maurice Benard Heartened by Show’s New Direction

Maurice Benard as Sonny Corinthos on "General Hospital." (ABC)

Maurice Benard, who plays teflon mobster Sonny Corinthos, has been the Alpha Dog on “General Hospital” since the 1990s. Sonny evolved from a likeable villain with a heart to a less than sympathetic “hero” who committed felonies on a regular basis.  The show’s new regime has began the task of making Sonny three dimensional again. Benard could not be happier. He revealed why he thinks Sonny and his fiancee Kate will go the distance, whether he’d be willing to have his character walk away from the mob and why he loves the show’s new direction.

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Sonny’s vulnerabilities have been showcased more than they have in a long time. What do you think of his evolution over the past few months?
It’s the first time that you’ve seen him support the one he loves for a long time, not just for a week. So it’s nice to see that and he’s trying to actually think a little more before he reacts to things as far as killing somebody, or whatever. He’s more balanced now. I love it.

Is there a part of you that wants to see Sonny step away from the mob?
Well, if they wrote it to when he got out of the mob, he took a character study and he had to deal with not having power, I’d love that. With just Kate by his side trying to help him, and her having power and him having no power, that would be an interesting character study. I think they could do it the way [headwriter] Ron [Carlivati] writes with sensitivity. It would be fun to play.

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Do you think he and Kate will be together for a long time? Will they make it down the aisle this time?
The whole Connie thing, that was make or break whether we were going to survive. It has to do more with the actress, whether [Kelly Sullivan] would kick butt. And she kicked butt and now we’ll keep going. But it could have been [all over.]

What’s coming down the pike with Sonny and Joe Junior?
Well, I filmed some stuff today, because I don’t want him coming after Kate or my family. It’s kind of a cool scene we did today. We’re going to have a lot more because they love [actor Richard Steinmetz] and I love him and we’ll see what happens.

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Are we going to see more of Sonny and John interacting?
Yeah. A lot of it has to do with Joe Junior and it’s cool.

What about Sonny and Todd? Now that their children are dating each other it seems like they would cross paths more.
I haven’t done much with him because [Sonny] and Kate are doing stuff, but I’ll probably get in his face, too.

Were you worried, with a new writer, that Sonny would actually turn out to be Teresa’s killer and he would become irredeemable?
It was scary. You never know what’s going on, But once [executive producer Frank [Valentini] proved himself, that he could back up what he’s doing, everybody’s on board. It’s like having a new coach come in and at the beginning you’re like, “Umm, this guy, I don’t know.” And then you’re like, “Whoa, we’re going to the Super Bowl with this guy.”

Is Trey really Kate’s long lost son, or is that a red herring?
That I thought I knew, but I actually don’t know. But we’ll see. It seems like it, but I don’t want to get in trouble by assuming something.

I am surprised by the show a lot more often than I used to be.
They like to write that way. You never know what to expect and that’s the way that it should be. That way you never know what’s coming down the pike.

That’s a big shift. The show’s promos used to tell you both exactly what would happen, and what day it would air.
Now every day it’s a different thing.

It seems like ABC has reinvested in the show.
I was just talking to [executives] and everybody’s one hundred percent behind us.

Casting News

Days of Our Lives” has confirmed that former “General Hospital” star Greg Vaughn will be playing the role of Eric Brady that was originated by “Supernatural” star Jensen Ackles. The show initially chose to keep the identity of the character he would be playing under wraps , but fans suspected it was Sami’s twin from day one.

“The Yong & the Restless” is recasting the role of Noah currently played by Kevin Schmidt. The actor has come and gone several times. It appears that new executive producer Jill Farren Phelps intends to make the currently back-burnered character of Noah more prominent. Scmidt broke the news via Twitter writing, “How many time you gonna try and bring in a “New Noah”? There’s only one! Sorry to those who watch for me. #Peace”

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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