Maurice Benard AOL Chat

OnlineHost: Welcome to the ABC Auditorium. Today we're joined by Maurice Benard, who portrays Sonny Corinthos on GENERAL HOSPITAL. Complex, confident and wise, Sonny has taken his experience as anunderworld figure and applied it to professional, and personal, matters as a high-profile citizen of Port Charles.

OnlineHost: Benard's multi-cultural upbringing began in San Francisco where he was born to parents from Nicaragua and San Salvador. His dark good looks and intense gaze brought him modeling jobs in his early 20's. Following that, he began acting in numerous productions in the Bay area. This past February, Maurice received the Outstanding Lead Actor trophy at the Soap Opera Awards ceremony.

OnlineHost: After auditioning for a role on ALL MY CHILDREN, Maurice was cast as Nico Kelly. After two years on AMC, Maurice moved to Los Angeles in 1988 where he was soon cast to star in the much-publicized TV movie "Lucy & Desi: Before The Laughter." He later had a pivotal role in the feature film "Ruby," among several other prominent film and television credits.

ABCStar: Hi folks. This is ABCJoanne and I'm sitting here with the fabulous Maurice Benard, General Hospital's Sonny Corinthos. Here comes our first question for Maurice.

Question: who is your favorite person on the show?

ABCStar: I like them all! They're all great and I get along with everybody. There are no bad vibes anywhere.

Question: Hi Maurice, I am a huge fan! I just wanted to know if because your portrayal of Sonny is so realistic, do you feel that you may be stereotyped into always playing the tough, "mobster" character? And what other type of role would you like to play? DINA

ABCStar: I hope that I would be typecast because it's what I do best. I would like to play a Sonny type role in a film. That would be great.

Question: So, when is Sonny gonna get back with Brenda?

ABCStar: LOL. I get asked that a lot. I'm still trying to find out what the answer to that is from the writers!

Question: Congratulations on your SOD award!!! Which GH scenes are you most proud of?

ABCStar: Thanks. The one I'm most proud of is the scene where Sonny breaks down when he tells Stone that he loves him like a brother.

Question: Congratulations on your Leading Actor Award! You did a superb job with Michael Sutton & Kimberly McCullogh during the AIDS storyline. What do you feel you gained the most from this storyline, both professionally and personally?

ABCStar: Professionally to live out that role for a whole year was enormous for me as an actor. And personally, I learned a lot about AIDS. I can't imagine going through in real life what I went through on the show.

Question: Do you still keep in touch with Michael Sutton?

ABCStar: Michael just called me and I have to call him back.

Question: It is very admirable that you came forward as being a manic depressive. How are you doing?

ABCStar: I talked about that in Soap Opera Weekly. I'm glad that the article was done the way it was done. It was not done in an exploitive way. And, I'm still taking Lithium and am doing fine. Thanks for asking.

ABCStar: Many people have asked, "It must have been emotionally draining doing Stone's last scenes. What was it like for you to take your character in such a different direction? How did you prepare?

ABCStar: I didn't take it home with me. I just lived with it for a year at the show. Doing those kinds of scenes are like going to funeral every day. They're that emotional.

Question: Is it possible for Sonny to ever have a normal relationship with Mike?

ABCStar: I would hope so. I would hope that it comes soon.

Question: Who do you like hanging around the set with?

ABCStar: I hang out with Ron Hale (Mike), Jonathan Jackson (Lucky), and Steve Burton (Jason).

Question: What do you think of your character, Sonny?

ABCStar: When I look at the character of Sonny, I see someone who is very dysfunctional and dishonest. However, if he got help, he could be redeemed because he is very loyal and has had to deal with so much pain in his life.

Question: where in SF did you grow up?

ABCStar: For eight years I live right in San Francisco. Then I moved to the suburb of Martinez.

Question: how do u enjoy working with Brenda and Lily?

ABCStar: I think it's fun! They're both different, with different energy.

Question: Do you keep in touch with any actors from AMC?

ABCStar: The only one I keep in touch with is Michael E. Knight (Tad Martin.)

Question: Do you see yourself still acting 10 years from now or maybe directing?

ABCStar: I see myself acting for the rest of my life. I don't see myself directing.

Question: Maurice, how do you like LA compared to the bay area.? (I'm from the bay area too) Do you go home often?

ABCStar: I go home twice a year and I like LA and SF equally.

Question: I read that you thought the "Desi Arnaz" role was your most embarrassing to date. Why?

ABCStar: It was a good job of impersonating but I don't think that there was a lot of depth. At that point, I don't think that I was a strong enough actor.

Question: What was it like receiving the award for best actor at the soap opera awards

ABCStar: I was ready to faint on the stage. It was very emotional for me.

Question: do you miss the character of Stone?

ABCStar: Yes, tremendously. I also miss the actor. His dressing room was near mine and every time I go by, I miss him.

Question: what day next weekend are you going to be @ the car show in PA?

ABCStar: I'll be there on March 16 and 17th.

Question: Do you like being a father?

ABCStar: It's the greatest joy of my life. Paula (Maurice's wife) says that she can't come up enough words to describe how wonderful it is.

Question: Hi Maurice! I loved the AIDS storyline. How did you react when you were told about it?

ABCStar: I was all for it--if it was done right-- because I have had people close to me die of AIDS

Question: Do you miss being in New York at all?

ABCStar: Not really.

Question: What is the difference in playing Nico compared to Sonny? Which do you like the best to play?

ABCStar: Nico was fine. It was my first job and it was a great opportunity. He was nothing like Sonny. Sonny is so unpredictable--you never know what he might do.

Question: I enjoyed watching Sonny scare Lily's principal last week. Do you prefer drama or comedy?

ABCStar: Drama. For me, it's easier to go for the pain.

Question: do you watch GH? what do you think of it and yourself?

ABCStar: I watched a lot last year. Lately, I haven't been watching. I think the show has been wonderful over the last two years. Personally, I think that there are some things that I need to work on. That's why the show is so great--it allows me to do that.

Question: What would be your best advice to individuals interested in entering the entertainment business?

ABCStar: Get a good therapist!

Question: Do you like doing personal appearance? What has been your favorite fan encounter?

ABCStar: I like doing personal appearances. Nothing drastic has happened. I did one with Brad Maule (Tony Jones) and it was a lot of fun.

Question: I've noticed that you seem to be universally revered on your show as an extremely nice person. Do you feel that that has always been the case or have you changed dramatically from your youth?

ABCStar: You work on yourself and, hopefully, you always become a nicer person. I think that in my earlier years, I was a bit of a rebel.

Question: Hi Maurice, You're doing a great you like acting with Jax? Do you suppose he and Sonny could be friends ever?

ABCStar: The actor who plays Jax (Ingo Rademacher) is a nice guy. I think that it would be boring if they became friends.

Question: Do you prefer the current storyline w/Sonny and Brenda apart and all the conflict, or would you like to see them get back together?

ABCStar: I like the conflict but when the conflict goes on too long, it gets a little monotonous.

Question: Was Sonny's breakup scene with Brenda hard to act out?

ABCStar: Yes--it was hard because it got very tense because you, as the character, need to get into the emotions of it.

Question: Are you like your character on the show at all???

ABCStar: Somewhat. Sonny is more intense and not as goofy as I am. And, I'm not a liar.

Question: Mr Bernard, how many more layers of Sonny have we to see?

ABCStar: I hope that we can see at least a couple more. That's up to the writers, though.

Question: Sonny's life is more obvious now, did you enjoy the role better when he had two lives?

ABCStar: Yes--I did enjoy hiding everything more. But stay tuned for some stuff that's coming up.

Question: are you married?

ABCStar: Yes, I'm happily married for six years (we've been together for 11) to a wonderful woman named Paula and we have a beautiful daughter named Cailey who is a year and a half.

Question: will we see more with you and Tony Geary, you two have great chemistry

ABCStar: Who knows. That's something that Tony and I talk about. But it's up to the writers.

Question: Who else on GH could you see yourself involved with?

ABCStar: That's a good question. I've always thought Lois. And Laura.

Question: how do you feel about the many hours you have to put in?

ABCStar: GH is the greatest job in the world. The hours are worth it.

ABCStar: Thanks so much for having me here. I had a great time. I look forward to seeing all of you again--online. You sent so many questions that I'm sorry I couldn't answer them all. See you again!

OnlineHost: Thank you for joining us today. Don't forget to watch Maurice on GENERAL HOSPITAL every Monday through Friday at 3:00 PM, ET, on the ABC Television network.