Soap Opera Digest: Our Editors’ Choice in this issue is for the week that saw Sonny reunite with Stone, in a manner of speaking, when Stone helped give him the strength to keep fighting. What were those scenes like for you to shoot?
Maurice Benard: Well, the truth is that I personalize a lot of stuff, especially when it’s material that is important to me. My best friend was murdered about six years ago, so when Michael Sutton as Stone came into the scene, I just played that it was my friend so, you know? Whatever it was is whatever it was. But, yeah, that’s what that was [for me], so it’s tough.
Digest: Did you watch them?
Digest: How did you feel watching them?
Benard: It was a little difficult. That day, I had to do 32 scenes in five hours, and then I went to finish this movie that I did, and my scenes were with Mickey Rourke. It was a trip! I had to do that [material on GH] in the morning and then go there at night.
Digest: When you have a particularly intense day of work like that, do you feel the support on set from the crew and everything, like, to help you get through it?
Benard: The crew are truly my friends and I can consider the crew my family. I’ve been like that from day one, where they’ve been by me from the beginning, and now — I’m having a party in a couple of weeks, and they’re going. I invited a lot of crew there. I’m so close to the crew. I love the support. Sometimes what I do is I’ll go up to somebody in the crew that’s a friend of mine and I’ll say, “You know this scene right here? This is about this,” like I just told you about my friend, and they’ll go, “Wow.” It gives me [emotional support] to know that they know what is going on for me.
Digest: I would be remiss to not ask you — Steve [Burton, ex-Jason] and Billy Miller [Jason] and Maurice are all going to be in the same place very soon. What are your thoughts about Steve’s return?
Benard: Well, in a way, the more the merrier. Steve’s like — people want me to, like, say who I like more or whatever. I can’t answer that because Steve’s like a brother. I feel like an uncle to him. And Billy’s cool, I’m cool with Billy and we’re friends. It’s just [going] to be — it’s just going to add for better story.
Digest: How do you feel about the current storyline, where Sonny is trying to leave the mob? Is that something you’d be interested in playing, a Sonny who isn’t a mobster anymore?
Benard: Well, it’s not feasible unless you do it like a character study, and you do it for a long period of time and it’s great. It doesn’t work otherwise, because you know you’re just going to go right back into it. And the reality is, like, I’m doing these scenes now, and I like the way they’re writing it — Sonny’s point is, who would you rather have running Port Charles, a bad guy, or me? A worse guy, or me? [Someone from one of the other five families] who’s really bad, or me? That’s the way I have to justify it.
Digest: Can we talk about Kelly Monaco [Sam] for a second? Playing her hallucination while she’s been in the throes of illness, you’ve had a front-row seat to some pretty amazing performances.
Benard: You know, I don’t think I’ve ever seen her do better, and I’ve been talking almost too much about her, kissing her ass! Which I don’t mind because she’s been that good. But I know from acting with her and watching her, it’s fantastic.
Digest: You’ve been so great as her hallucination. It reminds me of, like,
the character you do on Snapchat sometimes.
Benard [laughs]: It kind of is! I kind of did it like that. You know, my early Snapchats — I was obsessed! I would do people [characters]. Before, I had, like, 20. Now I’ve got, like, three or four. But they’re still funny.
Digest: On air last week, Sam confessed to Carly that she shot Sonny, and there’s a little bit of a dust-up between Carly and Sonny because she’s not happy that he didn’t tell her the truth. Did that make sense to you that he would keep that secret from her?
Benard: Not really. I don’t think it’s that big a deal, right? I guess it was good for a story point to have the good scenes about why I didn’t tell her and stuff, but it didn’t make any sense to me. They didn’t hold it too long, but a little bit too long [laughs].
Digest: Carly does forgive him pretty quickly and that seems like it indicates growth in their relationship, in their ability to handle conflict.
Benard: Yeah, you know, I just did those scenes and they’re actually real good. It made sense to me and it worked.
Digest: And hey, certainly in the world of Port Charles, there’s something romantic about a guy trying to leave the mob to make his wife happy.
Benard: This guy’s stuck between a rock and a hard place, because if he leaves — which is the right thing to do, in a sense — people could end up dying even more. And if he doesn’t leave, he’s stuck because everybody’s like, “You’re the reason for this and that.” So, he kind of doesn’t know where to turn. It’s difficult. I’ve been doing this for too long, 25 years, and it’s hard to keep doing the same beat. I’ve got to be honest with you: About six, seven, eight months ago, I was going through a period like, like, “I don’t know, this is kind of — maybe it’s time [to leave].” But the last six months? I don’t know. The material is juicy. Even if it’s the same beat.
Digest: There was a little spice, something that gave you something new to dig into?
Benard: Yes. And the Kelly beat [with Sam’s toxoplasmosis] I thought was going to be ridiculous. When they told me that, “You’re going to be injured,” I was like, “Please don’t tell me any more. I don’t want to hear s–t.” And then as I got into it, it worked. It was cool.
Digest: How do you think Sam and Sonny’s relationship will be affected, moving forward, by her shooting him and leaving him for dead in a pit, however not in control of her actions she may have been?
Benard: Well, I love that. I’ve got to tell you, I think there’s really a good connection there between those two. When I see the scenes, I’m like, “Hmm, this could be something.” Not now that she’s got Billy and Steve, but I think they should stay on this kind of friendship that’s you know, nothing physical. I’m saying that they could get closer, and they’re not doing anything [inappropriate], and however that affects people around them … That could be interesting. w