Sonny's Death Wish

Sonny’s latest misadventure with a firearm and a family member on GENERAL HOSPITAL has got to leave him shaking his head. When it came to making peace with Sonny’s shooting his own son, portrayer Maurice Benard appealed to a higher power — wife Paula.Soap Opera Weekly: How do you deal with the backlash regarding Sonny deliberately shooting an unarmed police officer?

Maurice Benard: Here’s the bottom line. My wife had to help me out in this situation. He shot a cop. First of all, it’s wrong. I had a little bit of a problem with it. But my wife said, “Honey, he’s always been a vigilante. He kills bad people.” He’s a vigilante, like Charles Bronson in Death Wish, where he kills bad people. This is the only time when Sonny’s crossed the line. He shot a good cop, not a bad cop. But to him, [Dante] was a rat. He didn’t know [Dante is his son]. If he knew it was his son, he would not have shot him. Even people who don’t like Sonny could agree to that.

Weekly: So you agree Sonny went too far?

Benard: This is the first time [GH] has done something with him where it’s crossing the line. Here’s what I say: If it’s done great and succeeds — which it has — you’re great. If not, you’re in big trouble. If it hadn’t been done as well as it’s been done, then yeah, the backlash could have been on me. I believe you need to keep pushing this envelope. It’s the only thing that keeps these viewers. With the way the medium is going, you have to do great story after great story after great story. That’s what keeps the fans.

Weekly: Even if the stories push Sonny over the line?

Benard: No matter how you look at it, it was wrong. But my job is to show why he did what he did, and how he feels inside about what he did. If I can’t do that, then I’m not doing my job. I can tell you right now, especially with the Kristina story, you’re [getting] a real sense of how he feels, and that’s what matters.

Weekly: Might something like shooting his own son make Sonny consider another line of work?

Benard: After all this, you have to change a bit, [but] we can’t take him out of the mafia, can we? I don’t think getting out of the mob is what [fans] want. But something has to change in him after all this. I’m not saying it will, but I believe something has to change.