Maurice Benard is known best for playing Sonny Corinthos on the ABC soap opera “General Hospital”. He also appears in the new documentary “OC87″ about bipolar disorder. Maurice took out time to chat with Media Mikes about the film, dealing with the disorder day-to-day and, of course, working on “General Hospital”.
Mike Gencarelli: Can you tell us how you became involved with the film “OC87”?
Maurice Benard: I am bi-polar so I have done a lot of work for the cause as it is personal. Bud Clayman did some stuff on “General Hospital” and it was phenomenal. We just clicked right away. We went to a boxing gym and did some stuff that was great.
MG: You have said before that boxing is your release. Can you tell us about that?
MB: I think anytime you exercise it helps you. With boxing I can punch so it eliminates the rage. I have been boxing for 11 years now.
MG: How do you feel this film will inform people about the disorder?
MB: The bottom line is that this disorder is a very tough one to have. However you can still lead a productive life. I have been on “General Hospital” for 20 years and it’s been that long since I have had a manic episode or a breakdown. As long as you stay on yourmedication and you get help you can lead a great life.
MG: What do you think has been the hardest part of opening up about being bi-polar?
MB: I got a letter about 12 years ago from a kid whose brother was bi-polar and committed suicide. What got him through that was by reading something that I had written. Now it is not hard for me to talk about. There was one time though when we did a story line on “General Hospital” where my character Sonny has a breakdown. It kind of dragged on for a long time and towards the end it was starting to get difficult for me. I have done a number of shows where I talk about the disorder. You get nervous but I think this is my calling.
MG: Do you find playing a bi-polar character makes it easier for you to perform day to day?
MB: I am doing a story right now where Sonny’s girlfriend has dual personality disorder. I just saw the show and when I was watching her I played it as though Sonny was watching himself. It was interesting and the show is doing a really wonderful job showcasing this illness.
MG: Can you tell us what you think the future of Soap’s will be?
MB: We got picked up because the show is doing so well right now. I think we will keep going because the people we have producing and writing for the show are kicking butt. Yes soaps are going off the air but it doesn’t mean ours is. All soaps go through highs and lows.
MG: What do you enjoy most about theshow after almost 20 years?
MB: I love this character! The people I work with really push me. If I wasn’t working with such great actors I would probably be doing something else. There are good stories on top of that so I love going to work.
MG: Do you have any other new projects you can tell us about?
MB: I have a film coming out called “Duke”. I have 1 scene in the film that is about 5 or 6 pages. I play a cop killer. This film is really cool. I don’t know exactly when it will be released but it’s going to be good.