Maurice Benard (‘General Hospital’) on his 3rd Daytime Emmy win, mental health, and playing a ‘cool-ass character’ for 28 years [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

“Sonny’s energy is dark and dreadful, but he’s a cool-ass character,” declares Maurice Benard about the role he’s played on ABC’s “General Hospital” since 1993. Playing mob boss Sonny Corinthos on the long-running soap has earned the actor nine Daytime Emmy nominations, and wins as Best Actor in 2003, 2019 and now 2021. This makes Benard one of only five actors in Daytime Emmy history to win three or more times in the lead-actor category (along with Anthony Geary, Christian LeBlanc, Peter Bergman and the late David Canary). Watch our exclusive video interview with Benard above.

Winning those three Emmys took a while. It took 10 years for the actor to win his first, and then another 16 to win his second. But the gap has given him perspective on awards and what they mean for him in general. “I’m not happy now because I won an Emmy — I’m just happy,” he exclaims. “When I was young … if I would lose I would feel down and depressed a little bit. And if I would win, I’d be kind of manic. It’s not good. You’ve got to stay even-keeled.”

Benard’s Emmy wins in both 2019 and 2021 were for a storyline in which Sonny’s father Mike (double Emmy winner Max Gail) was diagnosed with and ultimately succumbed to Alzheimer’s disease. The story hit close to home for the actor, who revealed his own father’s struggle with the illness. “It was not acting because it was just so right there,” he explains about channeling his personal feelings into his performance. “I’d be exhausted afterwards, but it was actually a good exhaustion.” Benard has been open about his own struggles with bipolar disorder and anxiety, and he appreciates that “General Hospital” has incorporated mental health issues into Sonny’s storylines: “For me, it’s important and I love that because it educates people through acting.”

With Benard approaching his 30th anniversary on “GH,” his focus in recent years has been to serve as a mentor for the up-and-coming actors on the show. “I love helping the young actors because I never had that,” he explains. “So that’s been one of my highlights.” Benard also feels a strong connection to his fans: “I’ve never really been bored in 28 years,” he says. “I just have this certain connection with the audience, with my fans. I know almost what they’re thinking by how I feel in my gut.”

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