Interview with Maurice Benard from "The Ghost and the Whale" and "General Hospital" - Primetime TV Show Articles From The TV MegaSite

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By Suzanne

Maurice Benard (Sonny) on General Hospital on ABC 

Interview with Maurice Benard of the movie "The Ghost and the Whale" and "General Hospital" on ABC 5/20/16

This interview was about Maurice Benard's starring role in "The Ghost and the Whale," which you can see On Demand, on Amazon, on iTunes, or on Vudu. It's worth watching. It has good suspense and action, but it also has a lot of realism, some romance, tragedy, and even some fantasy. The acting is really good, and the writing is phenomenal... particularly when it comes to the characters. I found it enjoyable.

It was great to speak with him. I've been a fan of his, as I told him, ever since I used to watch him on "All My Children" as Nico. That was before he moved later to "General Hospital."  I've watched him on there since he started. I think he's a fantastic actor (he's won many Daytime Emmys) and underrated outside the daytime industry. He's great in  "The Ghost and the Whale" as a man tormented by his bi-polar condition, as well as the death of his wife.

He was just very nice and personable in the phone call. Just a regular guy!

I first interviewed Anthony and James Gaudioso, who wrote and directed the movie as well as played important roles.

Here's the audio of our interview, and here's the transcript by Gisele.

1. How long did it take to film the movie and where was it filmed?

It was filmed in Bodega Bay. I think it was about 3 or 4 weeks. I can go fast 'cause I do a soap opera. So, it was tough 'cause it was freezing and I had to talk to the ocean [Chuckles] and I was cold, man. The only CGI was the whales, but me talking was not talking to anything but the water, you know? Yeah, a lot of monologues, but it was cool.

2. Did you get to meet Jonathan Pryce?

No. What happened was when he got onboard, we were just ecstatic, but we hadn't really heard anything from him. All of a sudden, I'm in the kitchen, and my wife and her assistant are listening to something and were like crying. Jonathan Pryce had sent over the voice of the whale, and they were listening to his interpretation of the whale, and I heard it and got chills.

3. I was thrilled to see Ron Hale! He looks great! I thought he was retired?

Ron had a nice little role as a priest. He did us a favor, and he was great in that little role. I think, at that time, he might have just retired, but, you know, he was gonna do me that favor, so...

4. Was it difficult for you at all, emotionally, to film, since you have bipolar disorder in real life?

Yeah. What made it difficult on this thing it is my wife's first movie producing, so there was stress on that. And it was a new character, and I didn't wanna be like Sonny, so that was stressful. And this guy's tragic, so there was a time in the movie, like in the first week and a half, where I was starting to lose it a bit, but not out of control, you know what I mean? I remember at night, you know, I don't know, not hearing voices but just my thoughts were racing. You know, I've been taught as an actor to become the other person. I don't know how healthy that is for me anymore. [Laughs] But I did do that with Joseph Hawthorne, and it was difficult. They wanted to see pain, pain, pain. For me, I just love the ending.

5. What was it like, working with your wife, Paula, on the film?

Well, she was 100% helpful, because if I was starting to use my hands too much or whatever it was, she'd come out and say, "Honey, you're being too much Sonny," and I would say to her, 'cause the directors didn't know much of Sonny, so they didn't -- Paula's been with me forever, so I would ask, "Is it too much Sonny? And she'd say, "No, no, you're doing great." So that helped. The stressful part was that I just wanted it to be great for her. She's the producer, right?

6. You have been friends with the Gaudioso brothers for a while?

Yeah, we've been friends, and we've known them for four years now, maybe five, I don't remember. Every time I say I don't quite remember, I think of Joseph in that monologue when he says, "I don't quite remember." It was funny when I read it on the script and I was acting, it felt like, "No one talks like this." But I just said to you, "I don't quite remember."

7. Have you gotten good feedback from fans about it so far?

Let me tell you something -- I saw the movie in a theater with an audience at a film festival, but it was phenomenal, the reaction from the audience. And then I saw the movie at the premier with actors, and it was a whole different vibe. But the response I'm getting from people who've seen it, like you or somebody else that I've talked to on social media, has been exactly the kind of response that I would want. Just into it, you know what I mean? Yeah, at least, I can say the movie will not bore you. It takes you on a journey, and whether you want to go on that journey is up to you, but at the end, it pays it. It's kind of a throwback to the '70s. I was a big Billy Jack fan with the music and the scope and Hitchcock, too. It's just a throwback, and I think it's cool. I like those kind of films. I like revenge films, although it's a different type of revenge movie for me.

8. What about your GH co-workers? Have they been giving you good feedback?

Well, they went to the premiere, and actors are going to give it to you right upfront, you know? But they were proud of Paula's accomplishment and my accomplishment, and they were entertained, and things like that, but they're gonna give you little nitpicky stuff, you know what I mean? But overall, it was great.

9. Do you have plans to make future movies?

I was supposed to do a movie a couple of months ago, but it didn't work out -- my fault, but I just finished a movie called "Hold On," which will be out in the summer. I just finished a "Castle" that aired. And I'm busy, I'm busy at my age, 53. But I'll take it. I'll take it now. I think I'm more ready than I've ever been.

10. Will you do more movies with the Gaudioso brothers?

With me, it's all about the character, I've got to read it, and if I click with it, then I'm doing it. It's just the way it is, you know? I'm there.

11. Does working on GH still challenge you as an actor after all these years?

It still challenges me, but it's more safe 'cause it's kind of a family now. I've been there for so long. So, I don't get the challenge of being on a new set, being nervous that way, different actors. But I till challenge myself. Working with Bryan Craig (Morgan) was great. He's such a talent at his age. It's unreal but it was great watching from the outside looking in and seeing bipolar from that view, and it's interesting.

12. Are any of your daughters going into show business?

No, I don't think so. I think my one daughter, Cailey, she's at the University of San Diego. She wants to be a therapist, which she will be. I guarantee you that, 'cause she's got that kind of drive. Maybe Joshua, my boy. He seems to have it in him. But, you know, I used to manage a boxer, and he had all the talent in the world -- physically, everything -- and he was young, like 19. And he came to my house, and he said, "I wanna quit." And I asked him why. He said, "I just don't wanna do it." So I said to him, "There are a lot of Sugar Ray Leonards and Mohammad Alis working at Target. You gotta have drive. You gotta have the heart and the drive, otherwise -- And not that working at Target is bad or anything, but I'm just saying there's a lot of talented people working at places that they could be so much more, but they don't have the drive or the heart (to do more).

13. What has been the greatest part of making this movie and sharing your bipolar history with others?

Well, for me, the best part was, never having been the lead of a movie, that was a challenge for me, and I was very into that, especially when my wife produced. Working with James & Anthony, they're actors, so they knew how to speak my language. That was great! And just finishing it. Even now just talking to you and getting a distributor is great. This is just, you know. We'd never done it. I just did "Doctor Oz," and he was fantastic, and he mentioned "Ghost and the Whale" -- he was nice enough to do that. We really appreciate it, and it's great talking about bipolar, 'cause that's kind of my life now.

14. Is there anything else you'd like to tell all of your many fans?

Just to check out this film and close your eyes when you get to one scene. [Laughs] 'Cause I don't wanna scare people too much, and just spread the word. The only reason the one scene is real violent is because of how it's done realistically. You do see a lot more violence in other movies, but you see so much of it that it just becomes like okay, it's arms off and it's things off and this off, but in this one, it's done so slow, and I don't want to give it away. Anyway. But nobody's said anything about it, so I guess it's not that bad.

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