Maurice Benard packs a heavy punch in the world of acting. Most of you know him as the dark Sonny Corinthos of General Hospital. But for his latest project, he collaborates with his wife of 30 years, Paula Benard, on their first film: The Ghost and the Whale. It’s a dramatic and mysterious piece that the duo should be beyond proud of.
Benard stars as Joseph Hawthorne, a bi-polar man who went off to sea with his wife (played by Madeleine Hammer). When he returns to the gloomy town of Bodega without her, mystery begins to swirl. Even with his exoneration, the community is skeptical of his innocence. And a year later, a journalist attempts to unravel the untold story.
Being a huge actor, fans sometimes forget Maurice is who he is today because of his past and the adversity he has faced over the years. From taking work home or dealing with the the passing of best friend, he has always stayed true to himself and amazing ability he has acquired. He can't reiterate enough about how important his wife has been to him throughout his up and down career. This is Paula's first time as a producer and Maurice could not be happier for her, as he said "She is everything, man." Oprah will be doing a follow up on the film and in May there will be an industry screening of the movie. Continue reading for an insider look at Sonny, Joseph and Maurice himself in ShareTV’s exclusive interview below where he opens up about his beautiful relationship with Paula and his road to success in acting.
P.S. Watch the trailer for The Ghost and the Whale for just a taste of Benard's mind blowing performance, due out in 2014!
When did you officially start your acting career?
"I started my acting career when I was 21 years-old. I did some plays and really studied the art of acting."
How stressful is it being an actor?
"The stress level can be pretty high at times. Over the years, I have learned how to deal with it a lot better than I did in the past. To me, acting can be very therapeutic but at times it can take you down a dark path. When I am playing Sonny, I can really relate to a lot of the adversity he faces. In that regard, acting is a very stressful job."
Tell me about the audition process for General Hospital?
"I didn't actually audition for General Hospital. I met with the producers for two long hours while my wife Paula was waiting for me in the car. At that point in my career, we weren't doing well financially and really needed a job. I didn't really want to do a soap again, but I had the opportunity to play Sonny, the owner of a strip joint for a six month contract. The contract fit me perfectly and I took the job."
Before you became famous yourself, who did you look up to?
"When I first started acting I watched everyone. Gene Hackman, Robert De Niro, Marlon Brando, all of the greats. But, the one I truly looked up to was the Al Pacino."
You are one of the biggest names in the industry right now. With stardom, comes a large fan base. What is one of the most extreme things a fan has done?
"I have the best fans in the world! They have always been so respectful to my family and I over the years. They have followed me through thick and thin, man. But, there was a stalker. It was a very scary situation. She truly believed that she was my wife."
What advice would you give a young actor?
"The only advice you can tell anyone is to just become the best you can be. If you give everything you have, you will succeed. And that's by studying and studying and studying. Because, when all else fails, all you have is your dedication to the art."
What is your favorite movie right now?
Speaking of The Ghost of The Whale, how is it working with your wife (Paula Benard) on this movie?
"I am so proud of my wife and everything she has done with this movie. She does so much for me on so many different levels. Its her first time producing a movie and she kicked major ass. I have to give my family a lot credit because after filming a movie like this, you become apart of the character. And in this case, he was a dark character. For a solid month I was not an easy person to be around. Lucky for me, I have the greatest family a man can ask for."
Where was the movie filmed?
"The movie was filmed in Bodega Bay. The same location where they filmed the movie The Birds."
After the film airs, what is next for Maurice and Paula Benard?
"Things are looking up and if this does well, we are wanting to do another movie. Paula is having a lot of meetings and projects that she is doing on her own. Maybe they will need a janitor and I can take over the custodial duties on set haha. But seriously, I would love to do a badass mobster movie. What you're going to see in The Ghost and The Whale is so different than Sonny. Maybe I'll shave my head, grow out a goatee, and just be a total tough guy. You know what I mean?"
When you're not working on The Ghost and the Whale or General Hospital what are your hobbies?
"I really enjoy to just get in the ring and box. Boxing lets me clear my mind and really just relax. It is almost therapeutic to me. When I am not in the ring, I am playing with my dog. He is a long coated Akita and seriously dude, he looks like a bear."