General Hospital’s Maurice Benard and Wife Paula Get ‘Super Emotional’ Reflecting on the Highs and Lows of Their 35 Years Together: It Got ‘Very Scary’
The real-life supercouple got candid on camera.
Just days after General Hospital icon Maurice Benard (Sonny) and wife Paula celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary — they’ve been together for an additional five years — she joined her husband in his latest State of Mind video to discuss what it’s like being hitched to someone who’s bipolar. “Yeah, I didn’t sign up for it,” she cracked. “Maybe now’s the time to tell you.”
Kidding aside, Mrs. Benard said that “it’s no different than living with anyone with any other problem… I mean, yes, it’s difficult, but you know… I don’t know. I don’t think twice about it.
“I just do whatever we have to do to manage it,” she continued. “When times are hard, then we dig deeper and figure out what we need to do. But to me, it’s almost a question that shouldn’t even be asked.”
Her devotion certainly came in handy some 27 years ago, when Benard had his third nervous breakdown shortly after joining the cast of General Hospital. “I had not been taking my medication for two years,” he recalled. “And something was wrong. I quit the show after three weeks… ”
“To be a priest!” Paula reminded him. Yep, “I wanted to take my shoes off and preach to the whole country,” the Emmy winner admitted. “I threatened your life one night, which I’m not proud of. But you actually said on Oprah that it wasn’t me. What did you mean by that?”
What Paula meant was that her husband, the man she loved, wasn’t present in that moment. “When you were saying it just now, saying ‘I threatened your life,’ inside of me I wanted to say, ‘Well, you didn’t threaten my life,’” she shared. “I just got super emotional… I know that something has almost in a way possessed your state of mind [in such an instance], and it’s just a matter of getting through whatever that issue is… The right medication takes those terrible thoughts out of your head.”
Benard was curious. Did he look different at a time like that? “You’re the same person,” his missus replied, “but inside your eyes? Deep in your soul, it’s not you.
“It’s scary. It’s very scary,” she added, “because I know we’ve talked about you saying you would never have done anything, and I’m sitting there saying I’m looking at you and I didn’t know that you wouldn’t do anything.”
Having dealt with her husband’s condition for so long, Paula knows that 100 percent of the time, he gets better. And that’s a message both of them hoped too impart to anyone watching. “It may take a while, but eventually, if you do the right things, you get through it,” Benard said. “You’ll see that light at the end of the tunnel.”
To watch their full conversation, press PLAY on the video above. Then check out the photo gallery below that reviews some of the trials Benard has faced on screen as Sonny.
<p>Rarely does anyone in town mention that when first we met Sonny, he was running a strip joint and getting underage girls hooked on pills. Well, anyone but Scott, whose daughter, Karen, was one of those girls! Instead, most people — including the local police — ignore the shadier side of Sonny’s halo.</p>
<p>In Port Charles, you’re nobody until somebody’s tried to shoot you. But where Sonny’s concerned, the bullets have hit their mark as often as they’ve missed! Despite having eaten more lead than is produced by a pencil factory in a year, Sonny’s managed to avoid having his name written in that great ledger in the sky.</p>
<p>One of those aforementioned shootings took place on what was to be Sonny’s wedding day. But instead of walking down the aisle to remarry Carly, he raced to save a kidnapped T.J. and wound up taking a bullet which left him in a wheelchair. Proving you can’t keep a (questionably) good man down, he ultimately took a literal stand to protect daughter Kristina from a would-be kidnapper.</p>
<p>We don’t know exactly what illegal activities fund Sonny’s empire, but we know he’s darned good at them! For years, he’s not only kept his family in the style to which it’s become accustomed (translation: He’s rich!), but he’s prevented rivals from selling drugs or running guns in “his” town, at least until the recent arrival of Cyrus Renault. </p>
<p>Discovering that he’s bipolar was, as Dr. Phil would say, a changing day in Sonny’s life. (The same proved true for portrayer Maurice Benard, who writes about his struggle with the disorder in his memoir, <a href="https://amzn.to/2X1An5i" target="_blank"><em>Nothing General About It</em></a>.) It not only enhanced his understanding of himself and his behavior, it made him uniquely qualified to help son Morgan, who shared the same diagnosis before his tragic demise.</p>
<p>Don’t tell current wife Carly, but we suspect a big part of Sonny’s heart will always be with the one who got away, <a href="https://soaps.sheknows.com/general-hospital/characters/brenda-barrett-corinthos/" target="_blank">Brenda Barrett</a>. Ironically, when their one and only attempt at marriage fell apart, Carly — who, all told, wed Sonny five times — was the one who fought to keep them from divorcing.</p>
<p>The former wives and lovers of Port Charles’ dimpled don have plenty of reason to despise him, yet somehow they don’t. Olivia forgave him for shooting their son, Dante. And clearly, Carly got over that whole shot-her-in-the-head-while-she-was-birthing-Morgan thing! Even Sonny and Ava have occasionally put aside their differences for the sake of Avery, the adorable result of their evening of hate sex.</p>
<p>There’s a poignant irony to the fact that Sonny is struggling to let go of his ailing father, given how many years they spent estranged. Long ago, Mike (then <a href="https://soaps.sheknows.com/actors/ron-hale/" target="_blank">Ron Hale</a>) walked away from his son without a backward glance, leading to a lifetime of regrets and recriminations. Will Sonny now be able to live with whatever decision he makes where his father’s ultimate fate is concerned?</p>
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