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“[Bleep] you,” he jokingly told Maurice Benard (Sonny) when their two-part State of Mind sit-down got emotional.

When General Hospital castmates Maurice Benard and Dominic Zamprogna got together for one of the former’s State of Mind tapings, the conversation went quite literally all over the place. One minute, Dante’s portrayer would be sharing the story of how his fancy footwork had gotten him cast in the 1992 TV movie The Trial of Red Riding Hood; the next, they were discussing Zamprogna’s tendency to get loud — which, he noted, doesn’t always mean that he’s mad. But…

But, he added, it can be a challenge to stop himself when he goes into “the red zone” and communicate rather than escalate. “What doesn’t feel masculine in the moment is to strip away all that stuff and acknowledge what you’re doing. I did that last night with my kids and my wife [Linda], and the whole night shifted.”

A Lightbulb Moment

The experience was a revelation for Zamprogna. “The world is crazy right now,” he noted. The question is, “are you gonna take out your stress on your loved ones? We save our best for the people we’re not around the most, and we lose our [bleep] on the people that we are around the most.”

In this instance, Zamprogna managed to rein in his emotions. And “the minute I started talking about it… all of a sudden, the warmth comes back in the room, and the love comes back into the relationship,” he marveled. (You can watch the full Q&A below.)

‘Nothing Calmed Me Down’

In Part 2 of Zamprogna’s chat with his on-screen dad, the duo recalled the General Hospital storyline in which Sonny took aim at the undercover cop that he didn’t know was his own child. “Just rewatching it again it gave me chills,” admitted Zamprogna, adding, “I don’t watch stuff that I’ve done and get chills.”

Soon, talk turned to the 2013 passing of the actor’s beloved mother. (Told you the conversation zigged and zagged, occasionally going in a heartbeat from jovial to crushing.) Suffering that great a loss, “you feel like your life force has been ripped out of you,” Zamprogna said. “You don’t even know it exists until it happens. All of a sudden, the person who gave you life, who created you, isn’t there anymore…

“I thought I was having a heart attack,” he added.

The worst for him was actually a couple of weeks before his mom died. He was sitting downstairs in his parents’ home in the living room in the middle of the night, thinking, “What do I do? It was such an intense period of my life. I would have to leave work and fly home [to Canada] for two or three weeks straight every couple of days.” Once there, he’d spend every day at the hospital praying for a miracle that didn’t seem likely to come.

Zamprogna tried watching TV, which had often soothed him before. But “nothing calmed me down that night,” he said. “Every single muscle in my entire body was engaged. All at once. And then all through my chest was vibrating.

“I don’t even like talking about it,” he continued, “because I don’t want to feel that way.”

Desperate, Zamprogna called his wife. “She said, ‘OK, you’re probably just having a panic attack. Imagine there’s a warm light coming down from the sky going all through your body… Focus on that.’”

And, more than even the imagery, it was Linda’s voice that reached Zamprogna. As he put it, “It was just her words, man.” (You can watch the talk in full below.)

If, after that emotional story, you need a mental-health break before resuming your day, maybe you can take it with the below photo gallery, which revisits Dante’s life in Port Charles.