General Hospital Exclusive: Maurice Benard Reveals Once and for All Whether Vanessa Marcil Is Returning — Plus, What’s in the Works That’ll Make Sonny/Brenda Fans ‘Crazy’
At last we can stop waiting and wondering whether the Port Charles supercouple will get another chance.
When Soaps.com’s Kristyn Burtt caught up with General Hospital legend Maurice Benard on the Daytime Emmys red carpet, she didn’t dive right in and ask the nominee — who’s going for his third Outstanding Lead Actor win, for those keeping track — whether Vanessa Marcil was headed back to the show as Brenda (as she’s so often teased on social media). Rather, our interviewer slyly backed into the $64K question by inquiring about how Benard distinguished Sonny from an amnesiac Mike.
“When I do different characters, it’s all about what kind of energy they have,” he explained. “With this guy, the energy was more calm [than with Sonny], I had to laugh a lot more, he had his lands in his pockets, he wasn’t intense… ”
In other words, Mike is the guy that Sonny could’ve been if he hadn’t gotten mixed up with the Mob and become the Teflon don? Yup, “that’s what he would be,” said Benard, adding that while he’s been enjoying playing the amnesiac version of his character, fans… well, “they just want Sonny back. It’s all about Sonny, Sonny, Sonny.
“They’re cool with me doing something else,” he continued, “but they just love the character of Sonny. And I love playing Sonny. He’ll come back.”
Ah, but will Brenda? Marcil has dropped hint after hint that her days in Port Charles aren’t over. So will Brenda and Sonny get one more shot at getting it right? “No,” he said definitively. “We’ve got something we’re working on right now, but not General Hospital.
“If it happens, it’s gonna be great,” he added. “Fans [will be] crazy.”
To watch the whole interview — in which Benard reveals the recurring disagreement that he and Steve Burton (Jason) have — press PLAY on the video above. Then, before tuning in to the ceremony on Friday, June 25, at 8/7c on CBS, check out some of the most memorable Daytime Emmy acceptance speeches of all time via the photo gallery below.
<p>Upon being named the Oustanding Supporting Actor of 1997 for his work as <em>Bold & Beautiful</em> shrink James, soap-hopper Ian Buchanan took to the stage and began a love scene with his award. “Oh, baby,” he exclaimed, <a href="https://youtu.be/r881Eyi3C_A?t=775" target="_blank">planting a kiss on his golden girl</a>. “This is totally unexpected.” So was <em>that</em>! From there, he thanked the show’s creators for also making his boss, Bradley Bell.</p>
<p>When <em>One Life to Live </em>vet Erika Slezak won <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-uMMMDemwMI" target="_blank">her sixth and final statuette</a> for playing Viki in 2005, she first cheered her fellow nominees, with whom she’d had lunch the previous day. Calling them “the greatest dames on Earth,” the venerable veteran laughed that “I thought they were going to throw us out of the restaurant, we had such a good time.” She even gave a special shout-out to on-screen sparring partner Robin Strasser (Dorian).</p>
<p>Sigh. We’ll never stop missing the late <em>Young & Restless</em> star, who was named 1992’s Outstanding Younger Actor for his performance as Neil. Even relatively early on his career, he was the portrait of the poised professional, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0LbK7roKMZM" target="_blank">calling the cast and crew “a family”</a> and sharing his love of “God, for without whom nothing is important and with whom everything is possible.”</p>
<p>Winning his first Daytime Emmy in 1998 — for Outstanding Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Jason on<em> General Hospital</em> — Steve Burton was so pumped, he didn’t so much give an acceptance speech as yell it. The magic of the moment in his voice, he <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KN6cgbciCYU" target="_blank">thanked God, Mom, Dad</a> and the fiancée who became his wife in 1999.</p>
<p>Upon scoring an Outstanding Supporting Actress Daytime Emmy in 1995 for her star turn as Lois on <em>General Hospital</em>, Rena Sofer (now a <em>Bold & Beautiful</em> scene stealer as Quinn) <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4uEkWeZl1Sk" target="_blank">delivered her acceptance speech</a> with the efficiency of an auctioneer. “You should be up here,” she told Jacklyn Zeman (Bobbie) before thanking on- and then-off-screen leading man Wally Kurth (Ned). “You’re an actor who just lets me go. You have brought love into my life, your child’s love into my life… ” With that, she deadpanned, “I’m not pregnant.” (The former marrieds did have a daughter together a couple of years later, but she was referring to Kurth’s firstborn.)</p>
<p>“I really didn’t think I was gonna win,” admitted then-rookie Cynthia Watros when she <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1adM8OfjVug" target="_blank">took home the Lead Actress Emmy</a> in 1998 after being nominated for the first time for the role she’d just left, that of <em>Guiding Light</em>’s Annie. In fact, the up-and-comer — now Nina on <em>General Hospital</em> — was so overcome with emotion that presenter Joseph Mascolo (Stefano, <em>Days of Our Lives</em>) passed her a handkerchief. “Thank you,” she gasped, “for putting up with me!”</p>
<p>“I <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCvZ1W1Vc1s" target="_blank">did not prepare a speech at all</a>,” admitted Amelia Heinle in 2014, when she was named Outstanding Supporting Actress for the first time for her portrayal of Victoria on <em>The Young and the Restless</em>. Winging it, she thanked “my bosses first,” then the duo that had kept her at her audition to replace Heather Tom. “I wanted to run out,” she confessed. “I was terrified of taking on this role [that she originated]. But it’s been the most fulfilling thing in my life.”</p>
<p>When Maurice Benard’s work as Sonny on <em>General Hospital</em> earned him his first Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in 2003, he put down his statuette on the stage, then thanked <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6Tes-CnP2M" target="_blank">the trailblazer who’d played Luke</a>. “Tony Geary, we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you,” he said. #truth And when Benard’s speech went on for so long that the band was cued up to usher him off, he just went right on talking until he was good and done. Nobody puts Sonny in a corner!</p>
<p>“I gotta tell you that walk from my seat to this stage took a few seconds, but it was actually 37 years,” said <em>Days of Our Lives</em>’ James Reynolds when at last he won the Outstanding Lead Actor Daytime Emmy in 2018. In accepting the prize for his portrayal of Abe, the class act acknowledged his predecessors, Al Freeman Jr. (Ed, <em>One Life to Live</em>), Darnell Williams (Jesse, <em>All My Children</em>) and A Martinez (Cruz, <em>Santa Barbara</em>), “the other actors of color in the last 45 years” that had scored in the same category.</p>
<p>Rocking some fantastically New Wave hair — eat your heart out, Flock of Seagulls! — Kim Zimmer exuberantly took off her shoes en route to the stage to tearfully accept her 1985 Outstanding Lead Actress Daytime Emmy. And after thanking all of the fellow nominees from whom she’d learned the tricks of the trade, she expressed her gratitude to <em>Guiding Light</em> headwriter Pam Long “for creating <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNHmfHV9cRc" target="_blank">Reva Shayne Lewis</a>, and long may she live!”</p>
<p>Back in 2000 — years before <em>The Young and the Restless</em>’ Mariah was even a gleam in a headwriter’s eye — 10-year-old Camryn Grimes became <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2Nc2i88AXg" target="_blank">the youngest-ever winner</a> of a Daytime Emmy. And technically, what Cassie’s portrayer said wasn’t so memorable as the way that she said it, emotionally and so close to hyperventilating that presenter Martha Byrne (Lily, <em>As the World Turns</em>) leaned down to remind her to take a breath.</p>
<p>“My day started with my baby spitting up on me right before I left to come here,” admitted <em>Bold & Beautiful</em> leading lady Jacqueline MacInnes Wood in accepting her first Outstanding Lead Actress Daytime Emmy in 2019, “then my heel broke right when I got on the red carpet.” But once she had that golden girl in her hand, fughadaboudit! <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HY8vsYlzTeU" target="_blank">“It was worth it!”</a> she exclaimed.</p>
<p>When <em>Guiding Light</em> MVP Michael Zaslow earned his Outstanding Lead Actor Emmy in 1992 for his pot-stirring as Roger, he not only <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIRu1fV7Yj8" target="_blank">thanked his peers for sparing his daughters</a> from having to write him another consolation note, he shared how wonderful his wife was. “I tell you that not only because it’s true,” he added, “but because she told me to tell you, because she said that’s what David Canary (Adam/Stuart, <em>All My Children</em>) and Peter Bergman (Jack, <em>Young & Restless</em>) always say.”</p>
<p>Upon claiming her first Outstanding Lead Actress Daytime Emmy in 2014, Eileen Davidson (then <em>Days of Our Lives</em>’ Kristen) gave a shout-out to her onetime <em>Young & Restless</em> stepdaughter, Heather Tom (who’d played Victoria to her Ashley). “First of all, I have to <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCeXKE4VYF0" target="_blank">thank Heather for sharing</a>,” joked Davidson, “<em>this</em> year.” Tom had taken home the prize in 2012 and 2013 for her work as Katie on <em>The Bold and the Beautiful</em>.</p>
<p>After taking home a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004, <em>Young & Restless</em> legend Jeanne Cooper won <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j06DKfBJveQ" target="_blank">her first Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress</a> four years later. “I bet you thought I had died,” she cracked. From there, Katherine’s late, great portrayer kept us in stitches. “Oh dear, high-definition or no high-definition… What can I tell ya? It’s a bitch, isn’t it?” Reason No. 21,459 why we never need a reminder that Cooper was one of a kind.</p>
<p>So declared presenter Shemar Moore (ex-Malcolm, <em>The Young and the Restless</em>). Because after what seemed like a cajillion nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress, <em>All My Children</em> icon Susan Lucci (Erica) finally won in 1999. “I truly <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgWEDVIFGN0" target="_blank">never believed that this would happen</a>,” she sobbed as Oprah Winfrey applauded from the sidelines. “I want to thank each and every one of you in this room. This is a room full of such talented, hardworking people, and the fact that you have thought that my work was worthy of notice 19 times is something that I will treasure always.”</p>
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