Credit: Jill Johnson/JPI (2)

I was just a kid, just a stupid, naive kid who was still finding her way.”

Alicia Leigh Willis’ exit from General Hospital in 2006 came as a shock. “People were saying, ‘Why are you leaving the show? They are offering you another four years. You are a working actor. What are you doing?’” the actress recalled during the January 22 edition of former castmate Maurice Benard’s State of Mind (which you can watch in full below). “And I was like, ‘I can’t stay. I am so unhappy.’”

The reason? At least in part, the Emmy winner who played her big brother, Sonny. Unaware that he was living with bipolar disorder, “I didn’t know what you were going through,” Willis said. “All I knew was that you and I were always close. I always had a way of taking things really personally. So if someone was in a bad mood around me, I felt like it was my fault, like I had done something. So for a long time, when I came to work, I didn’t know what Maurice I was going to get.

“I would come to work, and one day you would be the most charming, lovely person, and then another day I was a little scared of you,” she continued. “I was like, ‘Does he hate me? Did I do something?’ I sent you an email where we talked about it a little bit. I didn’t understand it. I was just a kid, just a stupid, naive kid who was still finding her way.”

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Things Can Only Get Better

Benard acknowledged that Willis’ run on the soap coincided with some trying times. “I was going through some dark stuff. And I took it out on Tamara [Braun, ex-Carly],” he said. “I don’t feel good about it, but I apologized. I was a different guy then.”

Unfortunately, the guy he was then wasn’t able to be there for his on-screen sib the way that he might’ve been today. “I remember the last year at the show, it was really dark, and I would go to my dressing room and just cry,” Willis said. “And it wasn’t just that. That was a big part of it.

“I felt like we had such a good connection that I didn’t feel like I had anyone to turn to. It almost felt like high school in a way,” she added. “There was a time when you didn’t really know who your friends were and who had your back and who didn’t.”

Viva La Difference

Ironically, Willis and the Benard of today probably would’ve been able to hash everything out, and Spencer’s mother might still be alive and well in Port Charles. “If we had had this kind of dialogue back then,” she said, “think about how much easier it would have been for all of us to just talk to each other.”

Find out why more soap stars left their spots on the frontburner in the below photo album.

Video: YouTube/State of Mind