Every week, General Hospital star Maurice Benard invites a special guest or two on his YouTube videocast, State of Mind. This week he invited Days of our Lives powerhouse, Alison Sweeney, and the results were blockbuster. The two daytime greats had a lot of experiences to explore and share.
Alison Sweeney Talks Hollywood
It started out with Benard (GH’s Sonny Corinthos) explaining why he was so excited about having Alison Sweeney (DAYS’ Sami Brady DiMera) on his show. He asked about how she got started in acting.
“So, anyone who lives here knows that you are surrounded by people who want to be actors,” Sweeney responded, going back to the early origins of her love of acting. “I was 4 years old, in my pre-school class, and my teacher wanted to be an actress,” she explained.
“And one day, randomly, when my mother picked me up at the school, the teacher said to my mother, ‘You know, you should take your daughter on auditions. She is so funny and outgoing. She would be great at it.’ My mother just thought it was funny and didn’t think anything about it.”
But the seed was planted and her mother began to explore the idea further. “My mother is a violinist. She played for the movie studios, did all the feature soundtracks for all the big movies for almost four years. So she had a peripheral experience of Hollywood. She knew enough people that she got me an audition. She thought it would be funny.”
Sweeney shared the audition that started it all. “I went in there with a red balloon,” she revealed. “She said if I made the people laugh, I might get a pony. And I went in and got the job. It was a national Kodak commercial. I had to pretend that I was on a sled with my family. It was July and we shot this winter scene. I was overheated…and I LOVED it! I loved it from the very first moment. I loved auditioning. I loved working. I loved everything about it.”
The Darker Side Of Fame
Moving forward, Alison Sweeney eased into her career in daytime television, landing the role of a lifetime, Sami Brady, on Days of our Lives, then moved on to the heart of their discussion — body shaming in Hollywood. “I want to talk about this body image thing so bad! Tell me what happened,” implored Benard.
And Sweeney didn’t hold back. “I auditioned for a really popular nighttime soap opera in the 90s, early 2000s and they told my agent, ‘Send her back here after she has lost 20lbs,” she shared. “Straight out. They didn’t care.”
She wiped a tear away, “It just kills me. I remember there was this phase of the low-fat diet? Where there were fake cookies or baked things and I would go home, be so upset that I would eat an entire box of low-fat cookies. It was just crushing. It was demoralizing. Especially because I love it! I love acting.”
The Next Chapter
Her Hollywood story could have ended there. But that isn’t Alison Sweeney’s style. She admits to being competitive and driven in everything she does, leading to the next part of their conversation — her stint as a host on NBC’s The Biggest Loser.
Sweeney explained that she met the producers of the Biggest Loser while working on another project and they approached her about hosting the show. Intrigued by the idea, she went to Ken Corday, executive producer of DAYS, to see if it was even possible to do both shows at once. He gave her the green light and the rest is history. “I couldn’t believe it. What an incredible opportunity.”
The interview goes on to cover her work as an Ambassador for Stand Up To Cancer, which really hit home for Benard as his wife Paula battled thyroid cancer at the time he was filming Mike’s (Max Gail) death on GH [February 4, 2020].
Benard himself is a survivor of skin cancer. It also brought up his feelings about his dad’s struggle with Alzheimer’s, which was diagnosed around the same time. Throw into the mix the discussion about doctors and the need for cohesion during any medical crisis and the conversation turned raw and emotional very fast.
“Max Gail looked like my dad, [GH] even dressed him like my dad,” he explained, tearing up. “I would touch Max and he was my dad because the texture of the jacket was my dad’s, the same color! It was art imitating life. My dad is going through it right now and it’s tough stuff, you know.”
Alison Sweeney shared a similar story about her mothering instincts with co-star Chandler Massey (Will Horton), and the emotions that brought up, then turned the conversation to lighter topics such as her tips on a healthy marriage, her mental attitude on life, as well as her work as a writer, producer, and director.
And did we mention the Hallmark Channel? There’s that and her work with soon-to-be GH cast member, Cameron Mathison. “I trained him up for you!” Sweeney laughed. “He is all ready for you.”
As a fan, just imagining a pairing between two of daytime’s greatest characters, like Sonny and Sami, is the stuff that dreams are made of. Until then, do yourself a favor and catch this episode of State of Mind. You can check out the full interview by clicking here. You can also watch a preview below.
Today on @mbstateofmind Alison Sweeney joins me.
What really touched me was when @Ali_Sweeney started talking about body image. I truly got angry with those unkind and unnecessary comments she received, but boy did she prove them wrong!
— Maurice Benard (@MauriceBenard) August 8, 2021
View this post on Instagram