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Maurice Benard Looks Back With Ex-GH Producer Shelley Curtis

Maurice Benard and Shelley CurtisMaurice Benard and Shelley Curtis

Maurice Benard doubled the impact of his video podcast on YouTube called State of Mind with two separate interviews with former producers for General Hospital, Shelley Curtis and Wendy Riche. Here’s what Curtis had to say about her influences in the soap genre and the beginning of Sonny Corinthios’s reign as Port Charles’s favorite mob boss.

Shelley Curtis Learned About Soaps From The Best

Curtis described what led her to General Hospital, “I actually learned a lot of this through Gloria Monty [famed former executive producer for GH who turned the low-rated soap into an international phenomenon]. I started soaps in 1979. I was a very young kid and I wasn’t allowed to say a word. And I sat next to Gloria for six years. To her, she let actors act. People would say we are stretchy, we are getting too long. She said, ‘Forget it. I don’t care. It is in the eyes, they are playing it, cut to two, get in closer.’ She went for the actor and the role, so when you look down and take a beat, I know I can take it out in editing. I want that time.

“It is such a close-up medium. They want to see it real,” she continued. “They don’t want to see someone pretending and just talking fast. I do like speed in certain dialogue scenes, but to take that moment that you were taking, which felt very visceral and real…don’t cut.”

Benard laughed and added, “You were the queen of sexy!” Curtis responded, “All this goes back to Gloria Monty. What she taught me when you are talking about love stories or super couples or whatever you want to call it, and she would play it so real, it was all in the eyes and I would edit everything. She liked to shoot it with one camera, even in those days when we were shooting it live. When it came to love stories, she said, ‘One camera, one camera only!’ She would go around and shoot it and say, ‘God help me, dear, it is all in there.’

“So, I would sit in the editing room and put it all together, and build it. And we would do it to music,” reflected Curtis, on what made it special. “We would get looks, touches, moments, feelings…what was going on with those two characters. And I don’t think anyone takes that kind of time anymore.”

Maurice Benard: His Rocky Start At GH

Benard reflected on the fact that without Riche and Curtis, he wouldn’t have made it this far, personally and professionally. The two producers supported him as a young actor when it felt like his world was falling apart. “We handed you this [Sonny] and you put it all together,” the producer explained. “And I knew if we could get you up there and I could stand on the stage and be there for you, you knew it. And I had all of the faith in the world in you and I think you felt that, from me and from Wendy. And your co-workers loved you. Once you got up there and did it, you couldn’t believe you did it. And I said, ‘See Maurice, you did it, and you’ll come back and you will do it again.’”

She went on to paint the picture of the cast and crew of GH at that time, “It was a supportive group there. Nothing left that stage. It was a bubble. Our whole world [General Hospital] was a bubble back then. For me as well. Any troubles you went through, you could leave outside that bubble, leave beyond the stage. And I felt like there was nothing we could do.”

Shelley Curtis left the emotional host with a supportive mindset that serves her and her family well, “Just roll the ball forward, it’s a mantra, just move the ball forward a little bit, don’t let it roll back over you, even if it is still. Be kind to yourself, be kind to somebody. You were also so kind to everybody. You were also a fantastic listener.”

The two had so much more to share about Curtis’s thoughts on Benard, Sonny, soap operas of days gone by to the present, what worked and what doesn’t, pacing, how the genre nurtured some of the greatest actors of all time, how she responded when Oprah called and much more!

Don’t miss the full interview for Shelley Curtis on State of Mind! For the full episode with General Hospital’s former Executive Producer Wendy Riche, click here.

Follow Maurice Benard on Twitter, Instagram, and for more episodes of State Of Mind go to the main page of the video podcasts here.

General Hospital (GH) airs weekdays on ABC. Check your local listings for airtimes. For more about what’s coming up in Port Charles, check out all the latest that’s been posted on General Hospital spoilers, and for an in-depth look at the show’s history, click here.

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