GH’s Maurice Benard had very personal reasons for inviting his latest guest to bare her soul on his video podcast, State of Mind. Kimberly McCullough is quite simply — family. “You’re like a little sister to me!” he laughed.
Kimberly McCullough Shared How It All Began
Kimberly McCullough (Robin Scorpio, GH) stole hearts onscreen and off when she debuted at General Hospital on September 6, 1985, as Robin Scorpio, the beloved daughter of Robert Scorpio (Tristan Rogers) and Anna Devane (Finola Hughes).
She was already an entertainment veteran at the age of 7 years old, having made her television debut in a diaper commercial opposite Juliet Mills (ex-Tabitha, Passions), and a big-screen debut as a dancer at the age of 5 in Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo. But it was her role as Robin on GH that set the tone of her career, honed her acting skills, inspired her to take on directing in later years, and gave her a “family” that would be her support system for 35 plus years.
“My very first audition for General Hospital, I remember thinking that this dialogue,” she recalled, “this is a lot of responsibility. And I welcomed the challenge. Then around, I think it was my 10th audition, I finally met Finola and Tristan and we did a series of improvisations. They were treating me like this veteran actor. Treating me with respect.”
McCullough grew up on the set, soaking in the knowledge from such veterans as Rogers, Hughes, Ian Buchanan (Duke Lavery), John J. York (Mac Scorpio), Jack Wagner (Frisco Jones), and Kristina Malandro (later Wagner; Felicia Jones, GH). “I just appreciated that so much.” She reflected, “These were all the people that were, in a sense, taking care of my creative life. And I was one of them.”
The Story Of A Lifetime
The two actors looked back on one of the greatest soap storylines of all time, the Stone and Robin AIDS storyline. “It’s a trip because I look back and the things that were going on in my real life were chaotic and traumatic and awful,” McCullough explained. “And that story allowed me to have a catharsis and sort of think of things in a very escapism kind of way, even though it was also a deep, heavy, tragic story, there was something so full of love about it. It wasn’t just melodrama for the sake of melodrama, which you know we do a lot of.
“This [storyline] was ground-breaking…[and it was handled] in such a loving way.” She continued, “We didn’t harp on the fact, ‘well how did he get it?’ ‘Well if he was using drugs, he must be a loser.’ That wasn’t the story. The story was, this is what you are dealing with now. This is who you are as a person now. You are a great person. I am falling in love with you. We are going through this together.”
The two friends talked about what it meant to them personally, and how it became a big part of their lives and their relationship with each other. “I think Robin and Sonny’s love for Stone [Michael Sutton], and, of course, what they shared the most was someone that they loved the most, dying, and dying way too soon.” McCullough went on to share, “And going through the process. We were all going through this process together. It is something that will bond us for the rest of our lives. I can’t watch the Stone dying scene without crying myself. I can’t explain it. I know it is make-believe. That was just me acting. It was beautifully done.”
Benard agreed and added, “It was everything. The lighting. The music. You could do that then. Now everything is rushed.”
A New Direction
The multi-talented dynamo discussed what had drawn her into directing, something that she has been successfully doing away from the fictional city of Port Charles, for more than a decade. “Being a Pisces, like you, I am very emotional. It just became too much and I didn’t want to exploit myself that way.” She described shifting gears, “That is what took me in the direction, no pun intended, of directing. I wanted to have more agency over my life, more control.”
Her most recent stint directing, an episode of the new Fantasy Island, found her working with another daytime legend — Daytime Emmy winner Debbi Morgan (Angie Baxter Hubbard on AMC). “Debbie Morgan, who is a soap legend, is the star of my episode. So I am wearing a mask. I am wearing a shield and I am giving her direction and all of the sudden, she says, ‘Oh my god, it just hit me! You are Robin! I met you at the Emmys when you were like 7.”
The video podcast ran a little longer than most episodes (the two had a lot of ground to cover!), but fans will appreciate their trip down memory lane, the behind-the-scenes stories of the epic AIDS storyline, and anecdotes of GH’s heyday, plus the actors involved, Kimberly McCullough’s struggle with depression and anxiety, leaving Hollywood behind to enjoy the vortex of energy in Ojai, meditating with chickens, her family struggles and creating a family of her own, and much, much more. Watch the full episode here.
Follow Kimberly McCullough on Twitter @whitewatercrew, and Instagram @kimmeabreak. 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 GH spoilers, and for an in-depth look at the show’s history, click here.
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— Maurice Benard (@MauriceBenard) August 29, 2021