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GH’s Maurice Benard And Vincent Irizarry On Finding Your Passion

GH Maurice Benard and Vincent IrizarryGH Maurice Benard and Vincent Irizarry

GH’s Maurice Benard welcomed Daytime Emmy-winning actor Vincent Irizarry to his video podcast State Of Mind. The two fan-favorites had much to discuss and many shared experiences to touch upon.

Vincent Irizarry Recalls The Spark That Started It All

This episode with Irizarry was recorded a couple of weeks ago, well before the news from this past weekend that he had to undergo emergency brain surgery, which was successful. Soap Hub sends good wishes to the actor for his continued recovery.

Irizarry is a familiar and beloved face to the daytime audience. He started as Brandon “Lujack” Luvonoczek on Guiding Light, moved on to Dr. Scott Clark on Santa Barbara, played Dr. David Hayward on All My Children, for which he won the Supporting Actor Daytime Emmy in 2009, and briefly brought his AMC character over to One Life to Live. Irizarry added roles on The Young and the Restless, The Bold and the Beautiful, and recently did a brief revisit of his dead character Deimos Kiriakis on Day of our Lives. But the actor shared that his first love was music.

“When I was about 11 years old, I went to a friend’s house for the first time,” recalled the actor. “He was also 11 or 12 years old, and he played on his Hammond B3 organ. And he blew me away! His feet could barely touch the peddles.” After that, Irizarry was hooked and described what happened next.

“I went home and told my parents that I wanted to study piano. My father said, ‘There is a piano teacher around the block that I have heard of that was $10 per lesson.’ He said, ‘Okay, we can do that, but you have to find a place to practice. If you really want to do it, you will find a way to make it happen.'”

It was that love for music that lead him to Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, where he discovered his next great love – acting. “I fell in love with the process. For me, it was a saving grace. To be able to express myself emotionally on that level in front of people, it opened me up. It absolutely opened me up. I just fell in love with the process of breathing life into words, putting flesh into characters, and studying pathologies. It was freaking awesome.”

From Heartbreak To Heartbreak Ridge

Irizarry fought his personal demons along the way, namely alcohol and substance abuse. After partying too much with the wrong crowd, the actor awoke one day to an epiphany. “I went home and looked at myself in the mirror and thought to myself, ‘this can’t be what I was created for. I can’t go this route. This is not going to be beneficial or healthy for me. And I know that I was created for something better than this.’ It was an epiphany,” he realized. “It was literally an eye-opening moment, and I just stopped everything. I stopped drugs. I didn’t do anything after that.”

It wasn’t long after that he found himself in the role of Fragetti in Clint Eastwood’s Heartbreak Ridge and was nominated for his first Daytime Emmy for Lujack on Guiding Light. “That was a period of youth, and now is the time to grow up. I always thought that the world doesn’t stop turning for you to get on. This is your moment.” The actor found working with the Oscar-winning director a dream. “It was probably the best summer job I have ever had, working with Clint and working on that set. He is an amazing director, an amazing person. He was so wonderful and so gracious with everybody.”

Vincent Irizarry: Devastating Loss

*Trigger warning to those reading what comes next: Frank talk and suicide.

Irizarry touched upon the loss of a dear cousin during the pandemic. “It used to be years ago you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who was not affected by cancer. Today it is suicide. I think we all know someone in our lives who have taken their life.” The actor recounted the day he lost someone close to him. “My cousin Lauren, two years ago in July, took her life. My daughter Siena was like a sister to her. She moved to Brooklyn 12 to 14 years ago and lived closed to her, and they were close, like sisters. They loved each other very much.

“And I will never forget that phone from Siena,” he continued. “She was calling from an Uber on the way [to where Lauren died]…And she was sobbing, trying to talk, and I couldn’t understand her. And I said, ‘Siena, sweetie, what are you saying? I can’t understand you. What are you saying?’ And she said, ‘Lauren killed herself.’

“It was an accumulation of several things,” he explained, recalling Lauren’s situation leading up to her death. “First of all, again, the shutdown. She was a manager and bartender in Bushwick for eight years. And she was very loved. She was loved by the people there. She loved her job, so when it shut down, she wasn’t working for months. Also, she and her boyfriend, Arthur, had been together for 13 years, and they had broken up a couple of months before that.

“So it was the financial aspect, her living situation, she was crutching on drugs and alcohol too,” he added. “And she got into a deep depression and took her life. When that happens, it is a scar, an open wound. It doesn’t even have a chance to scab up. It is an open wound that is exposed to the elements of everyday living.”

Counting His Blessings

The acclaimed duo was not at a loss for conversation, finding common ground in their histories and mutual respect. Irizarry spoke about the love and support of his family in the early days, his family origins, the first brush with the acting bug in theater, his early roles in Firefighter, Lucky Chances, and Marie. Fans won’t want to miss the seasoned actor’s behind-the-scenes stories about working with Eastwood, Sandra Bullock, Eric Braeden, Sissy Spacek, and more. A can’t miss item is Irizarry’s impression of Eastwood behind the scenes! Find out how he coped during the coronavirus lockdown and how he maintained his emotional balance through the years. Catch the full episode here.

Follow Vincent Irizarry on Twitter. If you know someone considering suicide or if you need to talk, contact NIMH or call National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

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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