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GH’s Maurice Benard & Charles Shaughnessy On Spotting A Mental Health Crisis

The two Port Charles bad guys broach a lot of topics on this week’s State Of Mind.

Maurice Benard and Charles Shaughnessy General Hospital

What happens when the two baddest residents of Port Charles sit down for an honest conversation about mental health and much, much more? Fireworks for daytime fans! General Hospital’s Maurice Benard and Charles Shaughnessy get to know each other better on this week’s episode of his video podcast, State Of Mind.

Maurice Benard And Charles Shaughnessy: Spotting A Mental Health Crisis

It is no secret that Maurice Benard (Sonny Corinthos) started his video podcast channel, State Of Mind, on YouTube to highlight the many guises that mental health takes on and bring them out into the spotlight to help others. But as his conversation with Daytime Emmy-winning actor Charles Shaughnessy (Victor Cassadine) proved, you don’t have to bear signs of mental illness to spot it in a friend.

“I have been very close to someone who, for the last year and a half, has struggled with unbelievable depression,” Shaughnessy shared. “Not able to get out of bed, not able to speak, just a black hole that they are deep, deep, down in. There is no kind of, ‘Oh, come on and just shake it off’ or ‘Think of something nice’ or ‘You know what? Why don’t you watch a nice TV show? It might just cheer you up.’ It is so beyond that. It is so past that. It is so genetic. It is part of your DNA. Something going on with your chemistry.” 

He was able to see his friend come out on the other side. “I also saw, at the same time, how changing environment and circumstances, really good therapy, talking to someone, and the right medication…it just turned this person around.”

The actor shared his friend’s progress. “Not just functioning, but loving life right now. So I am very aware of the issues involved. It is like having a disease. Like you get cancer because your genetics is wrong. Some gene turns on that shouldn’t turn on. It is the same with any kind of health, whether it is physical or mental.”

Shaughnessy gained an understanding of mental health that he didn’t have growing up in London in the 50s and 60s. “It wasn’t talked about,” he recalled. “You were sent to the back or to the front [of the classroom], so they could keep an eye on you because you were being bad or naughty. Or you just wanted attention? Whole generations of kids who were dealing with ADHD or bipolar or early schizophrenia or all those mental issues were just told they were misbehaving.”

Charles Shaughnessy: The Sitcom That Almost Wasn’t

The British thespian talked about his early stint on the daytime serial Days of our Lives as the beloved character, ISA agent Shane Donovan. After logging in years as a Salem resident, he was ready to spread his acting wings while he still could. Still, he was hesitant when the pilot script for The Nanny came along.

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“My agent said, ‘This is the best script we have read. You should definitely think about it.’ So I read it and said, ‘Okay, let’s do it.’” The actor recalled what happened next. “I did the pilot, and everyone knew that it was one of the best pilots I had read or seen. It just did exactly what a pilot is meant to do. In 23 minutes, it told the whole story, set up the characters, and set up the chemistry between all the different couples. Great supporting cast. It was just a perfect pilot.”

It didn’t make a splash until it landed in the Monday night slot of the summer reruns, and then the little-show-that-could grabbed its audience. “It was successful but not as successful as it has been since.” He admitted, “It is still going. We didn’t know how much of an afterlife it was going to have. I don’t think anyone had any idea that it would go around the world. I mean, it is in every country.”

Charles Shaughnessy fans won’t want to miss a minute of this episode. The talkative duo covered his entertainment pedigree, growing up in ground zero of the swinging sixties on Kings Road in London, and the Beatles, the benefits of attending boarding school, turning down a law degree by picking his ‘tribe’ among artists and maniacs.

The actor shared that his first TV gig as an actor was on General Hospital as Holly Scorpio’s cousin Alistair, and how that came about, how confidence and ingenuity won him the part and led him to his long-term role on Days of our Lives, more about his Nanny experience and working with Fran Drescher, and the duo discuss working together on his current reign on General Hospital as the villain Victor Cassadine, and working with his new tribe on the cast of GH. Watch the full episode here.

Fans can follow Charles Shaughnessy on Twitter and Instagram. Follow Maurice Benard on Twitter, Instagram, or State of Mind. If you are struggling with Mental Illness or know someone who is reach out to NAMI.org.

General Hospital airs weekdays on ABC. For an in-depth look at the show’s history, click here.

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