General Hospital’s Maurice Benard sat down with former castmate and old friend Sean Kanan, who played AJ on the ABC soap and currently portrays Deacon on The Bold and the Beautiful, on this week’s edition of Maurice Benard’s video podcast, State Of Mind. They talked about their GH heydays, Karate Kid, Cobra Kai, sobriety, and so much more.
Sean Kanan: One Step At A Time
Kanan made his acting debut as an unnamed character in a TV series called Werewolf in 1987. Coincidentally, the lead was John J. York, who went on to play Mac Scorpio on GH. In 1993, Kanan heard from a friend, Steve Burton (Harris Michaels, Days of our Lives), about an upcoming audition for an actor to play his then-GH character, Jason’s brother, AJ Quartermaine, on the daytime drama and the rest, as they say, is history.
Fans watching this week’s episode will know they are in for a special treat as soon as the show begins, and Sean Kanan gifts his long-time friend with two extraordinary one-of-a-kind presents created by artist Gustavo Vazquez. After that special moment, the duo launched into some serious subject matters…including Kanan’s struggle with alcohol and how he overcame it.
Benard commented on his buddy’s appearance immediately. “You have been two years sober. Obviously, that’s why you look like Rock Hudson now. I could say Brad Pitt, but the way you are dressed is like an old-time movie star. And I think that has a lot to do with not just not drinking but how you feel about not drinking.”
Kanan didn’t hesitate in his response. “I agree with that. I don’t know, somewhere along the line, I made some peace with things.” The actor grew more candid. “I believe that a lot of my drinking was self-medicating. Dealing with social anxiety and things like that. The problem is that it is like holding a tiger by the tail. It works for a little bit, and then it doesn’t work.”
The four-time author spoke of finally hearing what he needed to hear, and it came from his wife, Michele. “My wife said to me, and God bless her for her patience and love, she said, ‘I have put everything into this. Please don’t tell me that I have backed the wrong horse.'” This caused Kanan to reflect on her words. “I thought to myself that I am not going to not give her the life she deserves based on my inability to get my sh*t together. It really resonated with me.”
Changes didn’t happen overnight, but as soon as he took a step in the right direction, his life began to open up. “It was like the clouds parted because once I stopped drinking, it was like the Universe opened up to me,” he said, describing how it felt at the time. “It was crazy. I think about 2020, which was such a difficult year for so many people because of the pandemic. I had just stopped [drinking] for a couple of months.”
What happened next was mindblowing. “My 2020 was doing back-to-back movies with Bruce Willis. That year was incredible. I wound up doing Cobra Kai. I got called back,” Kanan said. However, the revelations didn’t stop there. “The capper was getting called back to do The Bold and the Beautiful. It was an amazing year,” he said. “None of that would have happened if I was not changing and making that life choice.”
Just Two Guys Having A Conversation
This episode’s beauty and gift are their almost 30 years of friendship and the fact that both men have come out of their personal struggles later in life with wisdom to share. You might want to grab a pen and write down some of the wonderful affirmations that Benard and Kanan expressed as they discussed everything from Kanan’s early upbringing in Cleveland, Ohio, and soon moving to Western Pennslyvania — growing up near an Amish community — to his road to mental health.
Kanan spoke of his concerns about playing one-dimensional characters like GH’s AJ and Karate Kid III’s Mike Barnes, working with co-stars like Ricky Martin (ex-Miguel), Vanessa Marcil (ex-Brenda), and Antonio Sabato Jr. (ex-Jagger) on General Hospital, and Ralph Macchio, Bill Zapka, and Yuji Okumoto on Cobra Kai, and how his writing made him a better person.
The two discussed Benard’s daughter, Heather, traveling to Italy with Kanan and his wife for their wedding in 2012 and she still hasn’t stopped talking about it, and the actor’s many travels around the world since then. Grab your favorite beverage, a pad, and a pen, and sit down and enjoy another stellar episode of State Of Mind. Catch the full episode here.
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