Soap Opera Digest: Perfomer of the week (January 16, 1996) Maurice Benard (Sonny, GH)

The descent of a popular character is not usually something to cheer about. But Sonny's downward spiral on General Hospital has been absolutely terrific - thanks to Maurice Benard's riveting portrayal of the complicated mobster.

It started with Stone's death. While other characters sobbed openly as Stone's health declined, Sonny held his emotions in check. When he walked in on Robin cradling Stone's lifeless body, he simply said, "He's dead." It was more of a statement than a question. Throughout the funeral arrangements and memorial service - and even later in the eerie quiet of the penthouse - Sonny kept his stoic demeanor, except for the glazed look in his eyes. He looked like he had been kicked in the stomach, which is exactly how real people look when they've lost a loved one.

We felt Stone's death more through Sonny than anybody else. And as Sonny's problems mounted, we found ourselves rooting for him and against the police; strong testament to the sympathy engendered by this remarkable actor.

Maurice Bernard is one actor (Anthony Geary as Luke is another one) who never has a false moment on-screen. As a result of Bernard's unique performance, we are willing to wait longer than usual for Sonny to fight his way back and find happiness again. After all, the miserable his character's life becomes, the more fascinating Bernard's portrayal becomes.