General Hospital's Maurice Benard Has One Stark Difference From Sonny Corinthos

Sonny Corinthos is perhaps one of the most iconic characters in "General Hospital" history. Portrayed by Maurice Benard since the character's debut in 1993, both Sonny and Benard have become synonymous with the soap. He's been part of some of the soap's most famous storylines, including his relationship and many weddings to on-again off-again love Carly Corinthos (Laura Wright) and his transparency about his mental health.

Benard has become famous for his portrayal of the mobster over Sonny's 30 years on the show and has had time to shape the character to his own liking during that time. Even though there are certain traits of Benard's personality that have been infused into Sonny Corinthos, there is one significant difference between the two that Benard revealed in a video on his Instagram account. In a twist that "General Hospital" fans did not see coming, Maurice Benard shared that he is, in fact, not Italian like Sonny Corinthos at all: Benard is Spanish, not Italian.

Benard's true heritage has come as a surprise

On October 6, Maurice Benard posted a video on his Instagram account to commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month, which celebrates and honors Hispanic and Latino cultures from September 15 to October 15. In the reel, he explained his heritage and joked about why everyone assumes he's Italian like Sonny. "I am full-blooded Spanish," he shared. "Nobody really knows that because I've been playing an Italian gangster for about 30 years."

This video is not the first time Benard's commented on his heritage and how it clashes with Sonny's Italian persona. In an interview with Soaps She Knows, Benard joked about not knowing what Sonny's ethnicity was when he debuted as the character, and how he fell into playing up his Italian roots.

"When I first started playing Sonny, I didn't know if he was half-Greek or half-Cuban or what, I just played him Italian and now everybody thinks he's Italian," he told the outlet.

Benard and Sonny have similarities, too

Maurice Benard might not share Sonny's Italian flair, but there is one part of his character that Benard can relate to: Sonny's diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Benard shared his diagnosis of bipolar disorder publicly in 2000, but waited until 2006 to suggest to the writers of "General Hospital" that Sonny should also be diagnosed as bipolar on the show. The transparency about both Benard's and Sonny's mental health has opened up a whole new conversation on the topic, especially regarding representation of mental illness in the media. In an interview with Soaps She Knows, Benard responded to a question about the pros and cons of playing a bipolar character while also experiencing the same illness.

Benard said, "The benefit is you don't have to method act. It's pretty much written right there for you. The drawback is that sometimes stuff can get to you. A storyline can be two or three months [long] and at the end you might start hearing your mom and dad on the set talking."

Even though the storylines sometimes may hit a little too close to home for Benard, being able to represent mental illness on a soap opera has been important to him and something he's been proud to share with the fans.