Maurice Benard Opens Up About Moving Beyond ‘General Hospital’ To Play John Gotti In Lifetime Movie

Maurice Bernard appears at the premiere for the Lifetime movie about John Gotti.
Jesse Grant / Getty Images for Lifetime

Maurice Benard has made his living playing the suave gangster Sonny Corinthos on the soap opera General Hospital, and now he will try his hand at playing one of the most notorious real-life gangsters of all time.

Benard stars as John Gotti in the Lifetime original movie Victoria Gotti: My Father’s Daughter, which premieres on February 9. The actor opened up about the differences in the roles, noting that Gotti is nothing like Corinthos.

“[Sonny] is nothing like John Gotti,” Maurice told Hollywood Life. “He’s calm. He’s operating second gear. I was operating with John Gotti at fourth and fifth gear. They’re different. Even though they’re both gangsters, and they both love their families, it was totally different.”

Maurice, who is no stranger to playing the criminal type, said the role of John Gotti had “an element of easy” because he is so used to playing gangsters. There was plenty of work to put in, including playing Gotti between the ages of 20 and 60 and being forced to learn a Bronx accent in just two days.

But Benard said the opportunity to play John Gotti was one he couldn’t turn down, so he put in the work and landed the role. It has been a boon for Lifetime as well, with Benard’s role in the movie attracting plenty of attention by tapping into General Hospital‘s wide fan base.

Benard said after the work it took to get the role, he knew he would need to approach the role differently than the relatively laid-back atmosphere of General Hospital.

“It was difficult but exhilarating,” he said. “It was hard. I could never screw around. I always goof around on set, and this was not like that. I was really focused.”

The movie focuses on the relationship between John Gotti and his daughter, Victoria. Maurice Benard said he hoped to capture their dynamic and the aspirations John had for his daughter — even if the elder Gotti didn’t want to show it.

“He wanted her to be somebody,” Benard said in an interview with Parade. “And she would fight back with him, which I think he liked, but he was old-school, so he wasn’t going to let her know it. But deep inside he’s like, ‘Yeah, that’s my daughter.’ ”

Those who want to see Maurice Benard as John Gotti can tune in to Victoria Gotti: My Father’s Daughter, which premieres Saturday on Lifetime at 8 p.m.