In Parts One, Two, and Three of our interview with Ron Hale, this legendary and outspoken actor shared early aspects of his career, as well as the rise and fall of RYAN'S HOPE. In this part, we discuss his role as broken Mike Corbin on GENERAL HOSPITAL, as well as his perception of Mike's behaviors toward his son Sonny Corinthos (Maurice Benard).
We Love Soaps: What’s interesting to me is that characters on soaps do terrible things and are quickly forgiven all the time. Mike is still on the hook for abandoning Sonny as a child all these years later. Why is that?
Ron Hale: I can be honest about that. They haven’t touched on this for a long time. Mike has really been put in the background which I do understand to a certain extent.
We Love Soaps: How do you understand it?
Ron Hale: I can’t totally go into it. But it’s the way the show is going, and that’s fine. It’s fine because I’m getting to the end of my long run in my own mind. Jill [Farren Phelps] knows this. I’m going to be moving on. Not tomorrow or anything. But I’ve had a great run there, and I’m ready to leave Southern California. I’ve gotta go find me a farm somewhere.
We Love Soaps: As a long term viewer of GH I’m sad to hear that. Mike is just this saddened broken man who I had hoped could move on and find some sort of happiness.
Ron Hale: Like we used to say in New York, “From your mouth to God’s ear.” I used to walk in the show and literally ask a producer, “I’ve been on the show seven years. Has Mike ever bedded a woman?” They’d say, “Oh yeah!” I’d say, “Oh really? When?” They’d say, “It was off camera.” They wanted the audience to imagine that he and Tammy had gone and done the deed.
We Love Soaps: In every scene Mike carries such sadness. Do you enjoy portraying that grief versus Roger’s fun?
Ron Hale: Even though he and Sonny have gotten so much better over the years, there is still that parental guilt for what he did. I mean, he gave the kid a bicycle for this birthday when he was ten years old. Sonny was teary-eyed, saying “How great, my dad bought me a bicycle.” And the next day Mike hocked it and went to the race track. Those are things that Mike could never forgive himself for. He just can’t. He abandoned that kid and his wife because he was selfish, he was a gambler, he was a boozer, and it was all about him satisfying his own cravings.
We Love Soaps: Do you think Mike deserves forgiveness?
Ron Hale: If I were Sonny, I’d say no. I think Sonny understands him now. We had a scene a couple of years ago where Sonny said something about being a parent, and being able to see how tough it is and how he could understand some of the things Mike did. In other words, you’ve got to be one before you can understand it all. But he doesn’t forgive Mike for what he did. I mean, Mike abandoned his wife who was a beautiful woman and loved him to death. She ends up marrying this ex-cop Deke who roughs Sonny up. Sonny is a 10-year-old kid watching this guy come home drunk and slap his mother around. Sonny keeps saying, “Where’s Daddy to protect me and mommy?” Mike was in a bar somewhere in Vegas and playing with dance hall girls. How can anyone forgive that?
We Love Soaps: Do you think people who make mistakes that are detrimental to their families and hurtful to themselves ever deserving of forgiveness? Could Mike ever be deserving of happiness?
Ron Hale: I think philosophically everybody makes mistakes. People should be able to forgive to a certain extent. But certain things you cannot forgive, certain behaviors you cannot forgive. Ever. I’ve had experiences in my life with friends where I have done things that have hurt them and vice versa. We have all made those kinds of mistakes. When I know this person didn’t mean to malicious, and it just happened. You’re upset for awhile, and you get over it. You hurt people that you love, and you do it without trying to do it. You do it because you’re a human being, and none of us are perfect.
But getting back to Mike, those things were so traumatic for Sonny. I envisioned this early on. I saw him as a kid, with Deke pushing him away, as he stood there and slapped his mother in the face. While little Michael Corinthos Jr. tries to stop him and Deke would swat him away like a fly. He was a helpless child watching his mother get beaten. All he prayed for was that his daddy would be there to protect him. It was unconscionable. I don’t know how Sonny could ever forgive that. Mike has tried for fifteen years in his mind to rectify the situation. At least he has tried.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Press here for the final part of our interview in which Ron reflects on his career in soaps, his future outside of the spotlight, and lessons for those starting in the business today.
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