I caught up with actress and producer Carolyn Hennesy for a chat on acting, film, her unusually effective method of focusing while working, southern cooking, and what it's like to plumb the depths of evil relative to her character Mother Superior in the horror flick St. Agatha, out now in theaters, On Demand and Digital HD. Check out my interview with St. Agatha's director Darren Lynn Bousman here.

Hennesy is known most for her roles on General Hospital, True Blood, Cougar Town, and Disney's Jessie. She again brings her A-Game to the role of the sadistic Mother Superior in St. Agatha. Mother Superior's stated goal in her renegade convent in late 1950s rural Georgia is to provide a healthy and safe place for young, unwed mothers like penniless and pregnant grifter Mary (Sabrina Kern).

Yet, what we see throughout proves the convent's moral depravity and the depths of pure sadism that Hennesy so eloquently plumbs with her character. She truly does make such an evil character so fascinating to watch. This factor – coupled with Bousman’s razor sharp directorial vision – makes it impossible to look away from St. Agatha, even in a few parts where I wanted to. As I learned in my chat with Bousman, this is another mark of great horror.

Catch St. Agatha now in theaters, On Demand and Digital HD and enjoy the interview below.

Hello Carolyn.

Hello Wes.

How are you?

How are you?

Oh, just great.

I'm super.



Getting right into it, what was it that initially attracted you to St. Agatha?

I was offered it. I had a coffee meeting with Darren Bousman, and he said after about 10 minutes, "I would like you to handle the Superior." And I said, "Fine." Because I knew that I would be in very good hands with this horror icon.


So all trust. All trust, and all love to Darren. Yeah. He told me a little bit about what she was and is and does, and I leapt because it's the first ... It's my first ... I think it's my first horror movie. No, it's not my first horror movie, but it's my first star, lead role in a horror film. And being directed by him, you know, most people ain't that lucky.

Well, there you go.

Their first, real first horror.

That's fantastic and you know he's quite the world builder too, if you look at those other movies like Repo!, for instance.

Oh yeah.

It's just amazing.

Oh yeah. Oh yeah. His vision is extraordinary no matter what piece he's working on at the time.

(L-R) Carolyn Hennesy as Mother Superior and Sabrina Kern in the horror film “ST. AGATHA” an Uncork’d Entertainment release. Photo courtesy of Uncork’d Entertainment.

Definitely. And isn't it a kind of a related question there, what was it like getting into her head space? That is, the Mother Superior's?

Terrifying and delightful because you get to plumb depths with Mother Superior, for a character like Mother Superior, who is evil with no humor and complete justification in her own mind, for everything that she does. Depths that you cannot plumb in polite society. You have to figure out ways to get there and more importantly, you have to leave a trail of breadcrumbs to get yourself psychologically out of it.

I can imagine.

And that was a challenge, and it was fabulously fun. And it was entertaining for myself. There was a lot of introspection, because ... I had to try. And as I told my therapist, I found it incredibly easy to get into her head, which I don't know exactly what that says about me. It was also kind of easy to get out too.

It says you're very capable. I definitely ...

There's a lot there.

You know, the role kind of reminded me of Jessica Lange in the second season of American Horror Story, but a little more evil.

A little bit. Little bit. Oh, she ... Yes. And a little more, I think hands on, if that's the right words.

Oh, absolutely.

Thank you.

Oh, thank you, and it was very entertaining too.

A tremendous compliment for me, by the way. Thank you so much for saying that.

Oh, my pleasure just to see it. Let's see ... What were the challenges like? Were there more beyond getting into it, and leaving those bread crumbs, like you said?

There were technical challenges, because Madison, Georgia, at that time of year was bitingly cold, and we were in the one home, our friends in Madison, Georgia, there's no electricity, no heat.

Oh, wow.

So ... Yes. So, we were all kind of huddled together in a little herd of ... A mass of black and white robes kind of huddled together for warmth, because this was a ... This is an antebellum home that I think was built in 1839, and had fallen into disrepair. So, no heat, no electricity.

Dang. Yeah.

We had to use a genny to power some space heaters and we kind of kept warm that way. Other challenges? No. I would've said the canine, but I happened to make friends with a Madison resident who took a shine to our production company, and kept us in fried chicken and fried okra and beef brisket, and cheese grits, and biscuits for much of the run.

This conversation's making me hungry now.

Trust me, I'm thinking about it. I'm thinking about it. Yeah, yeah.


Long time residents in Madison, Georgia who helped us mix it. It was wonderful.

That's wonderful. I love good southern cooking. Did any funny or memorable moments from the behind the scenes that stuck out in your mind?

Oh, gosh. I can't really think of any, only because, even though there was a lot of laughter on the sets, and we had to keep it light, otherwise we would all have lost our minds, with the gore and the horror. There wasn't a tremendous amount of joke playing, or slip ups, or ... You know, no one fell down the stairs. [Laughs]


I just know that Darren found it tremendously amazing that in between takes, I brought out my coloring books, because that's how I kind of keep my focus in head space. I brought out my adult coloring books, and I was coloring in between takes.

He'd walk over to me and say, "Carolyn, in this scene, I really need you to ..." And I'd be sort of coloring, and I'd go, "Mm-hmm (affirmative), mm-hmm (affirmative)," hearing every word that he said and trying this, and focusing, and taking it in while I was shading something, and shows the peach and plum. I know he found that amusing.

[Laughs] Very nice. That's an interesting method. I can't say I've ever talked to an actor who uses that as their way to focus.

Carolyn Hennesy as Mother Superior in the horror film “ST. AGATHA” an Uncork’d Entertainment release. Photo courtesy of Uncork’d Entertainment..

You know who I got that from? I'll tell you who I got that from. I was directed by a guy named Ted Lange, and Ted Lange played Isaac the bartender on The Love Boat. He's turned into this brilliant director. When he was directing me in this series, he would color in between takes… and I started doing that.

Well, there you go. And getting into the last question because of the time crunch ... What's next for you?

I have got a project coming up. It's about as far away from St. Agatha as you can get. But it will make use of my aerial trapeze skills. So there ya go. Watch this space.

Follow Carolyn on Twitter here.

Carolyn Hennesy as Diane during the character's first appearence on GENERAL HOSPITAL.