Molly C. Quinn
Actress & producer Molly C. Quinn might not share immediate similarities with her character in the indie-horror Agnes but like any good storyteller, Molly can find the truth even in a fictional tale.
When watching early interviews of actress Molly C. Quinn, it’s obvious she has always had a passion for telling stories. After having her big break & becoming known for her role on the hit show Castle, she speaks to each interviewer with equal parts naiveté and excitement; ready to embrace Hollywood and take it over by storm. Now, over a decade and a lot of growth later, she’s doing just that with the creation of her production company QWGmire and the company’s new film, Agnes. In the indie-horror, the moment you think you know where the film is headed, it does a shift in a completely new direction. Although the story is fictional and the genre is horror, the themes flickering throughout the film — possession, grief, and the feeling of being isolated — are some that many, including Molly, can relate to and see in their past.
1883’s Kelsey Barnes caught up with Molly and talked all things Agnes & QWGmire, embracing the pain and loss that comes with change, and why her Castle mentor is the reason she got the courage to start her own production company.
Molly! First, I want to send a big congrats to you & your team for the Tribeca Film Festival premiere! How exciting.
Yes! It’s the most exciting thing to happen to me! [Laughs]
Especially after such an awful year, this is some great news.
We worked really hard on this movie. It’s an indie so money was tight and then the pandemic happened so we were editing virtually between Oklahoma and Los Angeles which was crazy. It’s so nice to… I guess the word is validation. It’s nice to get validation for the movie, but also for myself and my production company. This doesn’t happen — good stuff doesn’t happen! [Laughs] You don’t get good news most of the time in this industry, so it’s just so exciting. I’m going to hold onto this and run with it as long as I can. It feels like the biggest exhale and the greatest gift.
Earlier today, I was actually watching some of your older interviews from 2009…
It was lovely! You were just so excited to be in Hollywood and at that point, you were discussing how much you’ve grown in regards to being an actress and how your friends were all growing, too. That was in 2009 so I’d like to hear your thoughts on how you’ve grown since then.
Oh, little Molly… She didn’t know what was coming. There were a lot of things that have happened in the 10+ years since then. The biggest is that I’m four years sober from alcohol, which was a very big deal and really impacted my work and my personal life very positively. On the other hand, it also rubbed a lot of people in my family the wrong way — it was not accepted within my biological family structure which caused a big break. When some people see you make changes, they can only see it as a reflection of them when, in reality, it has nothing to do with them.
That’s something deeply prevalent in the family structure and dynamic; they somewhat see you making changes and think, “She thinks we didn’t raise her right!” which causes an internal struggle and they shut down.
Yeah. For me, I just knew I was making bad choices when I was working and I wanted so badly to be healthy. To have that negative reaction and have it not be celebrated… It was a period where I grew a lot and I processed my family differently which everyone goes through. You begin to see your parents as people instead of parents. Sometimes that’s lovely, sometimes it means you’re completely branching off. For me, it was the latter. I’m proud of myself for all of it, though. I’m in love — I’m engaged — and he’s one of my production partners and we work together and have two beautiful dogs!
I was going to mention how much you post about your dogs! I love it. I love the need to share with the world how cute your pets are.
Right?! It’s about sharing the joy. See how happy this makes me, you can have some of this happiness, too. That’s the mindset I’m in now. In 2009, especially, I was still very religious and went through a lot of things that caused me to be agnostic but still deeply obsessed with religion, which I think is reflected in Agnes. I’m getting a bit emotional thinking about it, but that little girl had a lot of guts and I hope she’d be proud of what I’ve done with my time so far.
I’m positive she would be proud. I feel like when you’ve spent such formative years on-screen while dealing with a lot of stuff behind the screen, you’ve been able to come out of everything with this bird’s eye perspective on everything; you’re looking down and seeing how you’ve gone from point A to point B and that’s a beautiful thing. I wasn’t going to bring up your journey with abstaining from alcohol but I know you’re vocal about it online and celebrate those milestones — people need to see those big moments, too, not just the awards and such.
I agree. There’s a funny stigma to admitting that something didn’t work for you and I’m very much for getting rid of that. The thing I’m most proud of, above everything, is becoming sober. I’m not advocating for it for everyone; I think if you’re able to have a drink, that’s wonderful. Making that choice for me improved my life so much to the point where I don’t care about my birthday — I care about my sobriety birthday! I want all of the presents on that day because that was a lot of hard work to make that decision… It’s hard to choose yourself over other things. Making any change, even when it’s a positive one, is very difficult. Change and pain exist in the same part of our brain so every time you make a change, it hurts. It’s easier to follow an abusive pattern because even though it’s abusive, you’re used to it. Becoming a different person is a process but it’s been worth it.
It has been worth it — look at you now! You’ve started QWGmire, your own production company. What made you want to start your own production company? I think it’s admirable to want to help other promising and rising writers, directors, and anyone else trying to make good work and tell great stories.
You mentioned the bird’s eye view aspect and that’s exactly what I love about producing. The first time I saw a woman in that position was Laurie Zaks during Castle. She handled it so well and cared about all of the actors and crew. Whenever I would talk to her, it was like speaking with an Oracle; she knew what was coming and what they were planning so far in advance. As an actor, I liked making my part of the puzzle but I wondered what it would be like to be part of the larger picture. It’s a dream to be able to call her a mentor.
It’s great that you get to call the shots, too.
Yeah, it’s great to be able to see what we’re starting with and what we want to capture and try to get as close to that thing as possible. I don’t look at things that go wrong as obstacles, I see them as opportunities. I realized very quickly there’s no time to dwell on obstacles; you have limited time, limited money, and you need to get it finished. It tends to work out where those little bumps in the road take you in another direction that can be wonderful if you trust them. There’s a scene in Agnes that was written as separate scenes, but we were running out of time and we only had Sean Gunn for another three more hours and I had to pull everyone together and make a fast decision. As soon as we did it and even now when I watch it on-screen, I think it always should’ve been written this way! The whole dynamic and feeling of the scene changes; it’s all contained right there and it makes it more intimate and scarier at the same time.
Let’s chat Agnes — I love that Movie Maker deemed it “Not your average exorcism.” Can you tell me a bit about how your team first discovered the project?
We saw Climate of the Hunter by Mickey Reece and we were so impressed by what he created on a shoestring budget with this amazing crew he surrounded himself with. We wanted to use the group he had put together and just give him a couple more tools to work with. We read Agnes when it was an early draft and horror is our favourite genre. You think it’s just a possession movie, but it turns into a different movie; the character makes this mess and tries to run away, which was intriguing to us. It’s a movie that has multiple universes within it, which you don’t see a lot of in horror. The entire cast & crew were all such legends; everyone gave their heart and souls to the movie.
Did you decide right away that you wanted to act in it as well as produce?
It was at the same time! As a producer, as an actor, and just as a film watcher — I love ensemble casts and I love journey films. I like seeing characters travel through this experience and see it progress. So, with Agnes, this is everything I wanted to make and act in.
As an actress, this is such a dynamic role for you. I feel like I haven’t seen you in anything like it before.
It was a huge step outside of my comfort zone. A lot of energy went into it, especially doing double-duty when you’re both acting and producing.
It’s like turning a switch on — time to be a producer for five minutes and then going back into acting mode.
That’s such a good point because when you’re in the zone of doing an important piece that takes a lot of energy, like creating a leading character, you also have to remember you’re getting shot list done and making sure you aren’t running out of time and making sure all of the actors felt comfortable, too. You want to keep the energy up despite having your creative and business hat on. It was my first time combining those roles and I realized I’m much more capable than I ever thought I was, and that’s a lovely feeling.
Following the recent premiere at the Tribeca film festival, Agnes is going to have its international premiere at the Fantasia Festival in Montreal! Both are huge festivals to have your work showcased in and I know Forbes called it a must-see film. What does this mean to you as someone who just started their company in 2019?
It’s gratifying and it’s humbling. Positive reinforcement helps because you feel like you’re doing something right and it makes you feel safe enough to keep moving forward. I’m just so honoured. It makes me excited to start shooting our next film, which we just got fully financed and we’ll be going into pre-production in August.
Congrats! That’s amazing.
Thank you! I’m excited to work from this strong base that we’ve been lucky to have and take that to the next movie.
For someone who would love to get into film production but don’t know how to start, what advice would you give to them?
I would say look at what’s around you because you don’t have to be in LA to make projects. We live in such an amazing age where you can make your own content, so I say start there and use the tools that you have. The Spielberg’s of the world say they just grabbed a camcorder and were shooting stuff in their backyard when they were kids, so why can’t you? You really have to do it and just keep doing it and it’ll get you somewhere.
Interview by Kelsey Barnes
Photography by The Riker Brothers