September 5th, 2008  |  Leave a comment

THE CAROLYN HENNESY INTERVIEW – GENERAL HOSPITAL

Hennessey-Main.jpgMICHAEL:

You have just released your first book, “Pandora Gets Jealous” and it’s follow–up, “Pandora Gets Vain”.  Many in the soap industry seemed to be caught so pleasantly by surprise by yet another artistic side to you.  So, when did Carolyn Hennesy get the writing bug?

CAROLYN:

It had been ‘noodling’ around in my head. I had always written, but it really hit me when I was taking a workshop class, and I was working so much at the same time. I was sort of the dilettante in the class. I wasn’t very serious about it, but I was working on a series of short stories of misunderstood women in fiction…kind of like, the story from, “Wicked”. They were very short stories, and one of these stories was based on and about Pandora! I thought, “Wouldn’t it be interesting, if she was a 13-year-old girl with all of these foibles and flaws and insecurities who finds this box and takes it to school for, “Show and Tell”, and all hell breaks loose. I read it in class, and a gentlemen happened to be visiting the class that day, and he looked at me and said, “I can sell that for you tomorrow!” and everyone else in class went, “What?, Carolyn, the least prolific of all of us?” This visitor turned out to a very prolific writer from Ireland named, Michael Scott. He called me one day, and said, “I had been thinking about your story and it’s a novel for young adults. No, wait. It’s seven novels. Write a thousand words a day and in six weeks you will have your first novel. Go!”

Pandora.jpgMICHAEL:

Weren’t you terrified when you heard this?

CAROLYN:

He also padded it with, “This will be life changing.” That’s the thing that spurred me on, and he threw down a gauntlet, “A thousand words a day.” I said to myself, “I can do a thousand words a day.” (which is basically four pages a day) I worked for a few days on the synopsis of the first book, and I was half way through the synopsis of the second book, and I said, “Enough is enough”,  and I just wrote the first book, which is “Pandora Gets Jealous”.  Michael then told me that, “Every evil that comes out of this box needs it’s own book.”  So suddenly it went from three novels to seven and I said, “Bring it on.”

MICHAEL:

And you obviously incorporated into the writing, that amazing humor and wit you possess. Were you confident it would translate to the page?

CAROLYN:

From knowing that I had things to say, and that knowing my voice as an actor is a very particular and unique voice, why would that not translate? I can bring a humor and wry piece of the world and perspective, and it can have a purpose. Writing these books and realizing that if these were going to be novels for “tween” girls then basically, if you ask my husband on any given day, I still am a 13 year-old girl. I then thought, ”What do I want to say to the 13-year-old still inside of me?  What do I want to say to the 13-year-olds that are out there being raised with entitlement and no responsibility?”  This was my shot to tell a fabulous story of a tremendous myth.  Let’s face it… no one was back there then, so it could have happened this way! (She laughs)

MICHAEL:

Why were you so drawn to Greek Mythology? When did this all begin for you?

CAROLYN:

From the time I was in the fifth grade. Mrs. Ebert, this crazy, fresh out of the 60’s bleach blond dingbat genius, was teaching Greek Mythology. She was not politically correct by today’s standards. She would talk about the Greek myths: Zeus’s infidentily, who was sleeping with who, the pettiness and the selfishness of the gods. I was riveted, and it was magical, and I was hooked from then on.

MICHAEL:

Where can your fans buy “Pandora Gets Jealous”?

CAROLYN:

You can get this anywhere. It’s on http://amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com and any big book store to any smaller youth book stores. And book two, “Pandora Gets Vain” just got released. I will be sent out on book tours very shortly. So, I am looking forward to meeting the public!

MICHAEL:

When you finally saw the first book, hard copy in print, what were your emotions?

Pandora2.jpgCAROLYN:

I wept. I cried buckets when I put the final period on the final sentence of the first draft. I looked at it and went, “Oh my God!” I was a woman, who was only going to be an actress and a good one, and there you go, and I wrote a novel. I had the word by the tail. Then when my editor showed me the book jacket, I sobbed with tears of joy. Then when I got the hard cover, it’s like holding a baby. It’s the closet I am going to get to having one, and I did it!

MICHAEL:

What was your husband Donald’s reaction to the birth of your new bundle of joy?

CAROLYN:

My husband cried along with me, and we danced around, and he took pictures of me holding the box of books.

MICHAEL:

What did your co-stars have to say about this over at “GH”?

CAROLYN:

When it first came out, I gave Maurice Benard (Sonny), Steve Burton (Jason), Megan Ward (Kate), and Laura Wright (Carly) who all have kid’s, copies of the book. They were like, “Oh yeah, that’s really cool,” and I was like, “just give it to your kids!” A lot of the cast were really surprised and sweet, especially Megan Ward.

MICHAEL:

Megan and you seem to work so well together, how is she to work with?

CAROLYN:

When Megan and I are on the set, it’s such a joy. She is a queen to work with. She knows her stuff and she will tell you, that she strategizes and maps out scenes. She knows every beat of every scene. She is terrific.

MICHAEL:

Did you expect Diane to continue to be part of the “GH” canvas for this long?

Maurice.jpgCAROLYN:

Did I expect it to go this long? Are you kidding me? I was still bringing in my own wardrobe the first week. There are people’s names I still don’t know, because I never thought I would be on “GH” this long.  Mark Teschner, the casting director, called me and said, “I have two days work for you on General Hospital.”  Mark was a good friend and he said, “You will be working with Sonny Corinthos.” I then said, “Who is Sonny Corinthos?” I had not followed “GH” for many years. Well, I quickly learned who Sonny Corinthos was. I think that might have been the thing that saved me, because I had not walked around on my first day going, “Oh, it’s Maurice Benard, the hottest actor in daytime.” (The other being Steve Burton) So I didn’t know any better, and so here comes this dark eyed “demi-god” walking toward me. I didn’t know that if anybody looks at him wrong in Port Charles he has them killed. I just gave it as good as I got!

MICHAEL:

Did Maurice try to throw you off as a test to hang with the mob boys?

CAROLYN:

He did just a touch. He put his hand over his mouth mumbling, and I thought, “I don’t know if my cue line is in there anywhere, but you give me a pause and I am taking it!” I barreled right through and I could see he thought, “Here is someone I can play with.”

MICHAEL:

What about Steve Burton, he is very funny in his own right?

CAROLYN:

Steve is very dry and hysterical, but I just assumed Steve was coming at me with love and I was taking all his stuff. He is very sardonic and I assumed none of it was personal. He began to ease up, and lighten up. When he knew I was around for the long haul, and had his best interest at heart, I think, finally, the two of us made each other look good in scenes.

MICHAEL:

You are able to hold your own with the biggest soap powerhouses!

CAROLYN:

Again, I think I did not realize the power, or magnitude, or scope of what I was stepping into. Any hint of intimation and Diane would have been out the door.

MICHAEL:

What do you think of Diane’s romance with Max? Do you ever wish she could be paired with a more dramatic character on the show?

CAROLYN:

I think I undertand what they are trying to do with Max. There are a number of characters on the show that Diane could have been paired with as a true long lasting love interest. Max would not have been the first thought that comes to mind. They are trying to show a human side to her and Max is somebody who forces Diane to relax. She is so tightly wound with Sonny, Jason, and Spinelli, and Kate, that she loves coming home to Max, because she doesn’t have to think anymore. It doesn’t have to be an intellectual discussion, and her brain can relax. That is why Max is a good choice for her right now.

VincentPastore.jpgMICHAEL:

And now Vincent Pastore (Ex- Big Pussy, “The Sopranos”) is on is way to Port Charles as Max’s father. Are you looking forward to that?

CAROLYN:

We start that on the 15th of September. Well, I don’t want to spoil anything, but apparently he takes quite a shine to Diane. The story is, that Max has written to his father that he is the big mob kingpin! So Sonny and Jason, out of the decency of their own hearts are going to act like that’s the way it is and I think Diane will do that as well. I can’t wait to work with Vincent Pastore.

MICHAEL:

Do you ever have trouble with the legalese in the scripts playing a lawyer?

CAROLYN:

It’s not usually a problem with me and this is due to my husband. I get the scripts enough ahead of time that my husband goes over them with me. Bob Guza (head writer, “GH”) rights logically. So the law follows a linear pattern and if you just follow the pattern…you can get it. Sometimes during the trial of Jason Morgan vs. Lorenzo Alcazar, I did trip up every once in awhile…but not so often.

MICHAEL:

What happens when one “flubs”? Do you break character and break out in laughter?

CAROLYN:

I try to make it funny, but I usually just fall on my sword and go, “I’m sorry. I’m bad. My problem. Let’s go back.”

MICHAEL:

When you think back, what do you consider great moments or scenes for you as an actress, when playing Diane?

CAROLYN:

One moment certainly, was when Diane was talking about her father in the Father’s Day episode. It was gut-wrenching. It was hard in rehearsal. I revealed in that, that my father had died of cancer when I was a very young woman, and that we never had gotten to know each other. We had danced around it, and this happened with my own father.  He passed away when I was 19. I never had time with my father and either did Diane. So I was able to tap into that.  It was very rewarding, what I had been feeling. It was a killer.  Another time, when I walked away from the studio, going, “Well this was more fun than anybody should be allowed to have!”, was the scene in the biker bar with all the bikers, and then when Alexis and Diane are there on their own. That was hysterically funny and a lot of fun to play.

Nancy-Carol.jpgMICHAEL:

How is working with Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis)? Alexis and Diane are like the newest “supercouple’ in daytime!

CAROLYN:

She is great, and we have a lot of fun.

MICHAEL:

What would you love to see Diane get to do in a storyline that she has not done yet?

CAROLYN:

I would love to see Diane in a tremendous amount of danger… having to use her wits with Alexis, or to see her in a life or death situation where she has to go undercover. If she gets caught, it’s curtains for Diane. I would love to see that. I would like to delve into her past. Diane is so concerned with Sonny revealing his infidentlity with Carly to Kate, that something has to be behind that.

MICHAEL:

She does seem to be frantically concerned with this secret coming out!

CAROLYN:

She is uber-concerned. I choose to believe, Diane was cheated on, or she saw the effects of her mother and father cheating on each other. It was so devastating, and it was so horrific for her that she is having trouble with this secret. This continues with her until Sonny finally puts an end to it.

MICHAEL:

I always thought, perhaps deep down, Diane had a “thing” for Sonny?

CAROLYN:

It’s interesting, but Diane sees Sonny absolutely for what he is, and that kind of power attracts her. She sees through the murky depths underneath Sonny, and I think becoming involved romantically with Sonny would be the death of Diane. She would be more interested in Ric or Luke although… can I tell you how much the fans would scream about that?

MICHAEL:

Why?

CAROLYN:

Luke is Tracy’s! Hands off! I have been told even on my own message boards: “We love you Diane, but stay away from Luke.”

Max-Carol.jpgMICHAEL:

How is working with Derek Cheetwood (Max)?

CAROLYN:

Working with Derek is heaven. He is a great big teddy bear, and we will embellish the scripts with our little Max and Diane touches, and he goes right along with it. He is fantastic.

MICHAEL:

If Steve Burton and Maurice Benard should depart “GH” when their contracts expire what would become of Diane?

CAROLYN:

Well, I don’t think she could become a public defender because the money is not good enough. If the Karpov’s keep hanging around she could go work for the Russian Mob. She certainly can go into business for herself. Does Diane have to be a lawyer? Could she open a smoky jazz club on the lower east side of Port Charles given an alternative? Picture it…”Diane’s smoky jazz club”, and every once in awhile she takes to the mic herself.

MICHAEL:

Does it bother Diane that she defends a mob guy like Sonny Corinthos?

CAROLYN:

It does not bother her, because every one deserves the best legal defense possible, and Diane considers herself the best legal defense possible.

MICHAEL:

How about working with Sarah Brown, as Claudia from that other mob family, the Zacchara’s?

CAROLYN:

She is lovely. We have the same hair stylist so we chat. (She laughs) She is an intense woman and passionate.

MICHAEL:

You come from a very famous show business family.  So what journey did you take to realize your dreams and ambitions as an actress?

CAROLYN:

My father, Dale Hennesy was an Oscar winning production designer.  My aunt is the actress, Barbara Rush, or as I fondly call her, “Auntie Babs”.   I grew up at an early age knowing what I wanted to do.  I studied in London, went to the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, and then hit the pavement and worked at almost every small theatre in Los Angeles. I started with small roles, then movie roles, and then a point came where you could tell, that if I got on a sitcom as a recurring character it would be cancelled shortly there after! (She laughs) They would love me so much that they would want to bring me back as a regular… and the show is cancelled. Then a few years ago, I discovered a bent for comedy.

MICHAEL:

You are so innately funny. Why did it take so long to tap into your, “inner comedian”?

CAROLYN:

Because… I was very serious. I was the next Meryl Streep, who is still around, so by the way there is no next. I was passionate and intense, and serious, and then a friend of mine and I were taking class at the Groundlings Theatre, (which is known for improvisational comedy) and I had such a great time.  She went, “You really have an innate sense of humor.”  That’s when I went, “OK. Hello funny stuff!”

MICHAEL:

Was Diane then supposed to be a comedic role on “GH” or did you change her?

Hennessey-Orange.jpgCAROLYN:

I changed it. They wanted a lawyer, and somehow I may have smirked or clucked or cocked my head a certain way and Bob Guza caught it and went, “Oh? What’s this? There is more to Diane than meets the eye!”  They are now allowing me to make Diane, wry, sophisticated, funny, witty and urbane. I took it from there.

MICHAEL:

Were you disappointed at this year’s Daytime Emmy nominations, when you did not make the final cut for the five slots in the Outstanding Supporting Actress category? Many soap journalists and insiders picked you to make into that final round.

CAROLYN:

I had so many people saying, “You’re in” that I bought into it. But then, I knew the academy doesn’t really go for funny. It’s a game. What was great? Is when Bob Guza said to me, “That you made it out of the building.”  Meaning, that I had won the respect and approval of the cast and crew that were deciding the final three to represent “GH”.   That was so gratifying.

MICHAEL:

What’s next for Carolyn Hennesy to tackle?

CAROLYN:

Once the seven novels are finished, and the Emmy is on my mantle piece? Probably, I would like to start a production company.

Don-Carol.jpgMICHAEL:

Tell us about your husband Donald, and how you both have made your relationship work?

CAROLYN:

We have been together a year and half. He is patient with me. He is my number one hero, and such a champion of mine. Donald will stay up with me, cook, do laundry, and work my lines with me. He gives a 150% and I try to give 150%, but sometimes I only can give 110%, because I am off juggling things in the air. He is bright, funny, and he gets me, and understands me. Donald is as handsome as the day is long. He was the one worth waiting for!

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