The supernatural horror-thriller Agnes is set to make its premiere at Tribeca. Ahead of its debut, we sat down with its star, Molly C. Quinn, to discuss not only her role but also how it affected her personally.
Molly C. Quinn is a name you should recognize, she’s had roles in many films, such as We Are the Millers, Doctor Sleep, and Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2, but you will probably recognize her more from her long-running series role on the crime series “Castle”, in which she played Alexis, Castle’s (Nathon Fillion) daughter. She’s easy to spot with her stunning long red hair.
In Agnes, directed and co-written by Mickey Reece, a nun’s disturbing behavior sparks rumors of demonic possession at a remote convent. When a priest-in-waiting and his disillusioned mentor are sent to investigate, their methods backfire, leaving a wake of terror and trauma, and another nun struggling with her faith.
Kelli McNeely: “Let me start by confessing that I am very familiar with your work. I was a huge Castle fan.”
Molly Quinn: “Thank you. I am too.”
Kelli McNeely: “You’ve been in so many great things. But let’s talk about the most recent, Agnes. Your character comes across as such a sweet and innocent person but has so many complex emotions. Where did you draw from for Mary?”
Molly Quinn: “You know, that’s a great question. When I decided to produce and star in this film, I read the script multiple times a day and I did something I’ve done for every character I’ve lucky enough to portray, I started a journal for her. I thought about her past, and I took cues from the script, but mainly, I really just tried to find phrases from books or a poem, or prayers, or relationships that magnify her defining moment in life and for me, it was the relationship with her son that she lost. I really started reading literature like What to Expect When You’re Expecting, because I just wanted to immerse myself in that world of greatest love and loss. Mary does not take that love lightly. She is very angry and some of that anger is taken from my own experiences in the past when I was out of control and I was being listened to and I wasn’t being protected. Melding those things together, for Mary was in some ways very cathartic, but in other ways not at all. It brought up a lot of old memories.”
Kelli McNeely: “I’m sure. Exploring those painful times in your life had to be hard, but I think it went along with making Mary feel authentic to viewers.”
Molly Quinn: “She’s her own person. She is someone who is desperate for love, so she has to have her own background and her own life.”
Kelli McNeely: “Yes. In a movie like this, that takes place in the religious realm, did it affect you, make you examine your own beliefs?”
Molly Quinn: “Absolutely. I don’t think you can be drawn to this script without being somewhat obsessed with religion in one way or another. And for myself, that’s absolutely true. My mom’s a Seventh-Day Adventists, my father’s Catholic, so as a kid I was taken to church on Saturdays and Sundays and getting two very different styles. All that was fine and good even, so I got older and I was not practicing what was preached. I had an untimely loss of a friend and everyone around me kept saying that everything happens for a reason and that God has a plan and those things made me very angry. I felt like no one was able to help me process my emotions. So doing this movie, again focusing on my own religious past and where Mary was going to fit in that, was not easy. Thinking her loss was intended was something that she totally rejected.”
Kelli McNeely: “I imagine that was difficult, but diving deep into your emotions from your past really shows dedication and affected the way Mary presents herself in the film. Was that the most difficult aspect when making the film or was it something else?”
Molly Quinn: “I think the most difficult aspect was producing and starring at the same time because my brain could never switch off. When you’re starring in a movie you have enough to work on, but when you’re producing you have to look at the big picture. You’re always thinking about accomplishing your shot and do we need to get different directions to our actors so that the scene makes sense. Are we running out of time? Do we still have enough money? You know, you’re really having to think about all of these things in order to have a finished product. When you’re acting at the same time, it’s tough. It took all of my energy and that was definitely the hardest part and I can’t wait to do it again.”
Kelli McNeely: “I imagine that was difficult. Towards the end of Agnes, you see Mary start to change, can you talk about that?”
Moly Quinn: “I think the basis for that was she was entering a world that refuses to understand her as well as her faith. She finally just lets them all have it.”
Kelli McNeely: “I can see that. For some reason, supernatural films featuring things like possession and demons really freak me out. How about you?”
Molly Quinn: “Absolutely, it’s my favorite subgenre, I’m obsessed with it. The idea of being overtaken and still aware of everything you are doing but it not being you, it’s horrifying. I hope that that isn’t a real thing and that it’s never happened to anyone. But I also think that the real-life horror of how not dealing with your past trauma and how that can affect you is very real and very scary. I think that a lot of people can relate to that.”
Kelli McNeely: “I agree it’s a scary thought. I also agree with you about trauma, the longer you go without dealing with it, the more it damages you. How did you become involved with Agnes?
Molly Quinn: “My production company, Quagmire, was looking for a film to do that was in the horror space but had a different take on it. Our production partners Divide and Conquer had just made Climate of the Hunter with Mickey Reece and they sent us the first draft of Agnes. And when we watched Climate of the Hunter, we were pretty amazed at what Mickey was able to create with the crew he had assembled. So, we read Agnes and we saw right away that you think you’re in a horrible possession movie and then it just takes a left turn. We were really attracted to that. So we met with Mickey and we all got along. It was very collaborative.”
Kelli McNeely: “Awesome. I actually interviewed him a while back about both movies. And you’re right, Agnes is very different from your usual possession horror films. What message do you hope people get from this film? ”
Molly Quinn: “I hope that everyone takes away a different message. I think it’s such an individual experience when you watch a movie. If it was an overall message, I hope that when people watch this, that they are reminded of something in their own life that they haven’t dealt with. I hope that in a way it makes them uncomfortable, and makes them feel, ‘Oh, I haven’t talked to my brother in two years, I should probably call him.” I want people to be reminded of the things that they are trying to ignore in their own life.”
Kelly McNeely: “Tell us the story of how QWgmire, your production company, came to be?”
Molly Quinn: “I started the production company in 2019 called QWgmire. What happened was I had started dating my boyfriend – now-fiancee – Elan Gale, and he introduced me to Mathew Welty, a really incredible guy, and we just started binding about producing movies one day and it took a while, but flash forward to 2019 and we were working on this micro-budget movie and I called him and I told him that it might be a good time for him to see if he liked to produce. Either you like it or you don’t, it’s a pretty black or white thing. He read the script and wanted to be involved, but in order to do it, he was like let’s start a production company. We got Elan to join us and we started QWagmire and really it’s just been steady ever since. We have our next film funded and we’re going to start shooting that in August or September.”
Kelli McNeely: “What genre will it be in?”
Molly Quinn: “It’s horror, baby.”
Kelli McNeely: “That’s fantastic. Congratulations on both your company and Agnes!” Is there anything you can tell us about your next project?”
Molly Quinn: “Not yet.”
Kelli McNeely: “I understand, but you can’t blame a girl for trying. What is your favorite aspect of producing?”
Molly Quinn: “My favorite part about producing is having a birdseye view of the entire project. Mapping out the tapestry and then assembling it all together. You start out with an idea and you try to accomplish it and try to get it as close as possible. Then you have to allow for everything to go wrong. And to make the things that go wrong work out for you. It’s that overall vision. I really love that.”
Kelli McNeely: “It’s a wild process. Will you be starring in this next film?”
Molly Quinn: “I will not. I will be producing this one with our writer-director Teresa Sutherland.”
Kelli McNeely: “I look forward to seeing what you create. We always need more female voices in the genre.”
Molly Quinn: “Absolutely. We love Teresa and we fell in love with her movie The Wind. Getting to be involved with her directorial debut is amazing.”
Kelli McNeely: “The Wind is a fantastic film.”
Molly Quinn: “Yes. We are very excited about the upcoming movie, It’s something I’m excited to sink my teeth into. We’re getting ready.”
Kelli McNeely: “If you had to pick a favorite role from your past, which would it be?”
Molly Quinn: “My goodness, that’s like asking a parent who their favorite child is. They are all kind of imaginary friends, I live with them every day. They are always in my head. But I think my favorite has to be Castle. It’s really a thing that started it all and I’m still so close with everyone. I learned from our producer Laurie Zaks. She was and is my mentor when it comes to producing and opening my eyes to that world.
Getting to be with a character for so long and to grow with her was just really a dream come true. I cherish that. I cherish that time in my life and I cherish her and I always will.”
Kelli McNeely: “Your character, Alexis was there for everything in Castle. How many seasons was it?”
Molly Quinn: “Eight seasons.”
Kelli McNeely: “Yeah, that’s a long time to play a character. You basically grew up with her.”
Molly Quinn: “It was really nice. You get lucky, we all got along and had a great time. We have BBQs together and support each other when someone is doing a play downtown or whatever else.”
Kelli McNeely: “It’s fantastic you were able to build those relationships.”
If you are looking for a fresh new take on the possession subgenre, Agnes is for you. A release date should be announced soon following its Tribeca premiere. In the meantime, follow Molly C. Quinn on Instagram and Twitter to stay up to date on her projects and visit the QWgmire site to learn more.
Check out “Castle” if you can, it’s a fantastic, funny, action-packed, binge-worthy series that you can watch now on Peacock, TNT, or on Amazon.