Exclusive Interview with Carolyn Hennesy

Carolyn Hennesy - Photo courtesy of Carolyn Hennesy
Carolyn Hennesy - Photo courtesy of Carolyn Hennesy

Carolyn Hennesy has been an actress for many years, appearing in over 100 theatrical productions. Her films include Terminator 3, Legally Blonde 2, Red, White, and Blonde, The Cougar Club, Sublime, and Click.

Carolyn has guest starred in several television shows including Dawson’s Creek and That 70s Show.

Currently Carolyn can be seen playing attorney Diane Miller on the ABC daytime drama General Hospital. And don’t miss her in the current Geico commercial where she stars with “money-with-eyes.”

Also a best selling author, Carolyn has written a series of children’s books – Pandora Gets Jealous and Pandora Gets Vain. The third in the series, Pandora Gets Lazy, is set for release at the end of March, 2009.

Carolyn keeps busy teaching improvisational comedy and has become a flying trapeze artist. She lives in Southern California with her husband, actor Donald Agnelli.

Carolyn graciously consented to giving Our Prattville an interview:

When you were first starting out in the entertainment field, were you interested more in comedy than in “serious” acting?

Heavens! I was going to be the next Streep (which was interesting at the time, because she had just emerged on the scene and wasn’t likely to be going anywhere for a while, but I digress.) Very serious, I was. Shakespeare, Shaw, Williams, Miller…if they were dead and tragic, that was for me!

Your dad was Oscar-winning art director Dale Hennesy. Did your parents support your interest in show business? Do you have any siblings?

I have two brothers, one of which is also a “creative-type” like me. He’s an Imagineer with Disney and a fabulous writer.

My father was always extremely supportive however, being behind the scenes, he was adamant that I grow up with a healthy respect for the crew, production staff and all the off-camera support, whether on stage or screen. He’d seen enough phoniness in his lifetime to last an eternity and was determined to instill the opposite in me.

My mother is extremely proud but while I was growing up, being ever-pragmatic, she insisted I learn to type…as a fallback measure. Thank heavens she won’t ever know how long it took me to type this.

Your aunt is the wonderful actress of stage and screen, Barbara Rush. Do you keep in contact with her? Do you remember any particular “memorable” tales from her Hollywood days with Brando, Newman, Sinatra, or Burton?

I don’t really keep in touch with her…she’s usually off visiting her grandchildren or, more likely, cruising the world. She’s very circumspect with her tales of old Hollywood. As you might know, she was the female lead in Robin and the Seven Hoods with almost all of the Rat Pack and then some.

The one thing that she did mention was how devoted Dean Martin was to his wife. Everyone thinks of Dean as a rascal and a serious imbiber. Apparently, much of that was an act and Dean could be found at night, not out carousing with the boys, but in his hotel room on the phone with his wife. This is only what I’ve heard…but I like to think it’s true. When Dean Martin passed on, my aunt supposedly said, “Dean’s the one I’ll really miss.”

Have you ever considered joining the circus and making a living out of being a trapeze artist?

Oh, I’ve considered it. The real question is: have they considered me?

Who is your favorite comedian?

Let’s see if I can narrow it down to just three…Jack Lemmon (watch Some Like It Hot and The Great Race for a master class.) Richard Pryor…now and forever, one of the best. Robin Williams…yes, he’s from another planet, but it’s a smart, funny planet. A helluva lot smarter than ours.

Carolyn Hennesy - Pandora Gets Lazy
Carolyn Hennesy - Pandora Gets Lazy

Do you have any advice for young actors just starting out in the business?

Respect the crew. They’re generally smarter than you, and most of them work harder in one day than you will in a year and they get none of the recognition. They’re your life blood; they’ve seen it all, they can spot a diva in a heartbeat and they will not hesitate to make your life hell if you behave like a brat. Show up on time, know your lines, don’t make anybody wait while you’re off someplace showing everyone how “special” you are. Be the kind of person that everyone wants to work with…and odds are, you’ll work.

How many children’s books in the Pandora series have you written so far and do you think that it is more difficult writing for children than for adults?

I am about to complete book four…and having never written for big people, I couldn’t say.

I think you are absolutely hilarious on General Hospital and the banter back and forth with Nancy Grahn is just priceless. Do the writers let you ad lib at all?

They do…a bit. I think as long as we get the theme of the scene correct, the players, the genders, the numbers, the time…if that’s all there, they don’t mind a tiny bit of fudging. God bless them.

Will your husband, Donald Agnelli, be recreating his “biker” role on General Hospital anytime soon?

Perhaps by the grace of God (aka Bob Guza.)

You are great in the courtroom scenes attempting to get either Sonny or Jason out of some nefarious crime that they, no doubt, have committed. Can you tell us if Diane will be defending anyone in the near future?

I cannot give away any spoilers…suffice to say that Spinelli is, potentially, in a world of hurt.

Do you want the romance to continue between Diane and Max or would you prefer that Diane played the field a little more? Personally, I think she has always been attracted to Jason’s baby blues, but a May/December romance with Spinelli wouldn’t be out of the question! Any thoughts?

Oey! Who hasn’t fallen for Jason’s baby blues? Or Sonny’s dimples and dark side? Diane Miller, that’s who! And there’s a whole faction out there waging a serious campaign for Diane to be Spinelli’s long lost mom (and I’m with them!) Diane adores Max because he gives her exactly what she needs at this point: space, fun and the room to be herself. Of course I would love to see a breakup…only from a dramatic standpoint, mind you…watch Diane have a little fun (Mac? Ric? Dare I say it…Luke?)…and then see if the Max romance is really the one that gonna stick. A reconciliation with Max could be a lovely road to wander.

I was disappointed to see that Diane was nowhere to be found during the recent poison outbreak/hospital fire. I could envision her getting her heel caught in the stairway as she tried to escape the fire and then having a hissy fit because she’d ruined her new Stuart Weitzman designer evening shoes. What are the similarities between Diane Miller and Carolyn Hennesy? What are the differences?

Personally, I’m thrilled that Diane wasn’t there…at least she’s still alive.

Similarities? Wit, a certain amount of smarts, a highly developed fashion sense, confidence and a passion for a good steak. Differences? I’m deadly afraid of snakes whereas Diane has one as a pet. Diane’s a drinker, I’m not. Diane’s not particularly interested in being intellectually challenged by her mate; I am. Diane is also very quick to fly off the handle…especially when she doesn’t have all the facts. I try to avoid that.

What can you tell us about Carolyn Hennesy that we’d be surprised to know?

I never buy retail, if I can help it.

Please tell us about your future projects.

For any and all future news…please visit my website: www.carolynhennesy.com. It’s all there…and more! Thanks!

Publisher’s Note: At the same time I received Carolyn’s answers to my questions, I found out that she is scheduled to appear in a new ABC pilot called Cougar Town. I asked Carolyn a few questions about the show and she replied, “I am not at great liberty to talk about the show, only to say that it is Courteney’s show and I have a small recur.” When I asked her if she would remain on General Hospital, she said, “I hope I can find the time and energy to do both…and that everything will work out. Again, I would stress the point that it is a Courteney Cox vehicle and I have a small recur. This is in no way my show.”

Interview by Melissa Parker

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