Carrie Genzel has explored numerous characters in so many genres; she is a skilled actress with a flair for both comedy and drama. From her critically acclaimed role as Skye Chandler in the long running daytime drama All My Children in the 1990s, to a slew of guest and recurring roles on television, to a solid film career, Carrie Genzel is a much sought after actress. Supernatural fans know her best for her very memorable turns in the episodes “Bugs”and “Just My Imagination.” I recently had the pleasure of speaking with her about her impressive acting career. Read what she had to say below.
You were wonderful as Skye Chandler on All My Children. How do you feel that experience shaped your later career?
“That’s a great question. Booking Skye Chandler on All My Children was my first really big job. I had done some guest parts on some shows and a few recurring jobs, but this was my first contract role on a series. I was really young and naive (laughs) and new, well I felt that way compared to the company of actors on that show. It really taught me alot about being prepared and what’s expected of me when I’m at work. I was so blessed because I got to work with people like David Canary, Susan Lucci, Robin Mattson, Kelly Ripa…people who had been on the show for many years and were also kind to me in opening the door and saying, ‘alright I know it’s overwhelming when you first get here but what do you need?’ It really really gave me a foundation that I continue to use today. I just had an audition this morning where I had a page long monologue and I’m reminded of my days on All My Children because it wasn’t uncommon to get alot of dialogue and to have to learn it quite quickly and not let that intimidate you. Because of the training I had on the show, moments like that, when you have to learn alot of material, don’t freak me out. I know how to prepare, I know how to memorize it and I get the job done. It really was like boot camp for me. It was an incredible start to my career and just a wonderful place to learn and to grow and to watch. When I was very new to the show, I would go up on stage and I would ask the stage manager if I could sit on one of the sets that were dark so I could watch the other actors, especially David Canary and Susan Lucci. They were the people I looked up to and the people I worked with and I wanted to see them and their process so I would often sit on other sets and just watch them do their scenes. That really gave me some familiarity with the process. Daytime moves really fast. It is probably the fastest medium that we have of scripted television, although they are moving faster in other forms television these days. It was such a great experience for me to be a part of the family and troop of actors, to see them everyday and to feel a part of that. So much of our lives as actors is that we have this little family for awhile and then we all leave to do other projects. We’re together for a couple of weeks or a couple of months and then we go back to our lives. It was nice to have a steady acting family for a long period of time. I was able to see my growth from the time I first started on the show. It’s also about establishing relationships with the other actors. David and I worked so closely together because he played Adam and he played Stuart. His dressing room was across from mine so he would check in with me and we would talk. We would run lines and we talked alot about the father/daughter dynamic. Thinking about alot of my scenes with David still makes me tear up. There were so many authentic moments, so many very special moments. I remember the scene when I left the show as Skye. What aired was David and my rehearsal. They did a rehearsal, they recorded it and they loved it and they were like, ‘great moving on.’ I was like ‘WHAT?!’ (laughs) because that was my actual last scene with David. They were like ‘that was incredible, we’re moving on to the next scene.’ I was sad because I knew that meant that I wasn’t going to have any more scenes with David. I started bawling! The producers…Francesca James was our executive producer at the time and she knew me very well and of course she knew David so she knew how emotional it was going to be for both of us so she knew to roll the tape during the rehearsal. Selfishly I wanted another take because I wanted to have another moment with David.”
You have worked in both film and television. Which medium do you prefer?
“I don’t really prefer one medium over the other. It’s really just about good story telling. For the last few years, television seems to be a better medium for women in terms of characters and stories. You can tell by the caliber of talent that has gone from film to television in terms of women’s roles. For me, there isn’t really a preference. Sometimes it’s nice working in film to have more time because film moves slower. For me, it’s not about whether a project will be on the big screen or television. It’s more about the character, the storytelling, the people involved. I still enjoy going to the movies and seeing things on the big screen, but I know that more and more people are watching things at home anyway so it’s getting kinda blurred. Television has a little bit more time to tell the story and sometimes that can be nice as an actor because it gives you more time to flesh out a character and to talk the story instead of having to wrap everything up in one neat package.”
Let’s talk about your time on Supernatural. What were some of your memorable moments?
“Supernatural is a horror show, but it also has a comedy side so as an actor, you need to have alot of tools in your toolbox. I don’t know what it is about Supernatural, but I always end up with something on my face whether it’s spiders or manicorn blood (laughs). Every time I step on that set, it’s a memorable moment. Starting with “Bugs”; that was the very first season of Supernatural and it had just started airing on television when we were shooting our episode and nobody really knew if it was going to make it. At the time, everything was lighter…you think of even Buffy The Vampire Slayer while the subject matter seemed dark, it was a lighter take. The first season of Supernatural in particular was alot darker. It was a very different look and a very different feel. I remember talking to Jared and Jensen and they were like, ‘we’re not really sure if this is gonna fly’ which I reminded them ten years later when I went back (laughs). It was a very different way of storytelling and that first season was alot of urban legends. The show has definitely evolved alot since then. That whole episode with the Bugs was incredible; I think it scarred everyone there for life (laughs). I went in there to audition for Kim Manners and some of the producers here in Vancouver. I knew there were bugs and tarantulas in it because that had been mentioned, but I tried to put that out of my mind because I was actually afraid of spiders. I just thought it was a really fun part and thought to myself, ‘maybe there won’t be that many’ (laughs). I did my audition and everyone was happy with it. Kim leans over and says, ‘Carrie I’m going to need you to be on the floor and I’m going to need a whole bunch of tarantulas all over you because you’re dead. Your mouth is going to be open.’ I don’t know what the heck compelled me, but I was like, ‘okay, I can do that (laughs).’ Kim was so confident and so direct about what he wanted that he was going to make this happen. I’m walking back to my car and I thought, ‘Oh my God, what did I just say?! (laughs). ‘ Then I thought maybe I won’t get it. Maybe it’ll just go away. Then I get a call to tell me that I booked the part. But you know, they were great. They had me go and spend some time before we started shooting with the bug wrangler. I always say that I went to spider school (laughs). I got to talk to them about what to do and not to do, what freaks the spiders out, different things. They put a bunch of spiders on me. I’m not going to lie because in my head, I was freaking out while trying to stand there and look cool. One of the spiders crawled into my ear and just stayed there. The wrangler was talking to me about what the shoot was going to be like and all I could think about was that there was a spider in my ear. I said to the wrangler, ‘there’s a spider in my ear and I don’t think it’s coming out.’ He said, ‘oh…let me see.’ He looked into my ear and was like, ‘yep, there sure is.’ He took his finger and tried to get the spider to come out, but the spider wouldn’t come out. So he went over to his desk and he picked up a Bic pen, pulled off the blue cap, and used the long part of it to dig the spider out of my ear. He then looked at me and said ‘if that didn’t freak you out, you’re going to be fine.’ Spiders like dark places so I had to wear earplugs when we were shooting. I immediately piped up because I remembered that Kim specifically said that he wanted my mouth open. The wrangler said, ‘ that’s fine. Just lick your lips alot before we shoot because spiders don’t like damp things so they won’t go into your mouth.’ So we shot that scene twice where I’m dead on the floor. Between each take, I would lick my lips like crazy to get them wet as possible. It was pretty crazy (laughs). I don’t know what was crazier: laying there with 180 tarantulas on me while I’m not wearing any clothes or being in the shower for hours shooting with all of this crew around me plus I had to fall out of the shower onto the stunt coordinator which was also really weird and awkward (laughs). But I definitely got over my fear of spiders. When I went in for Just My Imagination, in the material that I had to read for the audition, there wasn’t any mention of the unicorn blood. They had taken that out so it wouldn’t get leaked somewhere. I did the scene where the boys come to the house and the scene where she is trying to explain about her daughter in the bedroom. I did this scene in the bedroom without the blood. I remember reading in the material she touches her face and I thought that was really weird. I guess, subconsciously while I was auditioning, I had touched my face. I thought the audition went fine, but I couldn’t really gage how I had done. When I got the call that I booked the part, I was so excited to go back after all of those years and get to play someone else. When I got the script, I howled with laughter because once again, I had something that was incredible and fun to do on the show and nothing is going to bite me, so that’s a plus. I did get bit, actually in Bugs on the forehead. But the manicorn blood wasn’t easy either. During the first take, when I stand up and I’m talking to the boys, a big piece of glitter went into my eye during the scene. Richard was so adamant about me getting through the scene because once the blood is off, it’s probably like an hour for them to redo my makeup and shoot again so that really puts us behind. So I was like, ‘Richard, for you, I promise I will not mess up this take. I don’t care what happens. I won’t laugh. I won’t do anything that will mess up the scene.’ When the glitter goes into my eye, all I can think was that I promised Richard that I wouldn’t mess up the scene. In a way, it was a blessing because I wasn’t thinking about laughing. I also couldn’t look at Nate Torrance (Sully) who was hilarious. Nate is such a funny guy, really incredible. We got to chat between takes and it was great. Trying to ignore him when the camera was rolling was tough (laughs). In my head, I would just go, ‘Jared Jensen Jared Jensen’ so I wouldn’t laugh. After they yelled cut, I told them that there was a big piece of glitter in my eye and they fished it out with a Q-tip. Richard came running and said ‘thank you so much for doing that.’ It was a pretty funny scene to do and it was fun to be a part of a comedic aspect of the show because I think that something they do so well. It became an iconic moment from that season. A couple of women sent me photos of their cosplay playing the character and making dolls. It’s really really thrilling. It was thrilling for me to go back and really thrilling that the fans loved the character. I think that was an incredible episode. There was so much humor in it, but there was so much heart as well. Big kudos to Jenny Klein who wrote the episode and to Richard for directing. Unbeknownst to me at the time but I found out later that it was Richard’s first time directing. You never would have known it because he was just amazing. It is always nice to have a director who is also an actor because they speak our language and are always looking for little nuances to make scenes even better. We were all in great hands.”
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You have extensive experience in front of the camera. Would you like to direct?
“I don’t really have alot of ambition to direct. I’ve done some producing, which is alot of work. I enjoyed it and it was alot of fun. I may do some more producing of some of the things I’ve been working on. But I never really had a desire to direct. Never (laughs). People have asked me quite often over the years if I would. I really enjoy being an actor and I love the collaborative process. I don’t have to be the captain of the ship. I have alot of respect for people who direct because there are alot of balls to keep in the air. I actually prefer being a performer.”
How did you feel channeling Jackie Kennedy in Watchmen?
“Playing Jackie Kennedy was pretty incredible. It was magical actually. When I was on All My Children, they did a photo shoot with me as Jackie. That was the first time that someone mentioned that I resembled her or had that kind of essence. Many years later I was in Vancouver and they were shooting and I was like, “oh, this has come up again with people seeing the Jackie connection. Watchmen was such a huge production. When I went in for a wardrobe fitting, the wardrobe was actually in a warehouse. There were so many costumes and they had them all sectioned off by decade. All of the clothes were flown in from the Warner Brothers wardrobe vault in Los Angeles. All of the clothes for Jackie were authentic to that time. The shoes that I wore were from Saks Fifth Avenue from that particular time. It was pretty incredible just the amount of detail. I went back to change and the pink suit was hanging there. I had worn it for that All My Children photo shoot. I put it on, I put on the hat and I walked out and I remember everyone who was busy working in wardrobe stopped and turned around and just looked at me. It was really incredible. They had a wig made for me. I had to get it cut on my head, this whole process (laughs). The first scene that we shot was the scene in front of the White House. There were alot of people and it was shot with a huge green screen, in a baseball field. I was sad when the production was over because it really felt like I had gone back in time. It was pretty special to be a part of that. I was at an event almost a year or two ago and Mark Hamil happened to be there. A friend of mine introduced us and of course being a huge Star Wars fan, I was thrilled to meet Mark. What he talked to me the whole time that we exchanged conversation…what he talked to me about was Watchmen. I thought to myself, ‘why am I talking to Mark Hamil and he’s asking me what it was like to film Watchmen. I’m standing in front of Like Skywalker. Why am I the topic of conversation (laughs)?’ It just goes to show you how wonderful Mark is. He’s this huge comic book fan.”
Are there any current projects that you’re able to share with us?
“I have a family movie coming out in May that is very different from Supernatural (laughs). It’s called Max 2: White House Hero. I play the First Lady and Lochlyn Munro plays the President. Lochlyn is really wonderful in it. It’s a sequel actually. There was a movie called Max about a service dog in the navy. The sequel is a lot lighter than the original. It’s just a fun, family movie. I also did a movie that William H. Macy directed called The Layover with Kate Upton and Alexandra Daddario. I believe that might be coming out this year. I hope so because it’s really funny. Working with William H. Macy was incredible. When I went in to read for him, I was nervous. But when I finished reading for him, he stood up, shook my hand and said, “Carrie, that was really swell’ and I’m thinking to myself, ‘ That’s the guy from Fargo’ (laughs). That is the best moment ever. He’s incredible. Just a normal guy, absolutely no ego. He’s a super chill guy. Even when we comes over with his director’s notes…I don’t know if he knows that he’s doing it, but he’s acting them out (laughs). I’m hoping that it will come out this year. I don’t know if that will be in the theatre or on cable, like a Netflix deal. You never know where I’ll pop up.”
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