A force of nature full of energy, creativity and will to get involved: in other words, Abby Quinn! The young actress, after her stage debut at the age of six in an adaptation of “The Wizard of Oz,” landed in Los Angeles to devote herself completely to acting, something, as defined by Abby herself, that “I needed to feel fulfilled and happy in my life.”
And what a ride has been for Abby until now: she took part in “After the Wedding” with Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams, she “helped” Emma Watson in the adaptation of “Little Women” by Greta Gerwig and she played Mabel in the TV series revival of “Mad About You.” We can say that Abby is one of the most interesting rising stars right now and, as if it wasn’t enough, she’s also a singer and a music writer. And speaking of music here’s a treat for you, the new song, “Knew You For a Moment,” she wrote and recorded for “After the Wedding.”
Driven by the curiosity to discover more about her passions and talents, we met her in person while we were in Los Angeles, where she told us about the importance of creating a relationship with her on-screen parents, the playlists dedicated to every character she plays, the superpower she wishes she had and her epic-fail.
It was incredible then, during the photoshoot, to exchange opinions and impressions with Abby about the “Neapolitan Novels” written by Elena Ferrante and to discover that she is a great fan of musicals, just like me (not by chance, her answer about the musical characters she would go out for dinner with is among my favorites ever). While hoping to see her take part in a musical film, to find her again in “Good Girls Get High” and “Radium Girls” (the movie focuses on the “radium girls” who, in the 1920s, sued the factory where they were working for radiation poisoning), we introduce you, in our way, Abby Quinn!
What made you want to become actress?
My Mom grew up loving the theater and performing in general, and she really encouraged me and my siblings to take part in theater from a very early age. Growing up, there was always music playing in our house, we were always dancing, we went to the movies every weekend, and made sure to see whatever play or musical came to town. At first, I think I loved acting because it was a way for me to spend time with my family and friends. Over time, I became more and more invested in performing, and acting grew into something that I needed in order to feel fulfilled and happy in my life. There was nothing else I ever wanted to be doing besides performing.
You play Mabel in the reboot of “Mad About You,” were you familiar with the TV series before? And how did you prepare for the role?
I hadn’t seen “Mad About You” before getting the audition for the role of Mabel, but as soon as I got the audition, I watched a bunch of episodes, and I’ve continued to watch the original series throughout filming. It’s now one of my favorite shows ever. Being able to watch the original series really helped me in preparing for the role, as well as working with my acting coach throughout the audition process, and filming. I was able to study Paul and Jamie (my parents on the show), and try to figure out ways in which I could incorporate some of their quirks into my performance. I wanted to make sure that Mabel felt like a combination of both of her parents (though she would probably hate to admit that she is anything like them).
“There was nothing else I ever wanted to be doing besides performing.”
About “After the Wedding” instead, is there a particular memory with your co-stars (Julienne Moore and Michelle Williams) that you can tell us about?
The first time I met Julianne and Michelle was surreal. Bart Freundlich, the director of the film, invited me over to his house to meet everyone. I walked into the backyard and Julianne and Michelle were both sitting at a table, eating lunch. We just sat and talked about the script for a while. Internally, I was really freaking out, and could not wrap my head around what was happening, but they were both so kind and really embraced me from the first moment we met. Another great memory I have with Michelle took place on the day we were filming our most emotional scenes together. We were filming in the Bowery hotel, and in between scenes we were just hanging out in one of the hotel rooms, talking about life and music. It was a beautiful day.
How did you work on the relationship you built with your onscreen parents?
I think it differs depending on the project. More often than not, you have very little time with the other actors before you start filming, so I’ve found that the relationships really build throughout the filming process, and in the moments between takes. For both “After The Wedding” and “Mad About You”, I was lucky enough to spend a bit of time with my onscreen parents before filming began. I got lunch with Helen and Paul a few days before our first table read for Mad About You, and we had a couple of hours to get to know all that we could about each other, and about our dynamic in the show. Mabel is incredibly close to her parents, so getting to know Helen and Paul a bit before filming helped immensely.
“Internally, I was really freaking out, and could not wrap my head around what was happening…”
About “Little Women,” had you read the book before or had you seen the previous adaptation?
My Mom read the book to me when I was really young, and I’ve watched the 90’s version of the film many times. My family used to watch it every Christmas together. I actually re-watched the movie while I was filming “After The Wedding”, and a week later I got the audition for the new adaptation!
How would you define this new take of such a classic story?
The heart of the story is still the same, but I think this film goes in-depth about certain topics and characters that the previous movies did not explore as deeply. It doesn’t just feel like an updated version of the same movie- it’s beautifully new and revolutionary in its own right.
“Little Women: it’s beautifully new and revolutionary in its own right.”
We know you are a music lover and writer, do you usually create playlists or when you are on set or when you are preparing for an audition? And what playlist/genre are you currently listening to?
Yes! I make a playlist for each character I play. I usually start making the playlists throughout the audition process, and I continue to add songs throughout filming. It’s been a great way for me to really dive into the headspace of the character I’m playing and also discover new music. I shot a film called “Landline” a couple of years ago that took place in the 90s, and, in making the playlist, I discovered a ton of music from that era that I had never listened to before. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of George Harrison, Roy Orbison and a band called Soccer Mommy.
What’s your go-to song?
Hmm, right now my go-to song to listen to is Roam by The B-52’s.
What’s your guilty pleasure movie?
I don’t really consider it to be a guilty pleasure movie, because to me it’s just a great movie, but I know that rom-coms are usually considered guilty pleasure movies so in that case… “13 Going On 30” and “50 First Dates”. And also, “The Wedding Planner” and “Maid In Manhattan”.
“I make a playlist for each character I play.”
A series to binge and a series to savor?
I think a good series to binge is “Parks and Recreation” or “Workaholics”. A good series to savor… hmm probably “The Crown”. Or “Always Sunny In Philadelphia”.
What’s your happy place?
I think Colorado or Ireland. Anywhere that’s very green, around 60 degrees, and where I can be outside. A bonus if it is raining.
I’d like to either have the power of invisibility, or have the ability to heal others. Invisibility would be very fun for a little while, but I think I might end up using it in a way that would not make me feel great, like to listen in on conversations that I may want to hear, but that may just end up hurting me. However, I do think it would be fun to be invisible at a party every now and then, and to really just be able to observe the room, and the dynamic of the relationships throughout the room. I think the power of healing would ultimately be what I’d love to have. I’d love to be able to help others, and to take people out of pain, mentally and physically.
What’s the book on your nightstand? We read that your favorite book is “My Brilliant Friend” by Elena Ferrante, who’s an Italian writer.
Yes, that is one of my favorite books ever! The book on my nightstand right now is “To The Lighthouse” by Virginia Woolf.
Since you played Toby in “Sweeney Todd” in high school and you had a Grease themed party, tell us 3 musical characters you would go out for dinner with and why.
Oh my gosh this is such a great question. Ok. I think I’d have to go with Anybodys from West Side Story, Frenchy from Grease, and The Phantom Of The Opera. I think Frenchy and I would get along really well. Frenchy always wants to keep the peace amongst her friends, which is something that I try to do as well. So I think we’d become fast friends. Anybodys would add a bit of vigor to the dinner. She’s very scrappy and in your face. I’d love to hear a bit more about her background, because you don’t get to know her very well in the show. The Phantom is a wild card, and is there primarily because I would love to see how he would interact with all three of us, and if he would be open to becoming friends. I would hope that at some point in the evening, the Phantom would break into song about his bread roll being too hot, and then Anybody’s would blow on it and tell him to suck it up, while Frenchy and I took both sides and try to diffuse the situation by offering the Phantom some water.
Then the Phantom would say ‘sing for me‘ and we would all sing together for the rest of dinner.
“I think I’d have to go with Anybodys from West Side Story, Frenchy from Grease, and The Phantom Of The Opera.”
Your favorite snack on set.
Raisins! Raisins are always the perfect snack, but they are an especially good snack to eat while on set. The tiny boxes are small enough to fit into the pocket of any costume, or to hide on the set without anyone knowing. Popcorn is another go-to of mine.
An epic fail on the job.
On the first night of taping for “Mad About You”, I ran out on stage and completely forgot all of my lines. I opened my mouth, started to speak, and then just stared at Paul, completely drawing a blank. The audience laughed and we started the scene over again. Helen ran backstage with me and told me that messing up is a good thing with live audiences because it puts everyone at ease. It’s okay to mess up, and it ended up making everything a bit funnier because I was able to relax a bit more and actually enjoy the process once I knew that forgetting a line was not the end of the world at all.
What character would you love to play in the future or what kind of story would you love to be a part of?
I would love more than anything to do a movie musical. That would be a dream for me. I’m hoping that one day a movie will be made about one of my favorite bands ever, The Roches, and that I will get to play one of the sisters in the band. The first thing I used to do when I got home from school when I was a kid was watch Grease and/ or Sound Of Music. Those films have always meant so much to me, and I know I would have the time of my life combining music and film.
What can you unveil about your 2020 upcoming projects?
I can’t reveal a ton about my upcoming projects, but I can say that I am really excited for the year ahead! A film I’m in called “Good Girls Get High” will be on HBO Max, so be sure to look out for that! I’m also going to be working on music, and will be releasing some songs in the new year. See ya then!
Photos and Video by Johnny Carrano.
Follow Abby here.
Makeup by Elie Maalouf.
Hair by Kiley Fitzgerald.
Styiling by Chris Horan.
Thanks to Cliff’s Edge.
Dress: Giambatista Valli x H&M
Earrings: Vintage Silver Hoops
Shoes: Jimmy Choo
Socks: Hysteria by Happy Socks
Shoes: By Far