Kimberly Quinn's face has appeared on the small screen several times, so you might recognize her from guest appearances on numerous TV series such as "Terriers," "CSI: NY" or "Two and a Half Men." But her roles as both a star and associate producer in "St. Vincent," the emotional, heart-tugging film, has called greater attention to her career, which has been in development for more than a decade.
Quinn has made her debut on the big screen - a part deserving of recognition - and she couldn't have asked for it to be beside better co-stars. The model-turned-actress plays Ana, a caring nurse who is one of the few people to see the good in Vincent, which is true to the way in which she viewed her own father. She also partnered up with her husband, director Ted Melfi, to pen the script for "St. Vincent," which opened last fall. For his efforts, Melfi was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy.
In an exclusive interview, HNGN learned first-hand how Quinn felt about having Bill Murray portray her father, the success of the film, the process of screenwriting and what the future holds for her career as both a producer and an actress.
HNGN: What did you learn from your fellow "St. Vincent" co-stars - Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts and Bill Murray? What was it like to be on set with them?
KQ: I learned to not act, pretty much. I learned to just "be" . . . to live in the moment more. I think it's only through experience, and especially through working with such amazing people who have such amazing careers that when you're working off of someone - my only job was to react and work off of them - because of their experience and who they were - it was basically effortless. It's like playing tennis with a pro - you're going to get better and the game feels easier. When you're working with someone who isn't a pro, it's kind of like you're struggling and you're trying to hit the ball and it's harder. So I guess I learned how to work a little bit more effortlessly.
As Bill would say, "Just relax." He was the master of being relaxed and he would pass that along to me. His whole thing was all about relaxation, which is what you need in acting. You can't create if you're tense, energy can't move through you and be effortless if you're tense. Whether you're an actor, musician or a writer, you just have to let everything move through you. Listen, respond, relax and keep going.
HNGN: How did you feel about these particular actors portraying a story that is so close to your heart? Did it bring back any emotions for you?
KQ: I guess specifically for Bill since he was portraying my father - I love Bill so much, but I think I love him even more than I should. When I look at him, he emulated my father so it is kind of hard to just see him as Bill Murray. My father passed away and I adored him and it was just. . . When working with Bill, it was hard for me to not cry, to not want to hug him, thank him profusely at all times. I just saw so much of my father in him that I couldn't separate Bill Murray from my father a lot of the time. I kept my distance so I didn't seem like a weirdo and break down and cry. We have a great relationship. He knows I adore him. I guess it is just strange watching someone portray one of your parents.
He (Murray) did more than I ever expected. I think he embodied not just my father - I was just so happy and proud of the film - on the level of just bringing everyone who is just like my father to light and giving them some sort of hope and worth and value in their life. That's what I was happiest about. It superseded my father. It was more than just my dad. Maybe it's your dad. That was the pure joy of it all.
HNGN: What do you think the overall theme of the film is? How do you want people to respond and feel after watching it?
KQ: Everyone has value. My dad was worse than this character. He was basically homeless, but you couldn't go that far with it because people wouldn't believe it. He lived in a home. He was really poor and lost his wife and when he lost her, he lost life. He had a lot of kids he didn't wind up talking to. So what the film is saying is that it didn't matter about your journey. For me, when my dad passed away, I was really sad because I thought that no one would know he had any value. I mean I did because I spent the last few days of his life with him and the last ten years and no one else did. It was just me. When he died, we had a really strong bond, but no one else did. I was really sad. He was amazing. He did a lot of bad things, but on his deathbed, the last few years of his life, he turned into a beautiful, beautiful man and no one saw that except for me. I think what the film does - what I hope it does - is that it lets people know that no matter your struggle, you can't give up on yourself. Everyone has value. I hope that is what they get out of it.
HNGN: You were an associate producer alongside your husband for "St. Vincent." What were your specific duties? Did you have any creative liberties?
KQ: I'm definitely more on the creative aspect. I use all of the things I create characters with, questions I ask and develop for myself and then bring them into the script to complete all of the characters with a more thorough development. It helps to create unique voices so none of the characters sounds the same, so they can all breathe and live and come from different places. Sometimes you'll find that - in movies or scripts - that they (characters) can get kind of flat and all of them sound the same and it's a good movie but you don't know what's really missing. I think that is what's so great about "St. Vincent" was that everyone was so rich. Everyone came from their own place, and I think someone in the audience - no matter who you are - could relate to somebody. Like I said, the scientific approach to the character development that I do in my acting is what I bring to the script.
HNGN: What is it like to be married to someone who has the same passions as you?
KQ: It's fantastic. It's hell. I mean that in the good sense, just because when there are two people with the same passions, well, there's the same passions. Some conversations are passionate and we get into the scripts we're sending out and what we're doing next and why. And then we're married and then you can't get away and then, you know, but it's beautiful. It's nice to have someone in the trenches with you, I'll tell you that. It's nice to have someone to bounce things off of, someone with a level head who is on your team - not someone in Hollywood with an agenda. You can make the right choices with someone who supports you.
HNGN: Are you and Ted collaborating on any new projects? What's in the works?
KQ: I'm producing Ted's next movie and we just finished the script. Hopefully, that will be shooting in New York in a couple of months - maybe May. There's a lot of politics in regards to having a part. You would think it would be easy, but it's not. I just try to enjoy the process and stay creative with the scripts. We have a few (projects) down the pipe that are coming and we're getting together with production companies and making that happen. So I'm producing quite a few projects and hopefully developing a television series.
In the meantime, I'm auditioning and seeing what's out there, but we're doing what we can on our end, which is very empowering and I'm very grateful that we have the creative sensibilities to do that. Just so I'm not sitting around and waiting, this all makes me happy.
HNGN: You got your start in commercials and small side gigs and then moved on to modeling. What do you think the difference between modeling and acting is? What do both roles demand from you?
KQ: Oh for the love of God. I'm recalling a bad memory. I didn't like modeling at all. I thought it was silly, just sitting there and taking pictures, and I would kind of say these things. Another model who was working with me got offended and kind of put me in my place. She said, "You have to use your imagination. You have to pretend things, do all of this stuff..." I don't think modeling is all that, but maybe I was doing it wrong and I wasn't giving it my full effort.
I guess the difference for me is that acting is full body, mind and spirit. You get to speak, you get to create, you get to think and invent and use your imagination. Maybe I was wrong about modeling, maybe it is the same thing, but at the time I didn't think so. I thought you just took a picture, and it was boring to me. With acting, you're not only doing it for you, you're doing it for a bigger picture, the whole of the film. You're trying to create a piece in its entirety not just "oh, it's my time to act right now." You're trying to create a story, connect all of the dots. It's kind of scientific for me. You get to do research and investigate. I do look at it with a very scientific approach.
Acting is very fulfilling. Now that I've gotten into producing and directing myself, it has enriched my acting even more. I'm not just one element trying to put pieces of the puzzle together. Now, I really understand all of the elements and it's complete. I feel complete.
HNGN: Which genres do you prefer to work in?
KQ: What I prefer is . . . I enjoy the dramedy aspect because I think life is a dramedy, (comedy and drama combined). You have to laugh and you can't cry too much. I started off in comedy. That was my thing. I was the comedy girl, and no one would even see me for a drama. I had to really fight it and go do my own thing and prove myself in that area. Well, now I'm doing dramas and not comedy. I love it all. I don't like horror. It's kind of like, "What kind of music do you like?" It's like well, I like all music, just not head-banging, screaming Metallica stuff, so it's kind of the same thing. I like doing it all. I like acting, as long as it's good . . . good material. For me, it's all about the material. What I don't like doing is something silly. I've had to do it and it's not fun. It has also been a great motivator to light the fire under my butt to create and write and do my own stuff and spend my time with great product. If that means developing it with my husband and spending time there and putting stuff in the world that says something and is meaningful, I would rather do that than be on a really silly show. It's hard for me. I'm not naming any names.
HNGN: What is your dream role and alongside of who?
KQ: Broadway. I know that's probably not what you were looking for. That's a dream job. To work opposite of who? Holy smokes. Does everyone say Meryl Streep? Oh my God, I think I would just die. I wouldn't mind going toe to toe with some strong men characters - Clive Owen on stage or someone who ups my game, which there are a lot of them.
I guess Broadway is where I would like to put my final stamp on one day. I'll be the old lady on stage. You'll be like, "There she is. She made it." Right now, we're doing film and I love every minute of it. Our company is growing and I love creating great projects and developing scripts and making sure they are fantastic. I love getting them (scripts) cast and putting them into the world and, hopefully, playing a part in them. I feel really good about managing what we're starting here - what we are lucky enough to be able to start.