November 8, 2019 Interview – Courtney Henggeler
A diverse working actress, Courtney Henggeler began her career in film and television nearly twenty years ago. Upbeat, fun-loving, and full of life, Henggeler has consistently built ar ésumé that has found her amidst some cool projects ranging from the hit CBS series The Big Bang Theory to her more recent well-known role as Amanda LaRusso on YouTube’s Cobra Kai.
Never one to limit herself, and always opening to something new, she dove right into the role as Anna, a well-meaning stepmother in the new Horror feature Pilgrim, one of the latest episodes of the Hulu Into the Dark series. Fittingly out on November 1st, just in time for Thanksgiving, Henggeler got a chance to be a part of the wild, yet creepy film and she loved every minute of it. Excited, she recently sat down to chat Into the Dark: Pilgrim, Cobra Kai, her future projects, plus a whole lot more.
Cryptic Rock – You have been involved in acting professionally in film and television for almost two decades now. Briefly tell us what inspired you to pursue an acting career?
Courtney Henggeler – Is that true? Has it been that long! I saw a hula dancer on TV when I was four and I said, “I want to do that!” My mom told me that really wasn’t a profession for me and I wanted to figure out another way so I could be on TV and dancing in front of people. It turns out I don’t have much dancing ability, so acting was the next best thing.
Cryptic Rock – Very cool. You would go on to your first starring role in the 2003 Horror film Bog Creatures. Since then, you have done quite a bit. How would you compare working in television opposed to feature films?
Courtney Henggeler – It depends on the kind of TV you are talking about, but most of the TV I’ve done is a lot of network shows where it is very kind of formulaic and by the numbers – you kind of know what you are going to expect most days. I am generally speaking of course, everything has it’s own special thing, but with movies it’s kind of more free to explore and play around. That is what my experience has been at least.
Cryptic Rock – Interesting you say that. Speaking of movies, you are a part of this new Into the Dark film called Pilgrim which premiered on Hulu on Friday, November 1st. How did this role come about for you?
Courtney Henggeler – That was just an audition that came in. They didn’t have a script for us, I didn’t really know what I was auditioning for, and I just had 1-2 scenes to go by. The role of Ethan was being auditioned right before me and I just heard a lot of men yelling about turkey – I thought, what the hell did I just sign up for! (Laughs)
I went in, did it, and remember thinking, that was that. I got a call asking if I wanted to do the movie, so that is how it came about, but I really didn’t know much about it. It turned out to be one of the best jobs I’ve ever had.
Cryptic Rock – There is certainly a creepy feel to the movie that burns slowly as it moves along. What was it like portraying Anna?
Courtney Henggeler – It was awesome. Marcus Dunstan, our director, is a super rad, great guy. He’s really a great director in the way he’s open to collaboration and ideas. He will even say he didn’t really see my role having any humor in it or have the sensibility that she has, but then he really let us kind of explore and play – he was just open to whatever we were doing. That is what was handed to me and working with all the other actors with their abilities, timing, and sensibility kind of made up who you see on the screen.
Cryptic Rock – You do a great job with the character too. You play the role of the stepmother to disgruntled teen Cody portrayed by Reign Edwards. What was it like working opposite her?
Courtney Henggeler – She was the best! The first time we met was at the table read, and her character has so much bitterness toward me, I remember thinking – this girl is so beautiful, but she can be so mean! Then I got to know her and she is the sweetest girl in the world. It was fun to get to be snarky with each other on screen, but in real life we would just giggle and have a great time.
Cryptic Rock – It sounds like there was a good working environment. The film comes at a good time with Thanksgiving right around the corner. Once you saw the script, what did you take away from the story?
Courtney Henggeler – I think more than anything, and they did a good job of the execution of it, but more than anything, it was it had a lot of messages to it. When I hear Marcus talk about it I get one message, when I hear the writer, Noah Feinberg I get another message, and I get another message from the actors.
I think it’s a really messed up way to appreciate what you have. (Laughs) I liked it, it was a real, sick twisted way to get to a very simple message to appreciate what you have. Even though I don’t approve of the pilgrim’s tactics I think you get the message!
Cryptic Rock – (Laughs) Right, exactly. Everyone is always looking for a good genre film when it comes to the holidays. There are plenty of Christmas Horror films, why not Thanksgiving?
Courtney Henggeler – I know! I think we’re in a little place of our own with this. I don’t know many Thanksgiving Horror movies at all.
Cryptic Rock – There aren’t many. You have worked in many genres ranging from Comedy to Drama, and Horror. Do you have a particular genre you enjoy working in most?
Courtney Henggeler – It’s funny because I’ve done a few Horror movies now, but I didn’t ever want to pursue a career in Horror movies. In this movie in particular, I think I like the Horror genre so much because as a working actor it gives you a wide range of emotions – you don’t get a wide range of emotions to play on most jobs. The fact that you get to scream, be terrified, be strong, kill people, and then be vulnerable. You get to have all these colors and you rarely have that with most jobs you are hired for. You get to run the gamut with it if you are so lucky. My heart is in Comedy, but I do love the versatile a Horror movie can give you.
Cryptic Rock – Most certainly. Most of the time Horror films are not based in reality too, so you can really play with it a lot more.
Courtney Henggeler – Yes, everything is more heightened. It’s a lot of fun and a really good acting exercise. It requires a lot of energy and stamina, even vocally, screaming so much.
There were scenes where Reign was being dunked in the water at 5 in the morning and here you are screaming watching her getting dunked. It required a lot of energy to pull in that horror and terror while you have been doing it for the last few hours. It’s cool, it’s why we do it.
Cryptic Rock – That certainly is a challenge. People should really enjoy this film, it is quite fun. Let’s talk about your other projects. You have been a big part of Cobra Kai. What was your time been like a part of that series?
Courtney Henggeler – Cobra Kai is maybe one of the best jobs I’ve ever had ever. It couldn’t be a better group of people to work with, everyone’s been so lovely. I’ve been very lucky when I think about it, I just love it.
Three months out of the year we go to Atlanta and we made a TV show that people really respond to and love. We think it’s fun and the creators are just the biggest fanboys of the show so they are making the best possible continuation of The Karate Kid.
It’s a blast, I just wish they would let me do my own stunts. I did my own stunts in Pilgrim though! That was me picking up Kerr Smith’s head and kicking a pilgrim with it. Just in case you were wondering.
Cryptic Rock – (Laughs) That is awesome. It has been confirmed there will be a third season of Cobra Kai, how is that coming?
Courtney Henggeler – We’re filming it right now. We are currently shooting episode 8 right now. We’ll be back!
Cryptic Rock – That is exciting. What projects do you have coming up in 2020?
Courtney Henggeler – I wrote a feature that is being films in New Mexico in December. We will be working on that and after that it’s Christmas and I am going to take a break for a hot second. I will then probably start another writing project.
Cryptic Rock – Very cool. What is your film about?
Courtney Henggeler – It’s called The Surrogate, it’s about a girl who gets hired to be a surrogate for a Hollywood starlet and things go awry. That is all I am going to tell you, it’s a bit of a Thriller.
Cryptic Rock – That is something to look out for you. Last question, what are some of your favorite Horror and Sci-Fi films?
Courtney Henggeler – The original Poltergeist (1982) is hands down my favorite Horror movie of all time. I love the cast and everything about it. Even though I don’t do a lot of Horror movies, I scare very easily. (Laughs) Another one I think is so good, but I will ever watch it again is The Strangers (2008). That is the movie that got me to never watch Horror films ever again. (Laughs)